Berbera, Somaliland, 27 January 2021—Liibaan Mohamed Abdi was employed as a barber in one of the shops in Berbera, Somaliland. The pay was not much and he could hardly get by and afford school fees for his children.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and things went south for Abdi. With a lockdown in place it meant fewer and fewer customers would turn up to be shaved, shaving off Abdi’s already meagre wages. As the situation deteriorated, he lost his job.

However, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining and for the 30 year old father of seven, it was a stroke of luck that he was chosen as  one of the beneficiaries to receive monthly cash transfers of USD 60 through the UN-Habitat-run Berbera Urban Development Project. The project aims to support recipients in Berbera who are suffering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU funded cash programme began in August last year and runs to the end of this month.

With this amount, Abdi has managed to set up his own barber shop thanks to the cash transfers. He used the first two trenches of the cash to buy all the necessary equipment to set up and start the barber shop.

“I was afraid I’d misuse the money I received from UN-Habitat had I not committed it and therefore would send the money to my friend, who also owns a barber shop in Hargeisa town.  Within the first two months, I was able to acquire two shaving machines, towels, brushed and sanitizers- enough equipment to start a barber shop,” said Abdi.

Abdi says that he was well skilled in this trade and had always wanted to run his own shop but could barely have enough savings to raise capital to start his own until he was identified as a  beneficiary of the  cash transfer programme in August. By this time, the lockdown had been lifted and businesses had resumed.

Abdi managed to secure is own business space and has stocked his barber shop with all the necessary equipment. He even went further and sublet some of his space to one other barber who will share in the recurrent expenses such as rent and electricity and pay him some goodwill.

“Business has been good in the past three months. My income right now is nothing close to what I used to earn when employed. I can now comfortably pay school fees for my seven children and provide them with food,” he said.

With this comes the respect from the community and for Abdi the future can only be better.