Centro de inversiones de la FAO

Toward greater financial inclusion in Mali


Four out of five Malians living in rural communities do not have access to financial capital to develop economic activities. An IFAD-funded rural microfinance programme is working to change that by improving the access of around 500,000 low-income rural Malians to financial services. 

The Investment Centre led the programme’s design in 2009 and continued to support its implementation in 2017. The Centre not only helped develop an effective approach to financial inclusion, but it assisted the Government in creating a viable refinancing mechanism to strengthen the sustainability of the participating microfinance institutions. 

This refinancing mechanism is a major innovation for Mali’s financial sector, as it facilitates microfinance institutions’ access to concessional loans. It also provides a long-term response to the inadequacy and volatility of rural savings, as well as a sustainable alternative to the challenges faced by rural microfinance institutions in accessing the financial market. Lessons from the programme indicate that there is no future for the financial inclusion of the rural poor without a sustainable refinancing mechanism dedicated to rural financial systems. 

Thanks to the programme’s participatory approach, 105,000 rural women – roughly 4,000 groups – are among those now banked and solvent clients of the microfinance institutions. These groups have been trained on financial literacy, business plan preparation, networking with financial institutions and management support. 

The programme has also strengthened and professionalized 15 microfinance institutions through the implementation of adapted management information systems, training on agricultural and rural finance methodologies and tools and tailored financial products, including microleasing, warrantage and ‘saving-credit with education’, a tool incorporating education on topics such as nutrition, good hygiene and sanitation and functional literacy. 

Another important programme component has centred on restructuring and consolidating the microfinance sector to bring microfinance institutions into compliance with new regulations. This has helped improve the quality of institutional governance, reporting and internal controls.


Image:©FAO/Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak
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