Creating new and sustaining existing agri-jobs in Mali


Members of Gaduu Kaduu Nema cooperative transforming cassava.

With co-financing and training support from Danida, small and medium-sized businesses, cooperatives, and public-private partnerships have upgraded operations and improved infrastructure, increasing income and improving livelihoods.

Situated in the village of Mamabougou, in Mali’s southeast region of Sikasso, Moussa Sidibé’s farm is busy producing fresh brown and white eggs. Moussa is well-respected among his fellow farmers as well as the financial community. That’s because in five short years he has almost doubled production and become one of the top five bird breeders in the area. 

In 2014, Moussa had three brooding houses comprising about 2000 hens each. His market extended well beyond Sikasso into other regions but he had trouble meeting demand. 

Before we were just known as Sidibé’s Farm, but today we are a registered business called Agro-Mali South.

Mousa Sidibé, Owner and Founder.

To increase production, he reached out to PACEPEP, a programme co-funded by Danida to support economic growth and the promotion of private-sector employment creation in Mali that ran from 2014 until the end of September this year. Putting down his own financing - and important aspect of the programme which required businesses to contribute up to 60% toward the requested investment - Moussa asked for support in building two more henhouses with automatic trough equipment and modern feeders as well as extensive fencing.

Before receiving any financing, the PACEPEP team made multiple visits to discuss the farm’s breeding activities and gather data. When the funding was approved and associated business development training rolled out, the upgraded brooding house enabled Moussa to significantly reduce water consumption and feedstock costs.

The hens of Agro-Mali South gathering around the new feeders.

The hens were also happy.

“The new systems also reduced the time my staff spent among the hens,” Moussa explains.” This reduced their stress levels and they produced more and better quality eggs. By 2017, production had almost doubled and we were meeting 96% of market demand.”

Moussa’s results were so impressive, that PACEPEP extended financing support so he could update the three original brooding houses. At the same time, he began cultivating corn so he could feed the hens and used their droppings as manure for the soil.

Scenes from the farm.

“With PACEPEP’s support and the business training I received I was able to guarantee the continued employment of my eight staff and hire six more. All my employees receive housing and food as well as healthcare. I’ve become familiar with computer software and use it regularly in my business. In fact, we are the only agri-business in the area that does this,” Moussa says proudly.

Bolstering the whole value chain

In addition to individual businesses like Moussa’s, PACEPEP supported organisations working together as part of a value chain. These so-called “integrated projects” were very much the focus in the last years of the programme as results were better and gains spread more widely. 

Founded by seven women in Bandiagara, Gaduu Kaduu Nema is a cooperative that transforms cassava into attiéké, a popular side dish not unlike couscous, and derived products like tapioca. The group works with five female-run vending partners who operate from the main markets in local townships, selling the attiéké in raw form or as meals. The partnership is set out in a contract and the only of its kind in the region.

“Before PACEPEP, the means we had to make attiéké were very basic,” says Habi Poudiougou, President of the cooperative. “The financing enabled us to purchase a complete processing unit in Bandiagara’s industrial zone with all the proper equipment and most importantly refrigeration. Each township was able to buy a tricycle motorbike for the delivery of the attiéké.”


The vendors also benefitted from PACEPEP as each was able to invest in a permanent market spot along with cooking equipment and other inputs to better serve customers whose numbers have increased significantly.

Increased efficiency, greater output and higher income

Also in the region of Sikasso, Demba Sissoko runs a fruit and vegetable processing and preservation business. Launched more than ten years ago, Demba’s small business was officially registered in 2016. UTS-Mariam Traoré focuses on produce that is not currently available in the market as the season has ended, selling dried mangos and shallots, precooked fonio and djouka grain, sesame oil, and corn- and soya-based poultry feed for example.

Everyone’s business has improved. Our client base has grown and today we transform 100 tonnes of cassava a year compared to 60 earlier. The vendors’ revenue has also gotten bigger thanks to the greater availability of attiéké

Habi Poudiougou, President of Gaduu Kaduu Nema.

UTS-Mariam Traoré does not operate in isolation. Like Gaduu Kaduu Nema, the company partners with a three small female-owned businesses, who process the inputs that the lead firm supplies, which it then packages and sells on the market.

“The network we have created has given us access to training on improved processing techniques for fruits and vegetables, cereals and meat,” Demba says. “I myself train others and have been working with young people to encourage them to enter the sector.

The modernisation of our equipment has made our employees more efficient and increased our profitability.

Demba Sissoko, Owner and Founder, UTS-Mariam Traoré.

When I started this, I hired four employees. Today we are more than twenty. As our market grows, we will be able to create more jobs.”

With support from PACEPEP, the UTS-Mariam Traoré upgraded its processing facilities and formalised its contracts with its partners, whose facilities and equipment were also modernised, ensuring faster turnaround, sustainability of supply and increased income for all parties. These efforts have reduced UTS-Mariam Traoré purchasing costs by 25% and doubled productivity among its workers. The firm has also expanded its product line – soap and creams processed from honey as well as biscuits and cakes – and is in the process of receiving certification from the National Agency of Food Safety to export its products.

Packaging dried shallots at UTS-Mariam Traoré.

A win-win for public-private partnerships

Another important component of PACEPEP is support for public infrastructure, such as roads and markets that also benefit the growth of the private sector. Due to its strategic position along a transfrontier route between Guinea, the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, the Sikasso region has emerged as an important livestock breeding location. With a pre-existing slaughterhouse in the area, the community of Yanfolila was in much need of complementary modern butchery facilities. PACEPEP supported the initiative which gathered all the area butchers into one cooperative, ensuring improved market access and more hygienic conditions than those available at roadside butchers. The project, driven by the butchers themselves and supported by the local council, was a win-win for businesses and the public alike. Tax revenue also improved as the butchers are now part of a legitimate commercial operation.

A butcher serves customers at the new Yanfolila butchery.

As Karim Kanambaye, president of the butcher’s cooperative points out, “our customers are happy because they know exactly where to find us, there’s no more walking for kilometres around Yanfolila searching for meat. It all here in one place.”

After five years and nine months of activity, PACEPEP draws to a close but the €31-million-programme’s legacy lives on in terms of improved local capacity, greater access to finance for SMEs, new partnerships – particularly between the public and private sector but also along the value chain – and 10,000 new or consolidated jobs.

Get in touch

Inge Schou

Inge Schou

Social Anthropologist & Senior Project Manager

København, Denmark