For the complete interview
with Abdirashid Duale:
If money makes the world go round, Dahabshiil CEO Abdirashid Duale makes sure it goes to the right people.
by Paul Trustfull
While the world is going to hell in a handbag, money still makes the world go round. And even as the financial crisis bites a hole in our hands, the amount of daily transfers evidently show that there are plenty of people who dig deep enough to spend or share some. For most of us this transaction requires little effort, just an internet connection and a bankcard will do the trick. But what about the people in more remote areas, in which online banking has not yet become a household term? These people often rely on money transfer services, if that service is available. Dahabshiil, the Horn of Africa’s largest money transfer services company, was born from the ashes of Somalia’s civil war, when Somalian migrants needed to send money back home to help those left in its aftermath. Although the company has been a successful enterprise since its beginnings in the early 70s, CEO Abdirashid Duale has not lost sight of why the company was originated in the first place. Duale knows, as no other, that with big money comes big responsibility.
Today the Somalia region boasts some of the most advanced and cost competitive telecommunications and internet services in the world and certainly they exceed those of anywhere else in Africa. The majority of Somalian people in rural areas do not have access to the internet. If, however they should need to, they are able to do so by simply contacting a relation in town. Even the smallest towns now have internet access. Dahabshiil is investing in state-of-the-art technologies to provide both 24 hour online transfers and SMS notifi cation to its customers and uses technology to guarantee security and exceed standards of compliance with inter national protocols and procedures aimed at combating terrorism, money laundering and other illegal usage.
Dahabshiil is currently in the hands of CEO Abdirashid Duale, a dedicated young father of four, successful entrepreneur, and a man looking to help out those less fortunate. Although Duale has an British passport, his history lies in Somalia and he also continually looks to expand his services throughout Africa. Already, Dahabshiil has an extensive worldwide network that stretches from North America, Western Europe and the Middle East, to West and East Africa, including Ethiopia, Uganda and Sudan. For Duale however, the aim is to reach even more remote areas as immigration continues to rise and the need for a reliable transfer service increases. Reliable service is one of the key aspects of Dahabshiil’s success. From the beginning, Duale has worked towards establishing a comprehensive compliance and anti-money laundering program which is used throughout the company’s network to ensure full observance with all relevant rules and regulations. As such, Dahabshill’s compliance program is adhered to by every agent. “Today Dahabshiil is a truly global operation providing a broad range of fi nancial services to businesses both large and small and international organisations as well well private individuals. We also operate under full banking licenses in a number of East African countries and are expanding this aspect of our business month on month. We have 1000 branches and agents in over 40 countries around the world and international offices in London and Dubai. We are the leading financial services organisation in the Horn of Africa. As we are continually developing and expanding, it remains important to keep focused on the quality of service. As I am always looking to increase my business, I am open to joint ventures, but foremost, I want to concentrate on the service side in this particular area of the banking and finance industry.”
Prior to becoming the CEO, Duale learned the tools of the trade alongside his father, but he now comfortably directs the company himself. Since he took over, the company has not only expanded, but Duale has also invented new schemes like the Dahabcard. The Dahabcard rewards loyalty so every time you send money with Dahabshiil you earn points. Although Duale remains a savvy hardworking businessman, it means having to spend time away from his family, something he still fi nds difficult to do. The love for family is precisely one of those qualities which can direct a man to greater things and although business means money, for Duale that’s not where his business ends. Sending money back home for many immigrants is of high importance, not just for the families who receive it, but also for entire communities. “When someone sends money to help their loved ones, it becomes a huge responsibility for us. We help the community, contributing to charity both in this country and back home. Every year we invest in projects that assist the community. We also give 5% of our earnings to schools, hospitals, education and clean water.” Besides a 5% donation to charity, after the tsunami in 2005 Duale promptly announced that the company would take an active role in providing immediate relief to the people in the regions of Somalia most affected. But Somalia is just one example of a war-torn country in Africa, and the service Duale provides for his customers is not just crucial to the economy and livelihoods for poor communities, it can be a simple but harsh reality of life and death. “I believe that we, those who have grown up fortunate, need to help those who haven’t. My mission is to continue to expand our reach and services so that money goes safely where it is supposed to go.” Such dedication does not go unrecognized for long, and it was this year that under the Presidency of Lord Lamont, a former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, the International Association of Money Transfer Networks (IAMTN) awarded Duale Top Manager of the year. Such a recognition is the fi rst of its kind given to an African company and the award not only recognizes the outstanding service that Dahabshiil offers its customers and the company’s excellent record for complying with the most rigorous international standards of conduct, but also its commitment to social responsibility.
At a time when there’s still much upheaval from the Horn of Africa, it’s good to know that one company, and one man, will try his best to provide a vital, and often life-saving link. For now Duale will keep himself busy extending his services, but somewhere along the line he still hopes to come home and spend a little more time with his family, not much different from any of his customers.