My name is Abdirizak Salah Mohamed, my story is similar to that of many hundreds of people displaced by civil war. I was born in Somaliland; my family were forced to flee the country during the troubles taking their children with them. Sadly, some didn’t make it.
My family’s journey eventually took us to Norway where we made our home. At 16, I came to England on a football scholarship at Charlton FC, but unfortunately injury cut short my career. When that came to an end, I studied Engineering at University in London, qualifying with a Bachelor of Engineering degree.
In 2018, my father told me my uncle Adan Mohamed Yusuf who owns one of the farms around Dayaxa in Somaliland had reached out to him about the challenges the farmers are facing and in particular, finding a direct route to market for their harvest of Frankincense. My family has a long history in this trade stretching over a thousand years but as demand has become higher, they have found themselves marginalised in the trading process. My father turned to me, as the eldest of his sons, for help.
My return to Sanaag, the region of my birth, was emotional. I was reunited with many family members whom I hadn’t seen in over 30 years. I listened to the challenges they face and I decided to make it my business to help improve their current situation.
I founded the Dayaxa Frankincense Export Co and put together a team of like minded people. Our mission is to make a positive difference on the ground by creating a regenerative model for positive social, ecological and economic change in the region.
Working alongside family members and local people we are focusing on supporting community created and driven development. We will work closely with the farmers to achieve a fair price ensuring day to day living standards improve.
We are also proactively tackling conservation and sustainability concerns surrounding the health of the Boswellia trees that produce this beautiful resin. One of our first tasks is to establish a tree nursery and nurture saplings for the future. Our goal is to see these saplings grow into a thriving forest.
Over time, as we help improve the prospects of the local people, we aim to innovate and look to develop alternative, sustainable revenue streams.
I am passionate about making a difference to the lives of my family and friends in Somaliland. Frankincense can and should be the driver of real social, environmental, and economic transformation in the region!