AADCO Paper Factory: Entrepreneurial Innovation in the Somali Business Sector

Somali company manufactures egg cartons from waste paper
Left: An AADCO employee collects paper scraps for recycling. Right: The finished egg carton from recycled paper.

Somali businesses are working hard - and making great strides - toward securing a place on the international market where they can be competitive and bring something new to the private sector. This is certainly the case for entrepreneurial businesses like the AADCO Paper Factory, which is currently serving as the only paper manufacturing company in Somalia and Somaliland.

Employing somewhere over 50 staff members, one third of which are female, the company not only manufactures a range of student notebooks, spiral-bound notebooks, and A4, A3 and A2 copier paper, but in an innovative push into environment-friendly entrepreneurship, the company also recently started the first recycling initiative of its kind in Somaliland. 

AADCO are now producing egg trays locally that are developed from waste paper, helping to reduce the need for poultry companies such as Maandeeq Poultry to buy and import from China or Dubai, which is more expensive and does not contribute to job creation in the value chain. Now AADCO are exploring other recycling initiatives in line with their business activities in order to reduce their environmental waste further and continue proving that businesses can generate revenue from waste while contributing  to a better environmental ecosystem.

This new product development strategy is part of the work the company is doing with the support of One Earth Future’s Shuraako program and the Nordic Horn of Africa Opportunities Fund.

“Thanks to advice and assistance from the team at Shuraako we know have a new product line created from our waste,” said Adan Ahmed Diria, the owner and chairman. Diria has been managing businesses for almost 45 years. The AADCO factory was honored in 2013 by the former president of the Somaliland Republic, his Excellency Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silaanyo, when AADCO began producing paper products and officially opened for business.

From Left: Hassan Noor Abokor - General Manager, Mohamoud Abdillahi Ahmed - Operations Manager and Chief Technician, Adan Ahmed Diria - Owner and Chairman

“Now we are offering alternatives to import, using waste paper from our company and other businesses.” AADCO is producing and selling egg trays to poultry companies who were formerly forced to import them from Dubai.

Diria is equally proud of the fact that in the process of growing the company AADCO is creating more jobs, especially for young people.

Not unusually, success comes with some challenges for this entrepreneur. Business owners in Somalia like Adan face high cost energy bills, limited access to financial resources and raw materials, and the lack of international trade benefits based on the fact that they are operating in a region that lacks official country status.

After decades of war and conflict, the Republic of Somaliland is a self-declared state, internationally considered to be an autonomous region of Somalia, although not yet recognized by the international community as a separate country. It has its own government independent from Somalia, and has been granted special arrangements by the international community, but as a post conflict country is still hindered by weak infrastructure.

Despite what some may view as barriers, however, One Earth Future and its Shuraako program are proving that even in conflict-affected areas, determined entrepreneurs and businesses like AADCO have the potential to thrive and, in turn, are helping to build a more robust regional economy. To date, Shuraako has assisted AADCO in obtaining the necessary funds to bolster manufacturing capacity by expanding facilities, introducing new products, and reducing the company’s dependence on imported color print covers and other supplies.

As Shuraako continues to connect entrepreneurs with impact capital, Mr Diria says, “Our vision is to be the leading paper products manufacturer in the Horn of Africa in the coming five years.”

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