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Yemeni refugee running pastry business in Somaliland


Refugee turned pastry chef


Cakes, sweets and cookies are decadently spread out at his shop at the market corner.


For over one year now Eskander has been selling these sweet pastries, the main source of his income. Eskander Hussein Afif is a Yemeni refugee living in Sheikh Madar, a small town east of Hargeisa. He came to Hargeisa, Somaliland in June 2015, one month after the Yemeni civil war broke out. With his family he travelled 16 hours by ship from Aden to Berbera in Somaliland.


Eskander is among 359 Persons of Concern (PoCs) and refugees who were direct beneficiaries of 85 businesses established in 2015 in by AAHI in partnership with UNHCR. The businesses were established at the completion of an AAHI facilitated a three-day business skills training in October 2015. 58 PoCs and refugees acquired skills in business start-up, risk management, savings and record keeping.


Upon completion of the training, Eskander received USD$ 1,500 and started off his a pastry and sweets business in Hargeisa. Eskander was selected to receive the grant based on the project’s suite of selection criteria, such as the viability of his business plan. He also portrayed strong motivation and commitment in his application material.


“I have been able to provide for my family and meet their needs, in addition to accumulating savings to cushion slow business days,” says Eskander. “I get an average daily income of between USD$15 and USD$20, from which I can pay my house rent. My family’s life is good. It puts a smile on my face when I listen to my children learning English through reading visual charts that I bought from the pastry business profit.”


Through monitoring and counseling, 63 of the 85 individual businesses reaching 281 individuals continue to generate income and make profit 12 months after they were started. This points to an impact indicator of 74%, which can be attributed to a six-week follow-up on developing business plans and sustaining businesses, offered by AAHI in Somaliland through the support of UNHCR. 


Eskander has big plans. He wants to invest in an additional extension shade for the gas cylinders at the bakery. He also plans to purchase an additional oven in order to increase production and meet rising demand.


“I am happy that I own a business. Because of AAHI my family has daily food and a place to rest,” he concludes.



Inspiring story ahead of the World Refugee day.