Economic Development  service | Somali  Bantu organization


Economic development program was created to address the economic needs of Somali and other East African families – most East African families in San Diego are comprised of single mothers, several children, and extended family members: nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. Many families have as many as 5-17 children. A large percentage of the families are on public assistance. East African refugees and immigrants, having left nations with agrarian subsistence economies and high illiteracy, face specific difficulties in urban settings with securing jobs and means of income. The community members try to solve the situation by opening their own businesses, however, they run into another set of problems of licensing and other regulation processes for new business.
The dependence on public assistance disfranchises the community while it cannot provide any solid background to new immigrants and refugees and its members cannot economically rely on themselves. In a long run, the lack of job opportunities and programs integrating East African population into the wider San Diego community results in loss of the productive and economically potential members who opt for moving to different parts of the country

Health Services

We truly believe excellent service is everything, especially in healthcare where people are often facing difficult challenges. Nothing is more gratifying than providing an unmatched level of caring support that exceeds expectations. We call this distinctive style of service Personalized Support.

Our service philosophy stems from our simple, yet powerful, guiding principle: treat others how you would like to be treated. We know happy customers are the result of happy employees, thus we’re committed to taking excellent care of our people so they can take excellent care of others.


Focus group questions for community residents and providers and structured interview

questions for providers were developed by IPH in collaboration with de la Cruz &

Associates, the IRC, and SBCSD. Focus group questionnaires for community residents

were reviewed by the SBCSD board members to ensure cultural appropriateness and

relevance and later revised based on their recommendations. As a part of the review,

board members were asked to respond to the questions as if they were participating in

the focus group. With this feedback, further refinements were made to the questionnaire

to ensure cultural competency. Separate questionnaires were developed for older men,

younger men, older women, younger women, teens, children, and providers. (Please

see Appendix A for questionnaires).

Data Collection

Focus groups were conducted with community residents by Colleen Krause, Mallory

Cochrane, Amberly Middleton, Isha Mberwa, Hamadi Jumale, Abdi Ali, and Omar Abdi.

SBCSD board members and volunteers were trained in focus group facilitation and

note-taking by the IPH prior to conducting the focus groups. After the initial focus groups

were conducted, IPH staff met with facilitators to debrief on the focus group process.

With their input, the process was adapted to best accommodate community participants.

The survey questions were developed in English and later translated into Kizigua and

Maay Maay. Every effort was made to ensure that the survey questions were both

culturally appropriate and asked in a way that would not offensive to the participants.

The survey questions were reviewed by community members and board members.

For the focus groups with adults and teens, participants and facilitators were matched by

gender. Men’s groups were conducted in Maay Maay or Kizigua. The women’s groups

and the elementary students’ group were conducted in English with translation into Maay

Maay or Kizigua. Focus group notes from the men’s group were translated into English

by SBCSD board members and volunteers. Focus groups were completed with three

groups of older men, one group of younger men, four groups of older and younger

women, one group of teen girls, one group of teen boys and one group of children.SBO has been addressing gaps in healthcare in the Somali bantu  and other East African refugee community, frequently collaborating with other community stakeholders and residents. Despite over a decade of settlement in San Diego, until recently there was no data on the demographics and health status of the Somali  bantu community, making it difficult for community groups and health care providers to adequately address health needs and concerns. The lack of qualitative information about this population makes it more difficult to engage East Africans in existing health promotion programs. These programs are designed to outreach  key preventative health messages, such as the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, to a general population and so are typically linguistically inaccessible to most Somali Bantu. Because such programs are “one size fits all,” they cannot be expected to address or serve the needs of a specific immigrant population, whose health issues must be addressed in terms of culture, as well as the physical and mental health ramifications of the refugee experience.

Our Health Services program is based on a comprehensive Health Needs Assessment of 100 Somali  Bantu individuals, conducted by other Somali  Bantu refugees, conducted in 2008 and funded through the California Endowment and Alliance Healthcare Foundation .This assessment allowed the direct involvement of the community in the program, a feature that distinguishes this program from similar needs assessment and health promotion programs. The surveys were completed in fall 2008, and the Institute for Public Health (IPH) at San Diego State University compiled and analyzed the data.

The Somali bantu organization in San Diego’s healthy  Food   and Community Health (HFC) Program creates innovative and sustainable projects that increase healthy, locally-grown, culturally-appropriate foods for and by San Diego’s refugee and low-income communities.  Since 2008, the HFC Program has partnered closely with our clients, local neighborhoods and organizations throughout San Diego County to find durable solutions to food insecurity, health problems, and economic hardship through community-based food and farming projects.

I’m familiar with the projects and I want to be part of the success!

The Healthy Food  and Community Health (HFC) Program creates projects and services for our refugee clients to have a healthy resettlement. Our Program focuses on five inter-related core project areas: 1) Healthy, Culturally-Appropriate Food Security, 2) Nutrition and Wellness, 3) Farming Enterprise, 4) Community Leadership, and 5) Advocacy and Systems Change. All these areas together form the fundamentals of a neighborhood-scale food system, which empowers residents as producers, vendors and consumers of healthy food while simultaneously building local economic development.

Our Program constantly strives for sustainability and scalability in all we do. We are committed to sharing and training others in our program models, technical knowledge and project tools to allow as many people and organizations to engage and sustain this work.

Our current projects include the following:

New Roots Community Farm
The New Roots Community Farm provides growing spaces for 85 families in the heart of the City Heights neighborhood. Many of the participants were farmers in the home country and this is their first opportunity to reconnect with the land in the United States, as well as double their family’s food security and nutrition access. The farm is open to the public.

Got gardening tools to donate? 


Farming Enterprise – REAP

The Refugee Entrepreneurial Agriculture Program (REAP) is a hands-on beginning farmer training program to assist refugees in farming as a business. REAP participants receive classroom, field-based training and 1-on-1 technical assistance in farm business planning, marketing, production and land acquisition. land to graduating REAP participants.

Farmers’ Market
The County’s first EBT-accessible farmers market. Located in the heart of City Heights, the Market has become the community heart, a vibrant shopping place for ethnic specialty produce and an emerging jobs incubator for City Heights food and farming entrepreneurs.  The City Heights Farmers’ Market takes place on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm on Wightman between 43rd and Fairmount (one block south of University).

Healthy Food  and Nutrition
Nutrition education programs ensure that refugees are knowledgeable about nutrition and have access to healthy emergency food. Youth Food Justice
The SBO  manages  three internship food justice  programs in City Heights which train youth in urban farming and food justice advocacy through an after-school job-training program.