Earlier this year Mohamed Ali was reminded once again of the dangers of living and working in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
"The basic idea is active capitalism - using capitalism as a tool for development rather than aid," he says. "We invest in these businesses and take an equity stake."Instead of just giving out grants we have a stake in their success - and their success means we are generating income that we can use to support our activity."
One of the biggest challenges is finding investors. Most Somali entrepreneurs are unable to finance debt, while Islamic law prohibits interest payments on loans.
In the absence of any government support, funding must come entirely from private sources. Some 80% of investment is in the form of remittances from Somali communities in the US or Europe.
"It's been a challenge and so far on a small scale - $5,000 to $15,000 [£3,000 to £9,000 per project]. But it doesn't take that much to start up a business in Somalia.
"We have been successful at this scale, and our hope in the next year or two is to make larger investments and engage bigger donors."
Amber Gardens and Florists is typical of the type of business the Iftiin Foundation supports. It was launched in Mogadishu last year by Mohamed Mohamoud.
The Iftiin Foundation connected him with foreign investors and landscaping experts, and he now employs 20 people locally.
But success carries great risk in Somalia because it draws the attention of militant groups such as al-Shabab.
"One of the great effects of my business is that Somalis are buying flowers for their sweethearts on Valentine's Day," says Mohamed Mohamoud. "Organisations like al-Shabab do not believe in these sentiments - but that has not stopped me."
Mohamed Mohamoud thinks he is still the only florist operating in Mogadishu but is optimistic about the future.
"I would not be doing this if I did not believe that Mogadishu would return to its former beauty and success and I hope my business will contribute to that."
Mohamed Ali says such attitudes are common among Somali entrepreneurs - in spite of the dangers.
On New Year's Day, the Jazeera Hotel in Mogadishu was bombed. A few months earlier it had been the venue for a youth enterprise summit organised by the Iftiin Foundation. One of the speakers was Ahmed Jama, owner of the Village Restaurant in Mogadishu.
"Six days [after the summit] his restaurant was bombed by al-Shabab killing 15 people," says Mr Ali. "When I spoke to him, although he was heartbroken, he told me he would rebuild and reopen. He would not let terror win."
To help build a wider business culture in the country, the Iftiin Foundation has joined forces with a UK-based media production company to create a TV reality series that is due to air this year.
It will follow the lives of entrepreneurs in Somalia in the hope of introducing the concept of entrepreneurship to a wider audience.
"I'm really confident this initiative can be successful," he says. "These entrepreneurs are thirsty for opportunity.
"They know the community - they have been living there all their lives - so we're not bringing in people from abroad. We're giving them the support they need to be successful."
Mr Ali says the Iftiin Foundation is a project of passion - he supports himself by working as a consultant for US-based Somali non-profit organisations. But he hopes it will start making enough of a return that he will be able to move back to Mogadishu in the next few months and work there full time.
"I don't think I'm brave," he says. "Young people face worse dangers in Mogadishu every day and they go on with their lives.
"They go to work and they go to school. Their stories inspire me and keep me motivated."