Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, with few prospects for its mostly rural residents. Already an important hub for regional and seasonal migration, the country has become one of the major transit points for migrants in the region, funnelling people from West Africa to Europe. But the loss of its own people, especially young men seeking a brighter future elsewhere, is taking its toll as Mali is slowly drained of its workforce.
A boost to small and medium-sized private businesses
Over it's five year and nine months of operation, PACEPEP – Programme d’Appui de la Croissance Economique et la Promotion d’Emplois Stimulés par le Secteur Privé (Programme Supporting Economic Growth and the Promotion of Private-Sector Employment Creation in Mali) – tried to create hope and employment for young people. It focused mostly on small and medium-sized private enterprises (SMEs) and organisations involved in value chains like poultry, maize, herbal tea, livestock, dairy products, greens, and handicrafts.
The programme’s overall development objectives were the creation of sustainable economic growth and employment, with an expected consolidation and creation of 7,070 jobs and support for hundreds of entrepreneurs. To achieve this, PACEPEP offered business advice and training, co-financed investments and loan guarantees, and supported infrastructure projects. All businesses seeking financial support from the programme had to contribute 40-60% of the requested investment, with facts such as ecology, gender and size playing a role. The majority of business owners contributed 60% of the required funding.
Funded by Denmark and targeted at the regions of Mopti, Sikasso, Segou, and Bamako district, PACEPEP was comprised of three components. NIRAS provided technical assistance in the first two:
The private sector advisory support scheme aimed to facilitate access to financing for SMEs, increase their investment capacity, and improve public-private sector dialogue. Implemented by the National Council of Malian Employers (CNPM), this aspect of the project provided co-financing to 382 SMEs operating in the agriculture sector valued at CFA 11.7 billion, CFA 7 billion of which was provided by the SMEs themselves.
Infrastructure projects supported 40 major initiatives to the tune of CFA 9 billion. These included for example livestock and vegetable markets, slaughterhouses, roads and rural tracks.
Business development training was offered to the enterprises of component one for four years by Swiss Contact. NIRAS took over the training in the last year of PACEPEP and focused on simplified management and technical training (e.g. the butchers in improved hygiene). The programme did a lot of coaching of entrepreneurs − especially young people and women − in developing and implementing business plans and maintaining a sustainable business.
The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Ms Ulla Tørnæs visited Mali in October 2017.
It is absolutely necessary to create hope for the future for young people in Africa in order to create economic growth and reduce the migration to Europe.
Eggs and irrigation
Since eggs are an especially sought-after product in Mali, a lot of PACEPEP’s work went into supporting egg farmers in increasing their output. (Click here to read stories of some PACEPEP beneficiaries.)
Another recurring theme in PACEPEP’s work was overcoming seasonal challenges for farmers. Mali has traditionally been heavily dependent on rain-fed agricultural activities, which is a structural problem worsened by changing weather conditions and the effects of climate change. The programme therefore supported irrigation-based “off-season” cultivation, especially of vegetables that thrive in these conditions.
PACEPEP also produced seven studies on poultry, livestock and meat, milk, maize, mango, citrus fruits and onions / shallots; each study is accompanied by a technical sheet of market analysis. You can read the reports (in French) on the Mali Directorate of Rural Engineering website.
The women of Gaduu Kaduu Nema, a cooperative that transforms cassava into attiéké.
PACEPEP contributed mainly to SDG 8 and target 8.3 as it promoted productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, and the growth of SMMEs, and facilitated improved access to financial services. The project also contributed to SDG 2, SDG 7, and SDG 9 by achieving food security; ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy − through the electricity and solar energy project component − and by building resilient infrastructure through the renovation or construction of crossroads and access-ways to markets and dairies.