Zahra Abdikarim Ibrahim has managed to establish one of the most successful Information Technology (IT) companies in Somalia, in what is known to be a difficult investment environment.
To succeed, Zahra had to face numerous challenges, from insecurity and negativity towards such an ambitious project, to the trials of juggling career and a family life.
“Somali women are like all women around the world. When I was young, my dream was to make a difference being a mother and having a full-time career,” says Zahra, who is a mother of four.
She emphasizes that one must have a passion to succeed and be ready to take risks. True to her dreams, in 2006 she founded her own company, the Somali Software and Technology Company (SOSTEC), starting off with just one computer in a rented cubicle office.
“I knew from the start that I was venturing into was a male-dominated industry, but that did not stop me from investing in the sector,” she recalls.
Over the years, Zahra had grown her company into one of the largest technology service providers in Somalia. The company currently employs 20 young professionals, and offers an array of IT services such as web hosting and design, live streaming, database and IT training.
Zahra strongly believes that Somali youth can be a powerful force of change.
“We are not only profit-oriented, but also consider the role that youth can play in rebuilding our country,” Zahra stresses, adding that SOSTEC runs several IT programmes that benefit schools and small businesses.
Zahra continues to plan the future of SOSTEC, and would like to expand the offer of specialized IT services.
“In this environment, getting performant equipment is difficult and costly,” she explains. “We would like to introduce more graphic design services, but the purchase of superior equipment is not easy, and we have to think of alternatives.”
Zahra believes that hard work and a strong education background are conditions of success.
“I urge the youth, and especially young women, to take education seriously,” Zahra adds. “I was second in my class, when I was a student at university. I wanted to excel in everything I did. Women can be pilots, computer programmers, doctors – it is all possible.”
Somalia is in the process of rebuilding its institutions, and empowering women to participate in the economic, political and social life is essential to building a stronger society, achieving international standards for development and sustainability, and
improving the quality of life for Somali women, men, families and communities.