Dahabshill CEO Abdirashid Duale Talks to Masters Students at Helsinki's 100-Year-old School of Economics

By Africa Business, PRNE
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

LONDON, April 6, 2011 - Abdirashid Duale, CEO of Dahabshiil Group, was invited last week to
address graduating masters students at Aalto University School of Economics
in Helsinki - an internationally renowned institution for management
education currently celebrating its centenary year.

The two-hour talk took place on Tuesday 29 March as part of a course
titled, Managing Innovation and Change, led by Professor Liisa Valikangas.

Professor Valikangas, an experienced researcher and recognised expert in
innovation and strategy, selected Dahabshiil as a model example of a business
which has been quick to embrace new ideas, and which has overcome tremendous
odds to realise the potential of the African market and build what is now a
global brand.

During the talk, Mr Duale discussed the importance of remittances to
Somali communities worldwide, and outlined the role that Dahabshiil plays in
getting funds to where they are most needed. He went on to discuss the
history of the company, its plans for the future, and his role as CEO.

Dahabshiil's core business is in the transfer of remittances to the Horn
of Africa
- a vital source of income for many in the region as Mr Duale
explained at the start of his talk. The World Bank estimates that around $1.6
is remitted to Somalia each year by the country's global Diaspora.
Dahabshiil handles around two thirds of this capital flow, making it the
largest money transfer operator in Africa.

Remittance income is an essential lifeline for communities in the Horn of
most remote areas, and helps to bolster the funding of humanitarian
organisations operating in the region. It also helps to support local
development initiatives - a theme central to Dahabshiil's ethos from the
company's earliest beginnings.

Just as importantly, the flow of remittances also facilitates domestic
and international trade, and has proved essential in enabling sustained
investment in commercial projects and promoting vigorous private sector

Dahabshiil's early years, as Mr Duale told the diverse mix of students in
the Toolo campus of the School of Economics, were far from easy. The company
was founded in 1970 by his father, Mohamed Said Duale, and quickly
specialised in the remittance of funds from migrant workers in the Middle
, bypassing strict foreign exchange controls through a system known as
Franco Valuta (FV) which involved the import of goods, proceeds from the sale
of which were paid to the migrants' families.

By 1988 the civil war in Somalia was reaching its peak, and the Duale
family were among the hundreds of thousands forced to flee to neighbouring
Ethiopia. It was there that they rebuilt Dahabshiil from scratch. This not
only meant a new location, but a complete change of customer base and stiff
competition for business in a war-torn region with little or no political or
legal framework.

Twenty years on, Dahabshiil has a truly global presence and serves
communities across the whole of East Africa. The Group has regional offices
in London and Dubai, and thousands of agent and branch locations in 150
countries worldwide. Remittances still account for the bulk of Dahabshiil's
business, but the company has diversified to offer a full range of financial
services to its international customer base.

Always quick to pinpoint new areas of growth, the company acquired a
majority stake in SomTel, a Somali mobile network operator, in 2008. The
telecoms industry in the Horn of Africa is highly competitive, a consequence
of which has been the rapid growth of reliable and uniquely low-cost mobile
networks. SomTel's expertise in mobile telecoms, mobile internet and high
speed broadband have enabled Dahabshiil to launch a full mobile banking
service in the region, and to continue to upgrade and expand its online
payment systems. These systems are already known by customers as among the
fastest in the business; remittance transfers in and out of Africa take
minutes to clear regardless of where in the world the funds are sent or

The SomTel acquisition is a logical next step for Dahabshiil, which
introduced Somalia's first ever debit card, 'Dahabshiil eCash', in 2009. The
service has already helped to reduce the drag on the economy arising from the
need for large quantities of paper money for transactions in Somali
shillings; the expansion of mobile banking will extend this benefit further.
It is even anticipated by some observers that Somaliland will become the
world's first cashless society.

Mr Duale believes that financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa will
continue to promise much in the way of new opportunities - as he declared
towards the end of his talk, 'Africa is the future!' The region's role in the
international financial system will grow, he said, as will the inward flow of
remittances. As for Mr Duale, his role as CEO is to ensure that the Group
continues to adapt to the changing environment through strategic investment
and identification of growth markets, while maintaining its core business,
easing poverty in rural areas and providing strong support to Somali
communities, in Africa and around the world, through ongoing corporate social
responsibility projects.

Notes for Editors

Dahabshiil is an international funds transfer company, and the largest
African money transfer operator. The firm has its headquarters in London and
operates from over 400 branches worldwide.

Dahabshiil provides a broad range of financial services and invests in
state-of-the-art technologies to offer SMS notification and 24 hour online
transfers to its customer base. The company also employs specific technology
to ensure maximum security, and to satisfy international protocols and
procedures aimed at combating money laundering, terrorism, and other illegal

Professor Liisa Valikangas teaches innovation management at Aalto
University in Finland. As President of Innovation Democracy Inc, a non-profit
company she co-founded in 2006, she has a long-standing interest in
innovation and entrepreneurship as a way to build better lives in fragile
countries (see www.innodemo.com).

Contact: info at africabusiness.com

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