Feature on Self-employed Somali Couple in Orebro

An ambitious Somali couple is busy to promote their own private business project in the heart of Orebro

Somali business man(Ali abukar) in his Cloth and cosmetic shop in Orebro
Somali business man(Ali abukar) in his cloth and cosmetic shop in Orebro

It’s wet Saturday morning, and I am hunting for a story at the center of Orebro City; in the middle of business area, where Somali man and his wife run their own private entrepreneurship business; the traffic is slow around the center this time; perhaps most of the people are taking rest from their work. A few of people are walking on pavement. The sky is cloudy and dark and full of water; very few of cars are crossing the main street. The entire city looks like sleepy! Not yet wake up! It starts with a shower, oops! It’s going to mess-up again! I am not prepared for a rainy day utterly. It’s unusual in the middle of the spring. It’s pouring and very cold at the beginning of the day; things changed dramatically as the drop falls become more intensive. I am on my way to pursue my story right towards hole town; money, selling, buying we are in heart cool country.

In the Orebro shopping center around Drottninggatan street. Ali and his wife decide to create a job to sustain their life. “we were motivated to create this business when we observe that there is need of such service in this city” Ali said. Colorful dresses and cosmetics were hanging almost every side of the shop. Ali and his wife are busy to fulfill the demand of their customers. The smell of performs takes you back to an old memory back in Mogadishu Mall in Km.4  because those performs are  from Dubai; same trade route to Somalia.

Somali couple is establishing self-employment retail business in the heart of   Orebro. Ali Abukar and Habiba. Have been waging a private business for the last Seven years in Orebro and beyond. Ali is also a chief of Somali voluntary association. He works with different groups of Somali migrants here in Orebro as well as in Sweden in general. He works with groups  like – youth, women . Ali and Habiba sell women and men’s dress and cosmetics, Somali traditional handcrafts as well as jewelry.  Ali is more enthusiastic on the sustainability of his business. Thought he mentioned the existence of  some challenges with concerning the level of taxation in the country especially to small and growing business and variety of systems they work within “we import most of our commodity from Arab world which is different than  the Swedish system  with concerning to the business regulations and  our contract with those countries is not valid here in Sweden said, Ali. This is a problem which we have still. For example; when we make our audit report, we met no returns/leftover from taxation and custom authorities here only we pay” Ali added.

Since 1991 Ali and his family have been in Sweden that makes him one of Somali first generation migrant here in Sweden who had settled in country. The early 1990s was catastrophic and harsh time for Somalia and its people. Somalia fell into a trap of civil war followed by endless chapters of bloodshed, anarchy, and instability in the country. the come as a result of brutal and ruthless dictatorship regime led by Major General Siyad Barre who had used red and white terror to maintain power. Somalis revolt against that tyrant system and succeed to overthrown, but they had failed to re-establish law and order and effective government as a consequence of notorious power struggle between faction leaders to fill the vacuum. This became a nightmare to the most beautiful and strongest nation in Horn of Africa; the entire of country become a theater of war; more vulnerable and fragile weakened by internal violence and foreign political-military interventions. As result of that misfortune, Somalis become refugees.

Ali and his family are determining to be self-employed and combined their labor and efforts to be independent for their life. Their motivation to engage such kind of retail business and experienced some durable progression in the last years. “we wanted to start our business because we were motivated by the need in the market and our assessment, as well as our experience in such work, also allowed us to identify a lot about the market needs” Ali said Sitting in his desk. He also stresses that his business depends on more outside imports from the middle east, Africa., Asia to Sweden. “we import some commodities like cosmetics from United Arab Emirates” Ali added. A considerable number of Somalis have already integrated into the Swedish  system and the  society. Some of them had established their private businesses here in Orebro and in Sweden at large.  Others are professionals such as – Teachers, Medical doctors, Engineers, Politician in the municipal/regional parliament, and the central Parliament  Bus and Taxi drivers, Community leaders and so forth.

Ali and Habiba are not different, they had established their own businesses to sustain their needs , without waiting a job from a private and public sphere. Throughout their innovation, they manage to attract customers.  They  often send messages by emails or conduct phone calls to notify their new product or commodity. They also distribute business advertisement templates to the customers as well. “We have many different customers, as people see our new commodities and something they are interesting they approach us,” Ali said as he was arranging his shelf.

Somali self-employed business groups mostly engage with entrepreneurship retail business and some have already sorted out their own companies.  Somalis work on areas like mini-shops, clothes, and cosmetics, handicrafts and restaurants, as well as money transfer services and the like. However, there are some notable and skilled professionals, who are already in the job market such as – Teachers, Doctors, Nurses, Engineers, Technicians, Journalists, Politicians, Bureaucrat level administrators, Drivers and the like. Though there is a considerable improvement of Somalis in terms of skills and education, less than 30-percent only have employed by governmental or private business companies here in Sweden. Most of them are unemployed. very  few initiated private businesses  in the country.

There is a growing concern on making more sustainable successful entrepreneurship business here in Sweden; where dominated by well-organized and wealthy capitalist corporates as highlighted by some Somali business owners. “The most notable challenges are like: – renting a place of business/facilities which cost us a lot and steady taxation imposed by the Swedish tax agency,” said Abdi Farah. They believe those circumstances are inevitable threat that can  undermine any substantial growth of small businesses. “The most difficult challenge we have is how to grow up and improve our businesses because we spent closely all our profits either for monthly and year taxation or bills including rents, so this situation denies to move forward quickly” added Abdi Farah who owns a small company in Orebro.

Somalis are naturally hard working society, because of that the nation survived in the harshest conditions of anarchy and excessive negative interventions more 20 years. they spent a great deal of efforts to adopt different circumstances; be it inside of their country or outside countries like UK, USA, Canada; Emirates, India, and China; Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. They have prominent diaspora groups; however, they worked with a variety of conflicting systems which are utterly different each other.  a great number of Somali diaspora were quite successful when it comes to the integration of those countries, be it education, jobs, and private businesses and to some extent in the political participation especially in countries like USA and Canada etc.

In recent years; there is a tremendous positive progression towards integration. Somalis are really improving their chances to integrate the Swedish system through different sectors such as basic education, as well as the higher and specializations, business, job markets especially the second generation who had born here in Sweden. had a great determination to integrate with the system. However, there is a considerable number of the first generation who had also committed and integrated quickly to the Swedish system so far. Some of them are Teachers, Business owners, Bus drivers and social workers, politicians and the like.

The road to achieve effective and positive integration by Somali diaspora here in Sweden is promising ahead; but there are a significant challenges to achieving that hope, mainly discrimination and the high unemployment rates which are really terrible to the well-being of Somali society in this country.


 BY: Omar Ahmed


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