Somalian incubator SIMAD iLab has undergone an upgrade and expanded its offering after making a serious impact on the local startup ecosystem in the five years since its launch.
Founded in 1999, SIMAD University is a private university based in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. It offers a range of undergraduate courses, but five years ago revised its mandate to make it an “entrepreneurial university” with “social impact” as its primary metric.
As part of this, it established a tech hub called SIMAD iLab, which has had significant impact in the years since. The innovation hub has so far incubated almost 50 startups, who have raised more than US$500,000 between them, not a small amount in such a nascent ecosystem. It also manages a micro-finance fund of US$3 million, through the support of DirectAid.
Off the back of this success, the hub has now expanded, opening an innovation theatre, a creative digital studio, an executive space, and a dedicated space for startups and MSMEs.
“Introducing SIMAD iLab was a new exercise that was very aligned with our mission of building an entrepreneurial university in Somalia. But what was more exciting was the impact and the numbers achieved in just five years. We really did not expect that quick win,” said Dr Dahir Hassan, the rector of SIMAD University.
“It just revealed how much the higher education sector was calling for transformations. This new expansion is a direct response to the increasing demand from the Somali youth to expand the reach, capability, and facilities of SIMAD iLab. We are now very hopeful the tech hub will continue to serve the Somali youth better and contribute to reducing the rampant unemployment crisis in the country.”