Creating a startup at a refugee camp

I came across a great example of startup inspiration on the website of The Guardian today. Western IT-entrepreneurs working in Kenia recently found out that even in dire circumstances people feel the need to work for themselves and make something of their lives. They met Mohammed Bashir Sheik in a refugee camp in Kenya, near the border with Somalia. Mohammed fled his homecountry of Somalia at the age of 4. He grew up in the Dadaab refugee camp and lost his mother when he was only 14 years old. So far it sounds like the typical sad story of African people on the run from violence.

Luckily he had the chance to go to school. But even more important, he had access to computers. ‘I was immediately addicted’, says Mohammed. He learned English by just talking to people from all over the world via Skype. He started programming and designing websites and got better and better with the help of his new online friends.

And then his life took a turn for the better.

A Danish NGO invited youth groups in the camp to submit business proposals, with a $12,000 prize for the best one. “Ours was the winning proposal, and we decided to invest the money in the project to help young people acquire computer skills.” He now runs a web-development business from the refugee camp in Kenya where he still lives. He earns enough for a decent income and he hires other refugees to help him with his business.

Sounds like a movie to me!

This story is a lesson in perseverence and grabbing your chances, no matter what the circumstances are and how grim the future may look. Even when all the odds are against you, like in the case of Mohammed, you still can accomplish great things if you have the willpower to adept to the given situation, learn from any struggle you may find yourself faced with and have a bit of luck as well.

check out the original story here

posted by Rick van der Valk

photo Dadaab refugee camp, copyright: Courtesy of UNHCR

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