Immigrants try harder to assimilate the American mainstream culture
like getting up in the morning, going to work, paying the taxes and
staying out of trouble. Their effort in integrating into the mainstream
American life is what greatly contributes to their success in their new
country. However, some may argue that the Somali community is so involved
in the politics of Africa to the point where they lost paying attention
to the opportunities offered by the new environment. In particular,
they are not taking advantage of the booming local business around them.
Therefore, I am forced to write this note to address this important
issue. First of all, let me say that I feel deep respect for the Somali
community. Also, I am conscious of how resilient the community is having
recovered from the brutal civil war back home and how committed it is to
prosper in the new country of America. But let us admit it. There is a
serious wealth drain within the community. Here is how it happens.
The Somali community in Minneapolis / St. Paul, Mn is one of the largest Somali diaspora in the world with a lot of financial resources. For example, their food and household expenditure can top a low estimate of $50 Million USD a year. If they had control of their spending power, their money would have circulated thirteen times within them like the Chinese community in North America. There are many reasons why this happens. One of them is lack of accountability custom which is inherited from back home. Fortunately, more and more Somali consumers are starting to understand the merits of the ownership culture and are demanding meetings and consultations on the subject.
There is a corporation company in which owners receive a share of the net profit of their business equally. This equity sharing or profit sharing has been in operation in France since 1842, but has not been widely adopted in the United States. The people of the corporation are working as a team, proactively and creatively, not only to outperform the competition, but also to pool resources to form an elite business minded new tribe called Faaiidowadaag.com (profit sharing group). The latter is a joke.
The no accountability custom is a wealth drain that can be redressed painstakingly. The reason why we haven't yet reached that business minded level of thinking is that our business leaders have failed to meet our expectations. Instead of forming a coalition which would guide the community into financial super power, they operate separately and with no common agendas and vision. As it is known, the Halal meat stores took leadership in providing staple cultural foods and goods with a Somali style customer service. Most of you can testify how hard they tried to provide a superior service to the consumers they represent. Nevertheless, lack of good knowledge of management, overpriced goods and excessive consumer lending are the leading cause of business failure and bankruptcy. Ok ! Ok ! Enough of blaming Halal meat stores and business leaders. Let's diagnose this situation and craft a solution to address the above-mentioned wealth drain.
I bet you are waiting to find out what I am going to say !! huh? Gotcha!! My vision is that one day the Somali community will get full control of its purchasing and spending power for the sake of its financial destiny. One way to reach that goal is to create wealth by buying smarter rather than cheaper!!! In other words, we will establish an ownership corporation, where the owners are the players not by standers, who know the rules of the game. There are several relatively simple principles which would lead us to the profit sharing. These principles may be complicated, but they are powerful enough that once incorporated in the strategic plan and used cleverly, they should produce a successful outcome. Here is a good example. If you are a share holder in Wal-Mart would you shop at K-mart, Cub food, Aldi or Target?? Not me!! Now, let me take you to different level on this issue. Do you know that most of you shop at no reward stores " instead of your store "Faaiidowadaag store". Simply, no reward stores takes your money and never donates to Red Cross / Care International Somalia for building a primary school or at least a make shift tent type of Clinic. Have you ever thought of that???
In conclusion, it is no secret that our large number is not concretely winning the financial game in the Twin cities. If we wait for our business community to formulate an agenda and vision for us, we will be disappointed because this may not happen in our life time. Therefore, one way to address this wealth drain is to transform our thinking process towards creating wealth by buying smarter, not cheaper. This transformational way of doing business could succeed in ownership culture, where owners share the net profit of the corporation equally. Furthermore, if we develop the ownership culture, we will achieve social, economic and even political cohesion. Allow me to be funny for a second!! and let me insert this joke before I sign off!!! Profit sharing plan is tantamount to establishing a new East African tribe that insists tenaciously on accountability . Another joke.
The measure of success of this plan will depend on the level of its acceptance by the Somali community in the Twin cities, and the extent to which the middle and low income families are willing to spend their dollars in somebody else's store daily rather than in their own faaiidowadaag store. Wealth drain is a practice so ingrained with no accountability that it is done often without a conscious thought. Try discussing the above idea at home, among friends, and particularly among business minded individuals. You may be surprised the feedback you got.