Accelerating Peace Through Entrepreneurship

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About the Iftiin Foundation

Accelerating peace through entrepreneurship.

Iftiin Foundation is a social enterprise that incubates entrepreneurs and social ventures in conflict-affected countries to accelerate peace. Mohamed Abdulkadir Ali founded Iftiin Foundation in 2012 to encourage a culture of change, peace and innovation among entrepreneurs and young leaders in post-conflict countries starting with his native Somalia. He is a Somali-American peace strategist, human rights activist and social entrepreneur.

Iftiin, which means “light” in Somali, seeks to support local entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs working in some of the most challenging environments in the world to rise to their true potential and spark changes that will pave the way for peace. Iftiin Foundation is committed to collaborating with peers, contributing thought leadership, sharing experiences, and developing and fostering innovative projects that allow a community of changemakers to flourish.


Our Theory of Change

Focus on the Entrepreneurs

Iftiin Foundation believes that entrepreneurs play an important role in accelerating peace in post-conflict and conflict-affected countries. Across the world, conflict, piracy, terrorism and instability can have complex and varied causes, but in regions saddled with the dangerous combination of a large youth population and chronic unemployment, the risks are magnified. Ultimately, one of the key solutions to achieving stability and long-lasting peace is in the private sector and in entrepreneurship.

In fragile communities, where often the private sector provides as much as 90 percent of employment, entrepreneurs are the key drivers of development. Fighting terrorism and eliminating piracy in countries like Somalia should take a multi-pronged approach of which fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, peace innovation and empowering youth is the key to long-term peace and stability.

Our Approach

Iftiin Foundation uses an ecosystem approach in order to create a supportive environment for social entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses that have a peace impact.


Iftiin's Initiatives


of Somalia's population is over the age of 18.
of all employment is provided by the private sector.
of 14-29 year olds are unemployed.
projected Annual GDP growth by 2017.





Benadir University Peace Center

Benadir University Peace Center

Peace Accelerator

Peace Accelerator

Generation Change

Generation Change

IFTIIN FOUNDATION’S MISSION IS to Empower young people in Somalia and other conflict affected communities to become peacemakers and drivers of economic growth through entrepreneurship.


Mohamed Abdulkadir Ali

Mohamed Abdulkadir Ali

Executive Director

Mohamed Abdulkadir Ali is a Somali-American peace activist and strategist who works on developing innovative ideas and solutions to foster peace, violence prevention and social entrepreneurship in fragile states. Mr. Ali is the Director of The Center for Peace and Social Innovation at Benadir University in Mogadishu, Somalia and the founder of Iftiin Foundation. He has developed initiatives that utilize innovative solutions to conflict such as the power of youth entrepreneurship as a tool for peace in Somalia. He is currently working on generating cutting-edge ideas in peacebuilding & development to address the economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges to stability in Somalia.

Mr. Ali founded Iftiin Foundation, an organization that incubates social entrepreneurs, young leaders and their ground breaking projects, to accelerate peace in post-conflict countries starting with his native Somalia. By harnessing the inherent creativity and dynamism of entrepreneurs and connecting them with the resources, support and skill sets to take control of their lives, Iftiin Foundation is creating an entrepreneurship revolution that will create jobs, drive sustainable development and promote peace.

Mr. Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, where he spent his childhood before his family was displaced as a result of civil war. He eventually moved to the United States where he became committed to assisting refugees, like himself, whose lives were torn apart by war and conflict. He attended law school so he could advocate for the legal and human rights of these refugee populations.


After years abroad, Mohamed eventually returned to Somalia, where he found that many of the young people were disenfranchised and without opportunities. He launched the Iftiin Foundation, to incubate and support young Somalis to start their own enterprises. He now leads The Center for Peace and Social Innovation at Benadir University in Mogadishu, where he is training a new generation of social innovators and peace makers to promote peace & stability in their country.

Mr. Ali has achieved international recognition for his work. In 2010, then Secretary Hillary Clinton recognized Mr. Ali as an exceptional young Muslim leader and in 2012 Mr. Ali spoke alongside Secretary Clinton on affecting change in the Muslim world and combating terrorism. In 2012 The BMW Foundation recognized Mr. Ali as a rising young leader; in 2013 Mr. Ali was recognized as a leader in the development sector by the Aspen Institute and selected to join the inaugural New Voices Fellowship, a partnership between the Aspen Institute and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His work has been featured in The New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, Project Syndicate and on the TED stage, where his talk has garnered almost 1 million views.

Mr. Ali obtained a Juris Doctorate from Boston College Law School. Mr. Ali also holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Business Administration from The Ohio State University.


Our Latest News & Updates

Watch: The entrepreneur’s surprising haven: Somalia (CNN – Amanpour.)

Watch: The entrepreneur’s surprising haven: Somalia (CNN – Amanpour.)

Jun 05 2015

On Monday, I joined Christiane Amanpour on CNN during her evening news show to discuss the growing migrant crisis. I outlined a number of…

Benadir University and Iftiin Foundation

Benadir University and Iftiin Foundation

May 18 2015

We are excited to announce that Iftiin Foundation will be partnering with Benadir University (BU) to launch the Center for Peace and…

A Somalian Solution to the Perilous Exodus (Intl. NY Times)

A Somalian Solution to the Perilous Exodus (Intl. NY Times)

May 11 2015

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on May 12, 2015, in The International New York Times and online May 11,…

How to undermine Al-Shabaab

How to undermine Al-Shabaab

Oct 08 2013

Originally featured on CNN’s Global Public Square blog with Fareed Zakaria | Oct. 18, 2013 By Mohamed Ali, Special to CNN Editor’s note: Mohamed…


Iftiin Supporters

Department of State
BMW Foundation
Tony Elumelo
Global Entrepreneurship Week
Aspen Institute



Partner with us to train, incubate and build a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is our global partnerships that have expanded the horizons of our youth. Be a part of our movement!

Our entrepreneurs have innovative ideas, create groundbreaking start-ups, and address issues of poverty. Make their ideas a reality and help grow and scale their enterprises.

By connecting youth to positive role models, we hope to create a proactive opportunity for youth to be engaged and involved in their personal and professional development. We provide a platform builds bridges linking youth with ongoing access to professional mentors who help fast-track the their potential.

Become a Mentor

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Contact Us

Benadir University located at KM13 along Afgoie Road. Mogadishu, Somalia


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Interested in our work? Send a message to the Iftiin Foundation.