Ismail Ahmed

Ismail Ahmed

Ismail Ahmed escaped the civil war in Somalia hidden in a dump truck.241 Once settled in the UK and having studied economics, he got a job for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), running a money-transfer project in East Africa. Discovering irregularities, he reported his findings to his superiors. “My boss said if I went and submitted the dossier, I would never be able to work in remittances again, and I took that threat very seriously,” he says. “I lost my job to uncover the fraud.”242 Ahmed was later awarded
$200,000 (£150,000) for blowing the whistle on the corruption and in 2010 he used the payout to set up WorldRemit, an international payments processor.

WorldRemit helps its 4 million users send funds safely, cheaply and quickly to more than 150 countries, notably migrants’ remittances to countries in Africa, which otherwise often incur hefty fees of as much as 7.5%.243 Punitive fees and long delays made his own experience of sending money home difficult, challenges that inspired him to start WorldRemit. As a boy, Ahmed had received remittances from his brother in Saudi Arabia. Later, from the UK, Ahmed would send money back to his family who were by
then living in an Ethiopian refugee camp. “My family had lost everything,” he says. “So now I became the one who sent money back.” In Somaliland, the part of Somalia from which Ahmed comes, remittances account for as much as 40% of the economy.

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