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Somali Women Swim against the Tide

Like most women in this business, Fardowsa Ahmed depends on men to catch the fish. Men dominate the fishing sector. It is considered “men’s work” in Somali society. But Ahmed is determined to push her way in. Ahmed was introduced to the industry by a friend, and she soon discovered that switching from selling milk and tea, which could pay for a day’s food, to selling fish, which could pay for food and help cover school fees. To pay rent for a space in the market and to buy an icebox to store her fish, Ahmed took out a $300 loan from Kaah International Microfinance Service (Kims), the first privately owned microfinance institution in Somalia, when it opened in 2014. She has been able to gradually expand her business. Ahmed is one of 70 members of a women’s cooperative in Kismayo’s fishing sector, supported by Kims. The cooperative employs 10 young women who receive training and mentorship while at the same time earning income with a view to starting their own business in the future. Some of the women are now earning $200 a month, compared with about $50 before joining the sector. It’s not been easy, though.