Agriculture is a vital sector in Mali. Photo Ray Witlin / World Bank

Technical assistance to private entrepreneurship in agriculture in Mali

Chicken, tea and maize create jobs in rural Mali, helping reduce emigration

NIRAS is helping to create agriculture sector jobs in the West African country of Mali. This creates opportunities for young people in particular, enabling them to avoid the tough decision of leaving their rural homes in search of employment elsewhere.

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

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) – tries to create hope and employment for young people. It focuses 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 are to create 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 offers business advice and training, co-financing of investments, and loan guarantees, and works to improve infrastructure. In practical terms, this meant road construction and building crossings to enable farmers to bring their products to the market easier, and helping aspiring farmers finance the first investments in equipment.

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 has gone into supporting egg farmers in increasing their output.  

Another recurring theme in PACEPEP’s work has been 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 has therefore supported irrigation-based “off-season” cultivation, especially of vegetables that thrive in these conditions. 

The modernisation of marketplaces with better hygiene practices to improve product quality has likewise been a focus point and, last but not least, the programme has done a lot of coaching of entrepreneurs − especially young people and women − in developing and implementing business plans and maintaining a sustainable business. 

Employees of an agri-business. Photo: © James Martone / World Bank

Almost 7000 jobs created or consolidated

NIRAS provides technical assistance to PACEPEP, which by late 2017 had succeeded in creating and consolidating 6,984 jobs and aims to do so for 7,070 by the time the project ends in December 2018. To date, the programme has handled around 500 support requests.   

SDGs targeted

PACEPEP contributes mainly to SDG 8 and target 8.3, as it promotes productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, and the growth of SMMEs, and facilitates improved access to financial services. The project also contributes 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.