Support to Investment

Investing in Mali’s future

04/09/2020

Four out of five Malians living in rural communities do not have access to financial capital to develop economic activities. This can result in food shortages, reliance on a subsistence economy and no financial safety net.

FAO is providing technical assistance to an IFAD-funded rural microfinance programme helping the Malian Government improve the access of around 500 000 low-income rural Malians to financial services.

Under way since 2011, the programme’s approach for financial inclusion supports income-generating activities and community savings groups. Local NGOs have trained community groups on financial literacy, business plan preparation, networking with financial institutions, loan application and repayment and management support.

Thanks to the programme, more rural Malians are now bankable, including women and young people. In fact, about 105 000 rural poor women – roughly 4 000 groups – are now among the microfinance institutions’ solvent clients. One is the Djekafo women’s group in Dioro. With financial support and training, the group has diversified its business activities. Members are now transforming millet into a nutritional supplement to fight against child malnutrition, while saving money for unexpected expenses.

The programme has helped 15 participating microfinance institutions become more professional by adopting adapted management information systems, improving governance, reporting and internal controls and learning new agricultural and rural finance methodologies. The programme has also helped the institutions diversify and tailor their products to fit smallholders’ needs, like micro-leasing, warehouse receipts and ‘saving credit with education’, a tool incorporating education on topics such as nutrition, good hygiene and sanitation and functional literacy.

The Centre assisted the Government in creating a viable refinancing mechanism to strengthen the sustainability of the microfinance institutions. This major innovation facilitates the institutions’ access to concessional loans. It also provides a long-term response to the inadequacy and volatility of rural savings, and a sustainable alternative to the challenges faced by rural microfinance institutions in accessing the financial market.

More reliable access to financing will help rural Malians grow their businesses, which in turn can open up jobs attractive to young people along the agricultural supply chain.

Photo credit ©FAO/Jordi Vaque
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