SOMALIA: Abdullahi Aden Ali, "From IDP to city trader"

Published: March 10, 2010

BOSASSO, 10 March 2010 (IRIN) – Abdullahi Aden Ali, 32, arrived in Bosasso, commercial capital of the autonomous region of Puntland, 10 years ago from southern Somalia. His aim, like that of thousands of young Somalis, was to go to Yemen and on to Saudi Arabia. He first fled his home town of Baidao for the capital, Mogadishu, but was again forced out when fighting between warlords intensified.
Now Ali runs a wholesale clothing business in Bosasso. He spoke to IRIN on 28 February about his reversal of fortunes:
“We left Baidao in 1992 because of the famine and the fighting between different factions. My father thought we would be better off in Mogadishu but this was not the case; the fighting there was between warlords and there were gangs of freelance militias killing and robbing people.
“In 1998, highway robbers killed my father and I took over helping my mother.
“I heard from a friend that a lot of young people were going to Bosasso, taking boats to Yemen and from there going on to Saudi Arabia where they found jobs. I decided to try my luck.
“I reached Bosasso in August 1999 with 20,000 shillings [US80 cents] and nothing else but the clothes on my back. I met some young men from the south who told me I would have to pay at least $50 to smugglers if I wanted to go to Yemen. I did not have the money so I had to work and save.
“A friend suggested that I could sell clothes for a city trader and make some money; the trader would set his price and I would sell the items for any price I could fetch, anything above his reserved price was mine. I gladly opted to go into the business and we often carried the clothes on our shoulders as we hawked them across the town. I would make a small cut for every item I sold.
“It was not easy at the beginning but I got used to it. I started hawking the clothes in nearby villages where I could charge higher prices and the competition was less.
“I was making fairly good money and I had $50 for the boat but then I decided I could make a better living here. I made enough money to buy my own clothes to sell instead of relying on the initial trader.
“By 2006, I made enough money to open a shop with some friends. I am now running this wholesale store. Six of us own it. We have one member in Dubai – we send him orders and he buys the goods and sends them to Bosasso. We are now supplying a number of retail businesses in Bosasso and other places.
“I am married with four daughters. By the grace of God, I am now able to take care of them and provide a comfortable life. We don’t depend on anyone else. My first daughter is six years old and is about to start school.
“I may eventually go back to Baidoa if the situation improves but I will never cut my ties to Bosasso. It is where I became a man. Bosasso is now home and I am happy to be here.”

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