Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Tech Hub in Mogadishu Aspires to Link Investors and Innovators

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Joblessness among young Somali adults is a chronic issue confronting Somalia. Their unemployment rate is at staggering 67%. And the issue of youth joblessness is exacerbated by the large number of Somali students who graduate—from secondary schools and from tertiary organizations—with skills that are neither appropriate for Somalia nor competitive elsewhere.
Nonetheless, this aside, after almost three decades of turmoil—and of protracted conflict, terrorism, and piracy—Somalia is making huge entrepreneurial, socioeconomic, and political strides. This progress is encapsulated in a famous hashtag, popularized in 2017 and known as “#SomaliaRising.” In keeping with the spirit and momentum of this, we turned “Rising” into “iRise”—to demonstrate both how Somalis can improve  narrative, and bring our innovative and entrepreneurship ingenuity into play.

Our brand name is a catalyst for this hashtag and aims to popularize the movement.

The iRise Hub is the first co-working space for technologists, innovators, and members of the business fraternity, giving them a place to collaborate and build local solutions to local problems. Based in Mogadishu, iRise offers incubation services and the best mentoring for local start-ups.

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Our goal is not to just offer space and services but also create a large community of stakeholders committed to diversifying a war-torn economy. Social networks are often a powerful tool used by tech hubs to build these stakeholder communities. By using social media and blog posts, we engage our community members in various topics, and convey information on the technology and affordable solutions that are available to them.

iRise provides an environment where innovators and investors can collaborate in all walks of job-creating. It is widely known that the amount of capital injected into Somalia through remittances is higher than that brought in by development aid. We try to tap into this available capital by placing young digital innovators in the same room as those who are willing to invest. And iRise employees also hold one-on-one meetings with the community members to advise and help them with all their technical and business needs.

iRise facilitates equitable access to information for a tech-savvy youth population. We invite the top talent in all industries to give talks and fireside chats in our space, and make it open to all members of the community and public who show an interest in it. This will help young people receive market information that can make their brand or product competitive in Somalia and beyond.

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iRise also collaborates with Devcon organizers to bring internationally recognise lecturers to Mogadishu. In the digital age, access to information is the most important currency for innovative growth and job creation.

We offer training and mentorship to youth on entrepreneurship and innovation, using technology to connect them to potential investors. iRise will collaborate with institutions of higher learning, corporations, and government institutions to increase the chances of young Somalis with tech talent being mentored and employed.

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