CEO Abdirashid Recalls Dahabshiil Humble Beginnings and Challenges to Growth

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Abdirashid Duale, the CEO of Dahabshiil Group, reminisced about his humble beginnings in Burao, the capital of the Togdheer region and the second-largest city in Somaliland, where his father’s small shop laid the foundation for what would become a global corporation.

Exclusive Interview with Abdirashid Duale: From Childhood Memories to Global Success

Despite the challenges posed by the civil war in Somalia in 1988, the family’s resilience and entrepreneurial spirit led to the establishment of a successful remittance venture, catering to the needs of Somali refugees worldwide. Today, under Abdirashid Duale’s leadership, Dahabshiil employs over 10,000 individuals across 126 countries, providing essential money transfer services and investing in community development projects. With a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility, Dahabshiil continues to make a positive impact on the lives of people in Africa and beyond, exemplifying a blend of business success and social consciousness.

Dahabshiil Group Chief Executive Officer Abdirashid Duale returned to Burao the city where he was born and spoke to Hereri Media about the story of the Dahabshiil group of companies.

Duale’s small shop was transformed into a global corporation “In early 1970, My Father Mohamed Sa’id Duale opened the first shop in Burao, the capital city of the Togdheer,” he said.

Abdirashid’s career began when he was still a young boy in Burao. “I was Ten years old when I started supporting my father in the business, and I would rush home from school to work my family’s business in Burao,” Abdirashid said.

Civil War & the Business

In 1988, the business collapsed as civil war broke out across Somalia, forcing half a million Somalis to seek refuge all over the world. Mr. Duale used his experience and strong network of business associates to set up a new remittance venture, enabling Somali refugees to send goods back to displaced family members.

Abdirashid Duale recalls the day in 1988: “There was blood everywhere – we couldn’t stay. We left our car, our shop, our house, everything,” Duale said.

The family went to live among nomadic herders. When his father arrived at the Ethiopian border, he discovered Somalis in severe need of money transfer and set out to make it happen.

The family’s story is also the story of the Somali diaspora. Poverty and trade first sent Somalis to Yemen, Dubai, and the Middle East. In 1991, the capital Mogadishu, was overwhelmed by fighting between rival groups, earning Somalia its label as a failed state. Perhaps 1m Somalis scattered throughout East Africa but also to the Middle East, Australia, Europe, and North America.

“After 1991, all the Somalis were displaced in a way,” says Mr. Duale, adding: “I’m one of them, so we know where they live, how to communicate with them, and how to serve them.”

Social Responsibility

Dahabshiil is arguably one of the most important multinational businesses in Africa – providing a vital money transfer lifeline to those living in many countries across Africa and beyond.

Dahabshiil has over 50 years of experience in the business. With Abdirashid Duale as CEO, and founder Mr. Mohamed Duale as Chairman, Dahabshiil remains a family business. Today, Dahabshiil employs 10,000 people across 126 countries, with offices in London, Hargeisa, Mogadishu, and Dubai. It provides services to some of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations, including the United Nations, Oxfam, Save the Children, and Care International.

Taking its corporate social responsibility seriously, it continues to support the Somali community both in Africa and abroad, investing 5 percent of its profits into community regeneration projects involving the development of schools, hospitals, agriculture, and sanitation.

The African Leading company has a regimented policy on corporate social responsibility which spans many fields among which are health, education, and infrastructure.

“In Burao, we implemented different diverse projects to have a positive impact on people’s lives, including Bridges, Hospitals, and other development sectors,” Duale said

Last year, Haji Mohamed Saeed Duale, the chairman of the Dahabshiil Group companies, cut the ribbon to a brand-new modern bridge built with funds donated by the Dahabshiil Group of Companies in the city of Burco, Togdheer region.

The new bridge will ease traffic, which is usually interrupted for a few hours because the roads in the city are either impassable or destroyed by water during the rainy seasons. The demand for another bridge has been long-standing, with residents and commuters highlighting the need to bridge the gap between the bridge and other roads.

“I would like to thank Haji Mohamed Saeed Duale and the Dahabshiil Group of Companies for their monetary contribution to the construction of the bridge, which promises increased connectivity, reduced traffic congestion, and improved travel experiences for the residents of Burao town as a whole,” the Governor of Togdheer said.

Watch below the full Hereri Media Interview with Dahabshiil CEO Abdirashid Duale