Mohamed Warsame began at Tyson’s Dakota City plant as a meat cutter, but, lacking knife skills, was soon assigned to pack and lift boxes. “They say, ‘We will know if you are really hardworking guy,’” he says, laughing.
Now, seven years later, Warsame has cross-trained at every job on the floor and works in Food Safety and Quality Assurance, inspecting production lines. Throughout his tenure, he has worked either the 5 a.m. shift or the evening shift, and spent his free time attending school or developing his business, Sugal Consulting, where he acts as a cultural liaison and helps new Americans navigate U.S. tax, legal, and real estate services. He graduated from Western Iowa Tech Community College in 2017.
“When I came here in 2011, I realized a majority of my community, from Somalia and East Africa, they don’t have much information,” he says. Many were making a 10-hour roundtrip to Minneapolis for help. Warsame, whose family fled civil war in Somalia, had offered the same help at a Kenyan refugee camp when he was 16. It was natural he would do the same in his 20s, in South Sioux City.
“My main goal is just to listen to people and give consultation,” he says. “Most of them need dentistry or doctor’s appointments, so I make all those connections.” Once word got out, apartment managers called for advice on how to help refugees adapt. Hospitals, city leaders, and businesses sought an interpreter. Soon other refugees began asking more complex questions.
“A lot of people here, especially those from Muslim countries, they would like to buy a house or a business, but they don’t have a credit score,” he says. “So they come to me: ‘Mohamed, is there a way you can help?’”
A lot of people here, especially those from Muslim countries, they would like to buy a house or a business, but they don’t have a credit score. So they come to me: ‘Mohamed, is there a way you can help?’”
If Warsame can help newcomers buy property—he is studying for his real estate license now—it will both boost real estate values for Siouxlanders and ease the rental shortage. “Immigrants and refugees, when they buy houses, they integrate into the community,” says Warsame, who in 2018 was recognized by the South Sioux City Chamber of Commerce with the Cardinal Heritage Award for his service. “It creates a good neighborhood environment and the city becomes very happy.”