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Last updated at 15:52 BST, Monday, 11 June 2012

A laundry for Somalia


11 June 2012

The Somali capital, Mogadishu, is often described as the most dangerous city on earth. But after more than two decades of violence, things are starting to change. The city has now seen the opening of something that has been lacking for years - a laundry.


Mary Harper



Click to hear the report


When Mohamed Mahamoud Sheik returned to his hometown of Mogadishu after years of living abroad he noticed a problem. His father, his uncles, politicians, businessmen and others had to go to extreme ends to clean their suits. They had to take them abroad, to neighbouring Kenya.

Mohamed - who is 24 years old - quickly spotted an opportunity. He decided to open a laundry, which would not only dry clean people's clothes, but pick them up and deliver them too. He bought the equipment from Dubai, the US and Italy, and spent time at a friend's dry cleaning business in the Gulf to pick up skills. He says it was a struggle to find premises because so many people are rushing to start up businesses in Mogadishu that there's hot competition for space.

Finding staff was a challenge, but Mohamed eventually found one man who worked in a Mogadishu dry cleaners more than 20 years ago. The local authorities have provided security – the city is still affected by suicide bombs and other attacks.

Mohamed is not the only Somali to come home after years as a refugee. People young and old are returning to the safer parts of the country. But much of Somalia remains dangerous. It’s by no means clear that the relative peace in Mogadishu will last, but ventures like Mohamed's offer some kind of hope after years of difficulty.


Click to hear the vocabulary


go to extreme ends

try very hard, make a great effort


formal garments of trousers and jacket




saw, detected


commercial establishment for cleaning clothes

dry clean

free from dirt or stains using chemicals


building or part of a building

hot competition

great rivalry


person who has run away from somewhere because of war or threats to themselves


risky business projects