This article explores how academics and practitioners can collaborate to decolonise development in relation to Somalia/Somaliland. It does so through theoretical synthesis followed by an inductive thematic empirical analysis and collaborative autoethnography of the Somali First initiative to promote Somali-led development. The initiative has been run by Somali social enterprise Transparency Solutions and the University of Bristol since 2014. The article argues that underpinning the initiative with commitments to sustainable development as a global issue and to locally led, simple, complicated and complex change has been vital to ensuring that it contributes to decolonising development in Somalia/Somaliland. It argues further that the decolonisation of development in this case has been advanced through long term partnership grounded in a shared purpose and complementary capacities; maximisation of funding for and control of funding by Somali entities; decentring English and centring Somali linguistic diversity; promoting a locally led approach; and employing co-production. It concludes that scaling up or transfer of the approach set out in the article would involve reinterpretation by local actors to suit the context to be an effective contribution to decolonising development.