Dahabshiil Provides Vital Remittances, Says BBC

By Africa Business, PRNE
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

LONDON, February 3, 2011 - By handling remittances from the international Somali diaspora,
Dahabshiil provides a vital source of income for African communities and in
doing so, has become Africa's largest money transfer company, according to a
recent article by the BBC.

In the interview by Zeinab Badawi of the BBC, Dahabshiil's CEO,
Abdirashid Duale, speaks about his company's operations in Somaliland and of
the difficulties in doing business abroad that arise from the unofficial
status of the region, once British-controlled, in North West Somalia.

However it is precisely this lack of formal international recognition,
isolating Somaliland from official foreign aid, which makes remittance income
so essential to its people, and Dahabshiil's service such an important

The company was founded in 1970 by Abdirashid's father, Mohamed Saed
, and grew over the next eighteen years to become the largest remittance
broker in the Horn of Africa, selling imported goods on behalf of migrant
workers and transferring the proceeds to their families.

In 1988 civil war broke out, forcing half a million Somalis to flee the
country. In response to this exodus and to conditions in Somalia, Dahabshiil
called upon its extensive business network to establish a new venture,
enabling Somali refugees to send remittances back to displaced relatives.

As the diaspora grew, so did Dahabshiil. Today it is Africa's largest
money transfer operator with more than 24,000 agent locations and branches
across the world. Tie-up agreements with strategic partners ensured its
services reached the maximum possible number of Somali expats.

When asked by the BBC on the burning political issue of Somaliland's
independence, Mr Duale was circumspect, but admitted that its unofficial
status does present Dahabshiil with a challenge.

The World Bank estimates that the Somali diaspora worldwide sends around
$1bn (GBP632m) each year to relatives in Somalia, a regular capital flow that
has helped to bolster its economy.

The chain of payout locations is now so extensive that people living in
some of the country's most remote regions have regular, easy access to funds
sent to them from overseas.

Dahabshiil has remained committed to its low commission policy, charging
fees significantly lower than other international providers and playing a
significant role in helping to rebuild a vigorous private sector by
facilitating investment in sectors such as telecoms, transport and housing,
as well as in basic infrastructure, health and education.

Abdirashid Duale, CEO of Dahabshiil, added: "The fast and efficient
transfer of remittances is an essential service for many people in the
developing world, whose friends or family live abroad and regularly send
money home.

"Dahabshiil is dedicated to assisting these communities and prides itself
on its ability to provide a lifeline for people who need it most in hard to
reach areas. This is why we have reliable systems and staff in some of the
remotest areas."

While remittances account for its core business, Dahabshiil also provides
money transfer and banking services to local businesses as well as to
humanitarian and international development organisations. In fact, over 95%
of international organisations operating in Somalia, including the UN, World
Health Organisation, World Bank, Oxfam, Save the Children and Care
International rely on Dahabshiil to make payments.

The United Nations has previously described Dahabshiil services as "the
only safe and efficient option to transfer funds to projects."

Viv Jemmett- media at africabusiness.org

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