By Patrick Kagenda
Money transfer service company Dahabshiil is investing in technologies to provide both 24-hour online transfers, SMS notification to customers, and guarantee security in excess international protocols and procedures aimed at combating terrorism, money laundering and other illegal usage. The Independent’s Patrick Kagenda talked to Ibrahim A. Ali Gurey, the Dahabshiil Country Manager.
Recently your founder was internationally recognized by the former UK exchequer. What does this mean to you?
This was extra mileage to us this year. The Presidency of Lord Lamont, a former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the International Association of Money Transfer Networks (IAMTN) awarded AbdirashidDuale the Top Manager of the year award. Such recognition is the first of its kind given to an African company and the award not only recognises the outstanding service that Dahabshiil offers its customers and the company’s excellent record for complying with the most rigorous international standards of conduct, but also recognises the company’s commitment to social responsibility.
What is your corporate social responsibility?
Every year we invest in projects that assist the community. We also give 5% of our earnings to school projects, hospitals, and clean water projects. Besides a 5% donation to charity, after the tsunami in 2005 Abdirashid Duale promptly announced that the company would take an active role in providing immediate relief to the people in the regions of Somalia most affected which we gladly and diligently did.
What has been the impact of the global financial melt down of the operations of Dahabshiil money transfer services?
I cannot say we were not affected by the global financial meltdown. Our business is a service and in spite of the global financial meltdown people were sending money to their relatives. Our surviving the global financial meltdown effects is premised on our strength that is based on the fact that we exist in over 40 countries in the world. Because of our African origins most Africans in the Diaspora continued using our services. However there was a drop in the volume of money remittances we handled.
What makes you different from the other money transfer service providers like Western Union and Money Gram?
We are totally different from Western Union and Money Gram because we are inexpensive and oriented towards business as well. Dahabshiil like the other international money transfer services is a truly global operation providing a broad range of financial services to businesses both large and small and international organisations as well as the private individuals. We also operate under full banking licenses in a number of East African countries and are expanding this aspect of our business month on month. We have 1,000 branches and agents in over 40 countries around the world and international offices in London and Dubai. We have offices in 18 states in the US. We are the leading financial services organisation in the Horn of Africa. We focused on the quality of service. We can transfer as much as a business man wants within seconds while our competitors may take some time. Our services are internet based like theirs but we put a lot of emphasis on the time factor. The other difference we have from them is that we allow our customers to negotiate with us. A person sending US $100 to the US or UK will only pay $2 as service fee and when it is an inland transaction say sending money from Kampala to Arua, $100 will be sent for less than $2. We aim at serving more people while charging less so as to earn more.
How old is Dahabshiil money transfer services?
Dahabshiil started money transfer services in the 1970`s and was the pioneer of all money transfer services you see today except for Money Gram and Western Union. Dahabshiil started during the Somali civil war when the central government and the banking system collapsed. It was being operated without the current money transfer technology and was purely based on mutual trust between the person sending the money and the agent paying the recipient. It started as a Somali money transfer service helping a brother in need where no ribha (interest) is charged which has since spread to the whole world today.
What new innovation have you added to the money transfer services?
We have invented new schemes like the Dahabcard. The Dahabcard rewards loyalty, so every time you send money with Dahabshiil you earn points.
What are your future plans?
Our plans are to expand to the entire Sub-Sahara Africa. Today we are present in Djibouti where we are opening a fully-fledged commercial bank. We are in Rwanda, South Sudan, Kenya and Senegal. Senegal covers our operations in the 17 Francophone countries. However we are waiting for clearance from the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and once we are cleared we shall open shop in that country. Our greater plan is to have a global presence.