SOYDAVO, Somaliland, is a non-profit NGO working to establish some social order in one of the most fragile societies on the planet with its ‘Livelihoods, Returnees and Reintegration for Somali Returnees and Migrants from Yemen’ project. 

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Launched in November 2016, the 2019 judges said it has been recognised for operating in an extremely challenging environment to successfully establish a three-year integration plan that has benefitted 130 new businesses with practical and rigorous training support and start-up funding. It also stood out for its strong focus on self-sufficiency by providing financial and training support for entrepreneurs and reducing hostility to the returnees from war-torn neighbour Yemen.

SOYDAVO is a non-profit making and non-governmental organisation (NGO) established and registered in 2006 in Burao, the largest city in the Togdheer region of Somaliland.

SOYDAVO’s stated vision is to “achieve a society where children, women and youth are able to live their lives in peace and have their rights safeguarded in order to attain better social, political, economic, education and health standards.”

Its core thematic areas are protection and gender equality, Food Security and Livelihoods, Education and Vocational Skills training, and promoting peace through culture and arts.

The winning project is focused on providing sustainable livelihoods to returnees and refugees from Yemen, creating alternative sources of livelihoods for drought-affected and marginalized communities, providing employable and vocational skills training to school dropouts and deprived youth in DPs and protecting girls and women from FGM and VAWG.

The successful project undertook several initiatives:

  • SOYDAVO established community committees for the purpose of reintegrating the returnees into the host communities.
  • With the support of the local governments, IOM, and Somaliland’s mandated agency for refugees and IDPs, SOYDAVO selected the most vulnerable beneficiaries from Burao, Berbera and Hargeisa districts, with special consideration given to the elderly, disabled and women and youth. 130 beneficiaries were selected to undergo rigorous small business management training aimed at enhancing the business skills of the beneficiaries who were required to submit business ideas.
  • Each sucessful idea was awarded $US1300.
  • SOYDAVO also contributed safe travel advice and some transportation costs to the beneficiaries who decided to continue their journey to the more volatile Mogadishu or South Somalia.

More than 95% or 125 out of the 130 funded beneficiaries  are running sustainable small businesses in Burao, Hargeisa and Berbera. Most of them opened small businesses related to their area of expertise such as tailoring, small fast food services and bakeries.

Ninety per cent of the beneficiaries have scaled up their businesses through loans obtained from micro-finance institutions with support and references from SOYDAVO.

The beneficiaries who have established and sustained their income sources have also been able to send their children back to school.

Guided by humanitarian principles, the SOYDAVO project has touched the lives of many returnees and migrants in ways they could never imagine.

“Children are going to school, businesses are expanding, and beneficiaries’ faces can be seen as a sign of hope – a hope for a better future for their children and families” says the Chairman of SOYDAVO, Mr. Mohamed Hussein Aideed.

“This is just a short glance at how the project has changed the lives of the Somali returnees and Migrants from Yemen – empowering beneficiaries and creating for them a hope. Many of the beneficiaries who have been supported and uplifted see the opportunity they have utilized at the right time as ‘deposits made to humanity.'”

Mr. Aideed also said the project has received recognition from local donors and the government of Somaliland as well as from the beneficiaries who have had their lives transformed.