Unrecognised internationally, Somaliland operates as a hybrid political order where a range of state and non-state entities provide security, representation and social services. Local business elites have impacted state formation after war by lobbying against a range of regulations, providing the government with loans and contributions rather than paying sufficient taxes, and by hindering the development of sound financial institutions. The success of such activities has led to de facto protectionism, where foreign ventures have had limited access to the Somaliland market. While such protectionism may have negatively impacted economic development and growth opportunities, recent engagements by multinational corporations in the Berbera port suggest that foreign private investments risk sparking violent conflict. In contrast, domestic businessmen have played a role in preventing or resolving violent conflict at crucial stages in Somaliland’s recent history. Based on fieldwork in Somaliland, we argue that the impact of international corporate actors in post-war contexts needs to be understood in light of local culture and power dynamics, in which the political and economic roles of local business elites are central.