Breaking the chain of poverty: How a little cash can go a long way

Published November 25, 2015 by Farhia Abdikadir Ali

Hodan in her shop in Dhobley, South Central SomaliaHodan in her shop in Dhobley, South Central Somalia

Meet Hodan Dahir Ahmed Muhamed. At the age of 26, she recently opened a small kiosk in Dhobley, South Central Somalia, where she sells grocery items such as sugar, milk, laundry detergent, soup, tea leaves, pasta, painkillers, and vegetables. Hodan is now able to feed her family with the average daily profit of about eighty thousand Somali shillings (USD $3.30) she earns from her kiosk. 

But not so long ago, Hodan was barely able to make ends meet as a widowed mother of six. Like many others, Hodan and her family were badly hit by the ongoing conflict in the region, in which she lost her husband. To make matters worse, the last devastating drought cost the family all of their animals, which they relied upon for their sole source of income.

When Hodan received her first monthly unconditional cash transfer from Adeso, she decided that she would put the money to good use.

“Such assistance is a once in a life time opportunity. Given my livelihood situation, I decided to come up with a strategy to break this chain of poverty for my family. I decided to save some money from the first two payments to start this small business and generate some steady revenue for the future,” explains Hodan.

In total, Hodan received six monthly cash payments. Now that they payments have stopped, her business will allow her to still earn an income. When asked why she decided to open this small kiosk rather than another business, Hodan explained, “The money could not assist me in establishing a bigger business like a food wholesale shop, so I had to look for a product that is lacking in my community and can move fast in our market.”

“Now I am able to feed my children with dignity and think of their future. The intervention was an opportunity that empowered me to become self-reliant,” said added.

As she looks to the future, Hodan plans on expanding her small income generation activity with the profits she is making.

In 2003, we pioneered the use of large-scale cash transfers to respond to drought in Somalia. Since then, we have promoted the use of this tool as a means to empower vulnerable communities to set their own priorities when addressing their immediate needs. In 2014, we trained close to 100 people across Africa on cash-based
responses, promoting cash as a tool for humanitarian response