From 8 to 10 March 2015 the Somali Investment Forum took place in Nairobi, organized by the World Bank Group, US Embassy and Shuraako. The main purpose of the forum was to bring together Somali (diaspora) investors and businesses, aiming to return capital for growth.
The Somali AgriFood team, consisting of IFAD, HIRDA, Collert Consultancy and BiD Network staff attended the forum and was actively involved. Pedro de Vasconcelos (IFAD) and Laura Smeets (BiD Network) were invited for the plenary sessions to discuss challenges and opportunities for and needs of diaspora to finance Somali businesses. HIRDA, Collert and BiD Network offered pitch training sessions to invited entrepreneurs prior to and during the forum. A marketplace was set up at which Somali entrepreneurs as well as financial and business service providers could showcase their products and services and connect with each other. Here, the Somali AgriFood team offered entrepreneurs and investors the possibility to get information about the Somali AgriFood program and fund and to sign up directly.
During the forum, several plenary and breakout sessions took place and closed investor pitching events were organized for a preselected group of entrepreneurs. The actual outcomes of the forum in terms of deals made will surely become clearer in the coming weeks, but there is no doubt about the extent at which networking took place.
We are grateful to Shuraako, the World Bank Group and the US Embassy for organizing this much needed forum, bringing together different players in the field of private sector development, aiming to strengthen access to new types of finance for Somali businesses.