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Building an Entrepreneurial University in Somalia

Somalian incubator SIMAD iLab has undergone an upgrade and expanded its offering after making a serious impact on the local startup ecosystem in the five years since its launch. Founded in 1999, SIMAD University is a private university based in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. It offers a range of undergraduate courses, but five years ago revised its mandate to make it an “entrepreneurial university” with “social impact” as its primary metric. As part of this, it established a tech hub called SIMAD iLab, which has had significant impact in the years since. The innovation hub has so far incubated almost 50 startups, who have raised more than US$500,000 between them, not a small amount in such a nascent ecosystem. It also manages a micro-finance fund of US$3 million, through the support of DirectAid. Off the back of this success, the hub has now expanded, opening an innovation theatre, a creative digital studio, an executive space, and a dedicated space for startups and MSMEs.