Most Saturdays begin the same way for Jimcale Faarah ‘21: a walk, gym session, scheduling of the coming week, and maybe, squeeze in a soccer game. The most important activity happens to be scheduling for the week as he gets to divide up his time between being an ALU student, running his social enterprise and sustainability advocacy. Yet all these things do not define his identity. He is the son of Somaliland. His love for his country is central to who he is and that is why he is addressing sustainability and waste management challenges in his community.
“I was born in Hargeisa, grew up and studied there. It is basically the only home I have known for a while,” he describes warmly. After secondary school he attended the African Leadership Academy (ALA), ALU’s pre-collegiate sister institution located in South Africa. It was after his time at ALA that he returned to the home he knew and noticed a lot of plastics lying in his community. One less plastic at a time, Jimcale began his social enterprise journey.
Jimcale admits he never thought he would end up anywhere close to sustainability or waste management. “If you had asked me what I liked or any sustainability-related questions 3 years back, I wouldn’t have known how to answer. Then, I had barely even read an article on sustainability in my entire life. But sometimes, all you need to define any opportunity or problem is to ask yourself; what can I do about it,” he recalls. For students joining ALU in 2021, it was a new and refreshing start. But for Jimcale, it was also an opportunity to further develop the social enterprise idea he had come up with during his gap year before ALU.
Today, he is the founder of Plastic Venture, a recycling startup based in Hargeisa – Somaliland that uses a mobile app to collect plastic waste and turn it into building paving bricks. He now boldly describes his interests as the intersection between entrepreneurship, climate change, renewable energy, economy, and empowerment. Through support from the MasterCard Foundation Resolutions Project and the ALU Student Venture Fund, he has refined his social enterprise idea, received funding, and processed over 2 million kilograms of plastic waste which would have ended up dumped somewhere. At the African Leadership University, Jimcale is on a mission of empowering communities to create sustainable solutions to problems they face in their daily lives – a mission which perfectly aligns with his social enterprise and advocacy work.
To know Jimcale is to understand that intentionality can be applied to anything, and everything yet still be so life changing. He uses the word ‘intentional’ as he recounts his journey starting out his social enterprise. “When I started out with my recycling idea, I faced the toughest hurdle of getting my prototype to work. I had a lot of failed iterations and in that moment, the intention I had of making real change in my community kept me going,” he vividly recalls. If he could capture the most blissful moment in his life up to this day, it would be when his prototype finally worked.
Jimcale’s journey is a reminder that we do not see the world the way it is, we see the world from the way we are. In the midst of the unrest his country has experienced through the years, Jimcale has seen opportunities and looks forward to the future of Somaliland. The ALU students’ journey is grounded in preparing future-ready entrepreneurial leaders who are able to explore problems in their communities and take advantage of the great opportunities. Jimcale is a student at ALU because he cares, not only to succeed, but to contribute to the future of Africa.