Empowering Somalia's Business Sector with Digital Solutions: Ayaan’s Journey to Successful Entrepreneur

Published Date :

March 29, 2023

Time to Read :

6 Minutes

Ayaan Abdirahman Ahmed had always been a go-getter, motivated by a desire to make a positive difference in her community. When she graduated from Mogadishu University in 2019 with a BA in Public Health and Nutrition, she had a big dream of starting her own business in order to benefit her community and provide a better future for herself and her family.

Ayaan faced her first challenge during this time. She had a fantastic business idea, but she couldn't afford to buy a logo service for her business. So, she took matters into her own hands and decided to teach herself graphic design on YouTube. Since 2021, Ayaan has been part of SIMAD iLab, where she has been able to develop her business, firstly through the ‘Digital Skills for Jobs' Program, a six month program. She applied and was accepted into the program. After getting the graphic design skills, she has also taken digital entrepreneurship and freelancing courses. Throughout the digital entrepreneurship course, Ayaan practiced developing a digital business concept that offered digital solutions to local businesses. After graduating from the Digital Skills program at SIMAD iLab, Ayan wanted to launch her own digital business but she lacked the confidence of bringing the idea to the market. So, she started to focus on freelancing at that point. While Ayaan kept looking for opportunities to help her develop the skills and confidence she needed to start her business. She saw "The Next Economy Program'' (TNE)  call for applications. She applied for TNE Batch 4 and was accepted. She then went through the entrepreneurship track of this program.

Ayan in her Astaansan Office

"I had no idea about TNE until I saw it on the SIMAD iLab page," Ayaan explained. "However, I discovered that the program assists young entrepreneurs like me to develop business/financial plans and eventually prepares them to launch their business ideas."

TNE proved to be an ideal fit for Ayaan. She gained valuable skills and knowledge including understanding the customers through street interviews, understanding the market and building business model canvases, which enabled her to step outside of her comfort zone and take the next steps toward launching her own business. 

Graduates of the Digital Skills for Jobs in Nairobi

After graduation, Ayaan received job offers from local companies, but she declined due to low incentives. She knew her newly-acquired skills could get her better pay. Ayan was able to launch her own business.  She is now the proud owner of Astaansan, a successful creative digital agency that provides high-quality digital solutions to Somalia's local businesses. Despite existing for only 1 year and 3 months, the company has hired a small team of talented designers and developers and has assisted dozens of local businesses in establishing a strong online presence. Astaansan provides a wide range of services to help businesses reach more customers and grow their brand, including website design and development, social media marketing, and graphic design.

“As the world becomes more technologically oriented, the demand for digital solutions has never been higher. Somalia's business sector is rapidly growing, and companies are embracing technology in order to remain competitive. Recognizing this opportunity, I have made it my mission to assist Somali businesses in growing by providing the necessary digital services”. Ayaan explained. 

Ayaan managed to start her business by utilizing her earnings from freelancing, along with some support from her family. 

Ayaan was also excited to get a further capacity-building program for digital skills. She traveled to Kenya in 2022 to attend a week-long training session, which was facilitated by the International Trade Center (ITC) and the government of Japan. Ayaan is grateful for this opportunity, which came through SIMAD iLab. 

Ayan in Nairobi participating in the closing ceremony of DS4Jobs

SIMAD iLab has always been a place that provides opportunities for young Somali people. Ayaan was among the 15 top talented mentees who were provided the opportunity to go for further capacity-building abroad and meet international fellow freelancers to exchange knowledge and networking. 

Are you a young aspiring entrepreneur with a passion for technology and a strong desire to succeed? If so, SIMAD iLab can assist you in achieving your goals! Our Digital Skills for Jobs (DS4Js) and The Next Economy (TNE) programs contributed to Ayaan's inspiring success story. You want to get helped? Visit our website today to learn more about how we can help you unlock your full potential and build a better future for yourself and your community.

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