MOGADISHU – Hussein Mohamed Qoje, the man behind a new publication causing a major buzz in Mogadishu, says he was driven by the need to bring the business community together.
Qoje, the proprietor of Somali Yellow Pages, says it was the realization that people in Somalia were craving for a one-stop publication that contained contacts of businesses and companies in Mogadishu that he decided to put together the 136-page glossy book.
According to Qoje the numerous calls received from people trying to get contacts of businesses in Mogadishu inspired him to find a solution to the information gap that existed in the capital city. It is the reason why he negotiated for a franchise, with the parent company based in the United States, to run the Yellow Pages in Somalia.
“The Somali Yellow Pages idea came to me when I realized there was an information gap as people who were looking for hotels and other businesses could not contact each other. Those in hotels could not reach those in travel agencies to be served. Therefore, there was an existing need. And the need came from the Somalis,” Qoje adds.
He observes that prior to coming up with the publication, business in Mogadishu, and by extension Somalia, was disorganized and contacting traders was difficult.
The proprietor of the Somali Yellow Pages, however, says he has now created a valuable opportunity for businesses as there was a disconnect in the sector.
“Some people are on the outskirts of Mogadishu yet they have no contacts and nobody knows their location. If you want to know how many banks there are, who needs what and who’s who in some locations, it was difficult”, Qoje says, noting that his publication had become the hub of the Somali people as it connects each sector.
The publication has contacts for at least 23 sectors ranging from banking, communication, hotels, hospitals, travel agencies, construction and even foodstuff among others.
The Public Relations Manager of Dharuuro Travel Agency, Mohamed Abdullahi Ali, says he decided to advertise in the publication after he realized the benefits that would come with it.
“I came to know about the Somali Yellow Pages through their agents who came to collect data about our company. They interviewed me about my company and I knew what they wanted to do and how it would benefit me,” adds Ali.
And a director in one of the leading shopping malls in Mogadishu, Mohamed Hassan Ibrahim of Al-Kowthar, talked of the benefits of advertising in the publication.
“The Somali Yellow Pages has helped us get new services and break ground on new frontiers, get new clients and reach to customers who did not know what we stock. This has helped us to increase our sales. It has facilitated us to be known by new clients. Now we get calls and deliver goods to new destinations that we did not have,” Ibrahim observes.
Encouraged by the success of his publication, Qoje says he has his eyes set on having a publication that covers companies and businesses in the whole of Somalia.
“My long-term plan is to recruit more people as I have already hired 50 people to expand to the regions with new offices,” the Somali Yellow Pages proprietor says.
He also plans to further break down the 23 sectors in the current publication so that he can be more specific to the needs of his clients.
Yellow Pages refers to a telephone directory of businesses organized by category rather than alphabetically by business name, and in which advertising is sold. The name and concept of Yellow Pages came about in 1883, but the first official Yellow Pages directory was created by Reuben Donnelley in 1886.
Qoje charges a minimal fee for advertising in the publication but says he will come up with appropriate figures to guide those who are interested in buying space in the subsequent editions.
This article was produced by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and republished from their website.