Abdirizaq Abdullahi started his tourism business in 2013 to promote the beauty of his home country as a travel destination. Abdirizaq previously worked for financial institutions as a legal expert in the Netherlands during which time he took a back-packing trip around Somalia. While traveling he discovered the beauty of his country Somalia and uncovered its potential as an off the beaten track destination for adventure travelers. Abdirizaq’s business Somaliland Travel now employees three people in its head office in Hargeisa, Somalia. It offers customized travel packages that suit the needs of his clients, giving clients a unique and authentic experience during their tour. In order to expand his business Abdirizaq enrolled onto SPARK’s Migrant Entrepreneur Programme (MEP). Abdirizaq was quickly assigned a coach who had experience in the tourism business because his business idea was already well developed. The coach gave him guidance in setting up a strategy and how to collect data to conduct market research. Abdirizaq now knows that it is important to follow market trends and is seeking partnerships with other travel agencies. For instance he takes part in Tourism Exhibitions and has now built up his online presence. Abdirizaq’s business is unique because it offers more creativity and flexibility than other travel agencies. He also closely monitors his customers’ experiences in order to improve the service. What Abdirizaq most enjoys about having his own business is the responsibility that it brings. He realizes that every decision he makes has an influence on the business and the people involved which keeps him motivated and focused. Of course there are challenges too such as working together with third parties often over long distances and especially working in a developing country can be difficult because there is a different business mindset from the Netherlands. Abdirizaq is confident for his business as he has noticed Somalia is getting more media attention and more tourists are finding their way to the country. However, security is still an issue because of the conflict in the Horn of Africa. Abdirizaq hopes the region will maintain stability because he sees a huge potential for tourism there.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL AMBITION?
Informing people about Somaliland and creating awareness for this unrecognized country is priceless. See people making a living out of a crazy idea that I had when I was traveling in the country.
WHAT IMPACT DO YOU SEE YOUR BUSINESS MAKING?
The community benefits from tourist coming to the country. Hotels, restaurants and even the lady on the street who is selling crafts benefit from tourism. It also helps to diversify from the main industries that the country is depending on. We work together with the government to protect the environment and certain sites such as Laas Geel, the ancient cave paintings.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS?
To put Somaliland on the map as a new tourism destination and to be the leading travel agency in East Africa.