While Somaliland is a self-declared state of four-million people, it is not internationally recognized as an independent state. As a consequence, its currency, the Somaliland shilling currently has no official exchange rate.

This makes purchasing anything online, using the dollar or any other foreign currency basically impossible.

Mohamed Dahir, the founder of Epocket, experienced difficulty in buying goods or services online since there is no international bank, MasterCard or Visa. This made it particularly hard paying for online advertising on Facebook to market his businesses.

Part of the problem is Somaliland’s low banking penetration. Mobile money, however, is widely used and relies on US dollars. So Dahir came up with a solution, called ePocket that connects mobile money wallets to international prepaid cards.

Once you have ePocket account you can activate an international prepaid card and load your funds to that account to enable international purchasing and selling.

Customers can reload their international prepaid cards at the comfort of their home, office or wherever they are whenever they need to, so that they can shop (products, entertainment, education, etc), send, receive, pay and get paid online.

ePocket, while still in the product development phase was one of 12 ideas selected to participate in the 2016 Innovate Accelerator programme and competition. While it did not win, Dahir received major exposure and networked with potential investors.

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