The Minneapolis Foundation asked Minnesota Somali leader Hamse Warfa, principal of TAYO Consulting Group, what he sees as the biggest challenge facing Minnesota’s Somali community—and how that challenge can be solved. Here’s what he said:
“Our greatest challenge is the staggering unemployment—the extreme poverty—that exists in Minnesota’s Somali community, which has the highest poverty rate of any ethnic group in our state. Fifty-seven percent of Somalis in Minnesota live below the poverty line, and that’s just unacceptable…. To address this issue, I think we have to improve the management and the infrastructure of community based institutions. I think we must look hard at more integrated ways of doing things, and we have to look at some of the systemic barriers that are a key hindrance to people getting out of poverty.
When we ask people which state is the most segregated, people often think it’s Mississippi, but it’s Minnesota. So I think that needs to be addressed at multiple levels, including at a state level. Families do not move systems; systems need to be moved by our elected officials, and our civic and philanthropic sector has a crucial role in changing systems.”
Want to learn more about Minnesota’s Somali community?
Check out these great resources that will open your eyes and your mind to the struggles and opportunities that exist for the 46,000+ Somali men, women, and children living in Minnesota.
- Hamse Warfa’s book, America Here I Come: A Somali Refugee’s Quest for Hope
- “Pathways to Dignity: A Human Security Approach to Uplift Minnesota’s Somali Youth,” a needs assessment that Hamse Warfa’s consulting group published this spring: www.tayocg.com/resources.