Wales, Oct 30 2003, (The Western Mail): TWO Somaliland ministers have urged Wales' Somali population to start businesses that exploit new trade opportunities with their African motherland.
Speaking at an official dinner organized by the Ethnic Business Support Programme (EBSP) and the Somaliland community, the ministers assured the 150 guests and potential investors that Somaliland is open for business after years of political turmoil.
With Cardiff and London as their only two UK destinations on a world tour that has included China and the United States, Dr Edna Adan Ismail, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mohamed Hashi Elmi, Minister for Commerce and Industry, spent time with community and business leaders.
Abdikarim Adan, director of the Somali Advice and Information Centre in Cardiff Bay and Honorary UK Representative of the Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, said the Centre would work with the EBSP to ensure the community made use of the help available from business-support organisations.
The Somali community in South Wales was established in Cardiff Bay more than 100 years ago. Bolstered in recent years by refugees fleeing from conflict, the population has grown to 8,000 people, with groups spread throughout Cardiff and Newport.
Dr Ismail, Somaliland's first woman minister and first-ever Minister for Foreign Affairs, said, "There has been a strong cultural link for generations between Wales and Somaliland, and we hope our visit will engender a new commercial relationship between our nations. Modern Somaliland offers a large and untapped market and is a safe place to trade."
"With a stable political and commercial climate in Somaliland, some Welsh Somalis are keen to return to East Africa. However, for the core population that remains in Wales, EBSP hopes that potential entrepreneurs will use their knowledge of the Somali language and culture to start successful new import and export businesses."
Said Akmal Hanuk, EBSP's programme director, "The Somali population in Wales is battling with adult unemployment levels of close to 90%, and the support of Ministers Ismail and Elmi to encourage those with entrepreneurial ambitions to get into business and use our range of free services is very welcome indeed."Somaliland Times