Micin Ali certainly doesn’t shy away from a challenge. His unwavering spirit to flourish in any setting has resulted in him uprooting on numerous occasions in a journey that has crisscrossed Africa and seen him settle 6,000 miles from home.
From the very beginning, Micin seemed destined to become an international migrant. Born in the Somalian port city of Kismayo, he was immediately surrounded by families with relatives living abroad. Many of these migrants ventured south to form part of the two-million strong Somali diaspora community in neighboring Kenya, a regional economic power inside the East African Community trading bloc.
However, Micin’s journey did not take him south of the border. Micin’s parents were both civil servants, and the nature of their work, particularly his father’s role as a Regional Director of the National Post Office, meant that a young Micin could never truly settle in one place. In his own words, “I must have travelled the entire length and width of Somalia during my childhood”.
Constantly adapting to new environments didn’t stop Micin from progressing with his education, and it was during this period that, at school and through private classes, Micin developed a basic grasp of English, a skill that would later prove very useful.
In 1988, Micin’s story took a huge twist as the flames of civil conflict convinced his parents to seek political asylum in the UK. Instead of immediately joining them, Micin headed to Egypt to study Agricultural Engineering, a career that would likely have seen him enter the family farming business. This proved to be a particularly turbulent time in Micin’s life as many of his classmates also received scholarships to study abroad, scattering his closest friends across the globe.
Micin became further demoralized when civil war erupted in his home country, leaving him with a huge sense of loss and statelessness. In need of consolation, Micin opted to leave Egypt and join his family in London where he encountered a different kind of challenge – British weather and cuisine! At that time, the UK’s beating heart was not the multi-cultural metropolis that it is today, and many diaspora communities were widely dispersed throughout the country. Being close to his immediate family, however, really helped Micin to settle in those early years and he soon became very fond of his adopted country.
“Britain is a very open and welcoming country. Provided you can speak the language, British culture is very inclusive. Within two years, I felt completely at home.”
London proved to be Micin’s springboard to success as, in the next phase of his life, he excelled in a variety of public and private sector roles, including a lengthy period as a Compliance Officer in the money transfer industry. Crucially, Micin also sought to enhance his education during this period, obtaining a degree from the University of Westminster and a diploma from the International Compliance Association, passing the two-year anti-money laundering course with merit.
However, as 2018 drew to a close, Micin’s life took another unexpected turn. After 28 years of living abroad, he was offered the chance to return to Somalia by a leading development bank, assisting the financial institution with its anti-money laundering policies and risk assessments. For Micin, the decision to go back was both logical and emotional.
“Returning to Somalia was about so much more than simply going home – it was an opportunity to use my skillset and expertise to give something back to my home country”.
This expertise and knowledge of compliance procedures soon led him to the Ministry of Finance, where, over the course of the next three years, Micin was instrumental in devising Somalia’s anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing strategies, overseeing entire
projects from their initial steps to policy implementation. Given the fact that Somalia had only begun legislating against money laundering in 2016, this was no small achievement and is something that Micin is rightfully very proud of.
Without a doubt, Micin has come a long way since departing Somalia 33 years ago. In seeking a new life overseas, he has been able to strengthen his language skills, deepen his understanding of other cultures and master anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing practices to become an established figure in the compliance world. Yet, for Micin, being a migrant is all about shared experiences.
“Living overseas broadens your perspectives and provides you with a unique opportunity to work alongside people of different nationalities and cultures in the pursuit of a common goal.”
So, what’s next for Micin? Well, as our new Corridor Business Developer, Micin is currently working diligently to better connect Somali diaspora communities in Europe with their loved ones back home. Underserved by traditional financial institutions, Micin and his team will strive to provide Somalian families with an increasingly convenient remittance service that meets their needs.
Looking further ahead, Micin has his sights firmly set on reaching more families across his home continent. “The future is Africa. With the birth of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), social and economic mobility is set increase exponentially. By the time I retire, I would like to have played a significant role in facilitating money transfers right across Africa, helping more families progress and work toward a brighter future”.
Looking to send money to Somalia? Thanks to our partnership with IBS Bank, your loved ones can now collect remittance transfers in cash at any IBS branch. Download the Ria Money Transfer app to get started.
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