Six Things We Learned About Cooperatives and Associations in Somalia

Up to the present, little has been known about the structure and performance of Somalia’s membership organizations. In 2022, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) undertook a comprehensive field-based mapping exercise to assess the capacity, roles, and needs of 38 membership organizations in Somalia to help guide future economic planning. These organizations included cooperatives, business associations, and chambers of commerce with a presence in agriculture, livestock, fisheries, or other industries. CIPE conducted the study on behalf of DAI for a project to support the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, funded by the European Union.i  

The field assessment confirmed the presence of active private sector organizations (PSOs) across Mogadishu and the three regions surveyed: Southwest, Juba-Land, and Hirshabelle.​ Through interviews and the use of an adapted CIPE assessment tool, here is what we learned about them.  

  1. Most organizations have basic governance structures in place. For instance, 37 of 38 PSOs have a board of directors, 34 have a written constitution or bylaws, and 35 have a general assembly. Registration is common but not fully institutionalized.
  2. Members receive valued services from PSOs. The top services received include networking events, advocacy efforts, and business development training. The organizations’ member orientation is an area of relative strength, as seen in regular consultations with members on needs and priorities.
  3. The weakest functions according to the organizational assessment are strategic planning and management & human resources. They lack clear strategic plans and written job descriptions, for example.
  4. PSO staff and volunteers generally lack knowledge of governance practice and formal management systems. They acknowledge this gap and desire to learn more in these areas.
  5. PSO leaders desire more government support. Organization leaders and key informants agree on the need to develop legal and policy frameworks and an enabling environment.
  6. Somalia has an emerging mixed model of PSO governance. Cooperatives and other organizations are registered and audited by the government, but internally they are governed democratically. Founded by members, their members join on a voluntary and open basis.  

A top conclusion is that Somalia’s PSOs are surviving when they could be thriving because they don’t operate within an enabling policy framework. They have the potential to serve members on a larger scale if they were to apply more formal methods of organizational governance and management.  

For more detailed analysis and recommendations, see the mapping report, Formalisation of Cooperatives and Private Sector Organisations.

Published Date: July 31, 2023