Published On: Thu, Jan 3rd, 2013

Dahabshiil: The maker of liquid gold

Dahabshiil, which is Somali for ‘the gold melter’, is a ‘rags to riches’ story of an African entrepreneur who lost everything during the Somali civil war.

With nothing but a strong network of contacts, he set about rebuilding the company which two decades later is now the largest African-owned money transfer business in the world. Dahabshiil was founded by Mohamed Said Duale more than forty years ago. He opened his first shop in Burao, the regional capital of Togdheer province in North-West Somalia, now known as Somaliland. He started off by selling imported goods from Gulf states on behalf of Somali migrant workers and transferring the proceeds back to their families.

The business collapsed as civil war broke out across Somalia, forcing more than a million Somalis to flee and seek refuge all over the world. With limited resources, Duale used his experience to set up a new remittance venture, enabling Somali refugees to send money and goods to displaced family members.

Over the next two and half decades, Mr. Duale, with the support of his staff and his son, Abdirashid Duale, who worked in the shop while also attending school, expanded the business to become the leading money transfer company in the Horn of Africa and beyond. Dahabshiil now operates in many African countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya , and Ethiopia. It serves migrant communities all over the world and is fully compliant with international regulations.

Dahabshiil made banking history when in 2009 it launched the first ever debit card in the Somali territories. It also opened the Dahabshil Bank in Djibouti which is operational in some parts of the Somali territories as well

Abdirashid Duale, the current CEO of Dahabshiil, has worked for the company since his school days, helping his father develop what was a small family business into a global firm operating in more than 150 countries. He has committed his company to increasing financial inclusion in developing countries, and has been an integral part of the economic development in the Horn region.

The company is involved in community regeneration projects. It invests five percent of its profits each year into such activities, including the development of schools, hospitals, agriculture, sanitation and infrastructure. This amounts to millions of dollars annually.

The company’s humanitarian efforts during recurrent food crisis have included partnership with leading aid agencies in the delivery of a ‘cash for food’ programme, involving money transfers to beneficiaries for the purchase of food in local markets.

With headquarters in the Somali territories, the United Kingdom, and Dubai, Dahabshiil provides services to some of the world’s leading humanitarian organisations, including the United Nations and international NGOs.

Dahabshiil is also currently spearheading initiatives consisting of partnerships with development organisations in an effort to establish sustainable financial products to meet the needs of poor communities.

Abdirashid Duale has established a reputation as an expert in the remittance industry, and has vast experience in all areas of money transfer operations. He has gained a reputation as a regular keynote speaker at international and regional conferences, including those organised by The School of Oriental and African Studies, International Fund for Agricultural Development, The London School of Economics, Oxford University, the African Development Bank and the British Houses of Parliament. He speaks about remittances, telecommunications and development issues.

Abdirashid Duale has won several awards. This year he was independently selected out of nearly 700 candidates as one of the top 50 most influential people in Africa by the respected publication, The Africa Report. In addition to this he was recently awarded Top Manager of the Year by the International Association of Money Transfer Networks in recognition of the outstanding services that the firm offers its clients. He has also received the UK’s Mayor of Tower Hamlets award for excellence in the community, which recognises what it describes as the “outstanding contribution” Dahabshiil has made to the local, national, and international Somali community over the last forty years.

The story of Dahabshiil, which started off as one small shop, is an inspiration to many people, especially Africans. It has overcome many challenges in a difficult part of the world, and proves that hard work, commitment, professionalism, and resilience can yield large dividends.

By the Bridge

Displaying 43 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Hiodo says:

    God bless him.

  2. hassan habr awal says:

    we all proud of this hard work, i mean (including keyse aka puntlandgzr….)

  3. Ayanle says:

    Creepy smiling midget lol !! he fed himself on the corpse of Al barakat ! More seriously i personally think he has too much power in a poor country like somalia. Nothing good ever came from such a position of power !

  4. Ahmed says:

    The end for this Dhabshill is when he entered politics. Many Somalilanders are calling for the boycott of this Qabil centered comapany. WE had enough of him, how about he pays his share of tax instead of giving $200 to a school– what a joke. His Nephew is the president(not Silanyo) so he is free to do whatever he wants. I personally will never send money through this company, this is my way of showing respect to the people that died after the recent elections.

  5. ComeAgain says:

    Haters are gonna hate because his money is long! He has done alot of good for Somalis giving them a platform to send money home to those who needed it.

    B y tch a rse nugg as can cry on here all they want, if it wasnt for him most of their ayeyos would not be eating.

    Keep hating while we Grind!

  6. mohamed cheers says:

    As far as the private sector Dahabshiil INC. international successful business tycoon company is concerned, as the article contemplates, Abdirashid Dualeh the current CEO of Dahabshiil should
    be proud of the company's accredited accomplishments. This leading Somali international
    business tycoon which's internationally recognized should also be a tribute reputation to all
    the Somalis. Although Dahabshiil is from Somaliland , nevertheless, the company's business
    services globalwide knows no confined limitations as outsourcing international businesses etc.
    Due to the successes of Dahabshiil, It would be advantageous if the Company could
    expand to more banking and other oil exploration, and all big projects, in joint ventures with
    other big foreign investors engaged in Somaliland and other Somali territories, also the Horn-East
    Africa? Why not? This could create stronger national company(s) to take part(s) in all sorts
    of foreign investments across the Somali territories and the surrounding AU Countries.
    What happened to the Berbera cement factory?
    Cheers.

    • Ayanle says:

      The guy is already more powerful than the government itself do we reallly want him to consolidate his position ?
      I mean it is well known that Dahabshill is among the Kingmaker in virtually every somali territories.
      As Senator John Sherman put it in his Sherman Antitrust Act, "If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life."

      • mohamed cheers says:

        Ayanle bro am glad that when things go real tough, your farting funfare changes into seriously
        go with the winning toughness tide bandwagon. Yes Sir am Ayanle and I endorse this
        syndicate tycoon Dahabshiil the producer and trainer of the dazzling Hersi Gaab lyks…you know
        what I mean?
        Cheers.

  7. Buuxiye says:

    Long live Somaliland and it's blessed people.

    Other Africans conduct more transactions through DahabShiil then Somalis so even if he gaveup the Somali market he has made his money long ago and diversified into other industries. Haters trying Harm an Elephant with a feather! :) i doubt you will even tickle the giant.

  8. kaboon says:

    daroods hate rich issaqs so it is not surprising the comments from daroods people

  9. kaboon says:

    Thank Allah this man is feeding your poor ayeeyos in garowe and bosaaso, otherwise they would be on Muslimhands.com webpage

  10. hassan habr awal says:

    where is keyse cadavre

  11. Big Joe says:

    The whole world appreciate his work. A self made millionaire before Mr. Siilaanyo came to power. A man with reputation and reliable service.

    Because of his engagement in social activities in the whole Somali speaking area he is a role model for wealthy somali speaking people who just keep their money in foreign banks.

    The company operates in more than 155 countries around the world. Short sighted people from Berbera stop him to invest the cement factory.
    Somalilanders don´t know the golden chance they missed. They accepted the Berbera- Hargeysa airport deal given to a Chines and Ethiopian company. – Sick people with no real vision.

  12. misslovely says:

    none isaaq somalis always copy the isaaq brain dahabshiil was the founder of somali hawaala after that every somali has his own hawala isaaq was the first somali who found somali private airlines like daalo now other somalis every other tribe have their own diyaarad

    • Buuxiye says:

      Without Somalilanders there would be no such thing as Somali countries.

      Somalilanders created the notionaof a Somali-state. It was Somalilanders who gained independence first by ending their British protectorate, it was Somalilanders who inspired the speedup of the Somali-Italia independence, it was Somalilanders that died to liberate French-Somaliland, it was Somalilanders that madeup the Majority of those who died in the Ogadeen war, it was Somalilander Ibrahim Egal(ar) who fought endlessly to liberate NFD, it was a somalilander Omar carte Galib who made it possible the Somali-republic had a chance to join the Arab League and was instrumental in securing it's seat in the UN. Somali Music does not exist without Somalilanders, Somali culture is dead without Somalilanders, the real Somali language is spoken by the clan who live in Somaliland.

      Considering the direction taken by Djibouti to distance itself from the Somali image and as a result having failed to make any significant contribution to Somalinimo, considering the circumstance surrounding Ogadeen and NFD and their respective population having accepted their indefinite occupation by non-somalis and considering the perpetual and growing occupation of Somalia-Italia and their lack of Genuine preservation of somalinimo and ever increasing reproduction of non-Somali bloodlines in their country… Sadly there is a single conclusion and that is Somalinimo = Somalilandnimo!

    • kaboon says:

      @misslovely

      If there were no issaqs then somali people would be nothing, every good somali is issaq

  13. Adan says:

    Dahabshiil is a Somali hawaala, how about that idea? when i send money to my hungry parents my main concern is a delay and whoever will deliver that money on time is my first choice. I am sick and tired of people talking about tribe all the time, In the USA, especially Minneapolis city, people use Dahabshiil, becouse they trust its services not becouse of who owns the Hawaala.

    • ComeAgain says:

      Walal its not is aaq thats complaining, look at who started the fights in the first place. Calling the man names etc. Like you said people should judge by the service and dahabshiil is the best. But people want to hate so what are we going to do? Let them do it? Bunk that!

  14. ComeAgain says:

    I aslo Challenge Fa q@ @shawipress that instead of giving our enemies a voice on our media platforms that it once and for all prove its allegiance to Somaliland and its people by holding a online contest to its readers on how to make Somalilander better! Challenge our young and old from home and the diaspora to contribute meaningful ideas and then reward with acknowledgement on your site, perhaps even an interview! I DARE YOU! CAAARRRRR!

  15. Academic says:

    Where ever he comes from he is successful Somali business man, which i am very proud of,.I deal with their business i trust Dahabshiil and for the last 20 Yrs customer never have any problem like any other Somalis, keep it up Dahabshiil.we Somalis if we don't encourage our succesful people we could never be a good people.

  16. Lynne says:

    very inspirational!

    I love to read about rags to riches stories

    I think we can all learn a lot about ourselves from others who have endured and succeeded.

  17. Madar says:

    Berbera cement factory is contentious issue with many big players interested, Dahabshiil will get a percentage share of no more than 20% with the remaining going to the likes of MSG group, Omaar trading, Muse Dalab group, Baxsane, Ibrahim Cabdi Kahiin (Ibrahim Dheere), Somaliland Government, Kuwaiti Royal Family and others.

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