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Somali women behind successful Minneapolis Mall
03 September 2015

Minneapolis (Star Tribune) - Minneapolis, the biggest city in the American state of Minnesota, has for the past few years witnessed the entrepreneurial spirit of a growing group of Somali women, the driving force behind the growth of the Karmel Square Mall. Despite its modest beginnings as a collection of storefronts in an old machine shop, the mall has gradually expanded and now includes 175 clothes stores, hair salons, henna shops, and restaurants, making it one of the largest collection of Somali businesses in the US. Unique to the Karmel Square Mall is that fact that all but 25 of its stores are owned by women. According to the owner of the mall, Basim Sabri, Somali women are “the smartest business people in Africa, probably in the Middle East” and “play a big role in Somali business doing”. Somali women cherish their financial independence, and have proven highly capable of managing their own business alongside the many chores they are obligated to fulfill at home. According to Bulbulo Mohamud, owner of a café in the Karmel Square Mall , there is no contradiction between the entrepreneurial spirit of her fellow women shop-owners, and their remaining supportive of traditional gender-roles where  it is the husband’s responsibility to act as the family’s bread winner and pay the bills. The important thing is to have the husband’s support in starting a business, something Bulbulo Mohamud says is not an issue in many cases: “Our man does not control, we are free to do anything. If we decide to achieve something and make it clear, we can.”

Full story and photo credits available at Star Tribune