Saturday, June 23, 2012
When Ahmed Jama Mohamed returned to Mogadishu, Somalia in 2008 to open a business, he was acting against all odds.
The fight between al-Shabaab, a group affiliated with al-Qaida, and government forces was at its height. Most of the coastal city was a battleground,. Close to 1 million people were displaced to the city's outskirts. Food prices were soaring, and a devalued Somali shilling coupled with a looming humanitarian crisis created a dire situation that should have scared off any investor.
Except that Mohamed, a trained chef who lived and worked in the United Kingdom for more than two decades, was determined to make it happen. After traveling to Kenya, Tanzania, and the United Arab Emirates looking for business ventures, Mohamed settled on starting his business in the Somali capital, because, he said, he believes business "opens a door to peace."
Four demanding years later, and almost a year after al-Shabaab was forced out of Mogadishu by African Union Mission in Somalia forces, Mohamed, also known as Ahmed "Village," is managing a chain of restaurants known as The Village that he has set up all over the city.