From a garden to a “small business empire” in Somaliland

Today, Istaahil is very much a businesswoman, using around 80 percent of the fruits and vegetables grown in the garden to supply food for the restaurant.

Quite the businesswoman, Istaahil diversified and upped her income by starting a kiosk and a restaurant, using about around 80 percent of the produces she grows in her garden. ©FAO/Isak Amin

Istaahil Mohamed stands near the fireplace in her small restaurant and scoops freshly cooked rice from a pot onto a plate. Hailing from Ceel Xumo village in Burao district, Somaliland, Istaahil has come a long way to be able to serve this spoonful of rice in her own restaurant. She set up, owns and operates both the restaurant and the kiosk next to it, building on a successful venture into farming three years ago supported by FAO and WFP. Today, through this growing “small business empire,” as Istaahil calls it, this 40-year-old mother of four is now able to sustain her family and pay her children’s school fees.  

Venturing into farming

Istaahil and her family used to depend on livestock, keeping as many as 20 goats. But after all her goats died following the severe droughts in 2016-2017, she decided to take up farming.

Despite having little knowledge about agriculture, Istaahil saw it as an opportunity to sustain her family, though by no means an easy one. She still remembers carrying jerry cans of water on her back to irrigate her small farm. For the first two years, she could only produce enough for her family’s subsistence.

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