Increasing Women’s Access to Credit and Market in Mali

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Fanta Sogoré portrait photo
Mali Finance for Food Security and Women Entrepreneur

“That loan allowed me to increase my working capital and get more income.  Part of the income enabled me to support school fees, school furniture and clothes for my five children,” explains Sogoré proudly.

February 2019 – Fanta Sogoré has been trading fresh and smoked fish for over 30 years now. Since the age of 15, she has traveled 100 kilometers each week to the town of Selingué to purchase products from local fishermen. Sogoré then sell these products in a community in the nation’s capital of Bamako where over a thousand households live.

Most would find their hands full with traveling to and from Selingué and working every day, but Sogoré felt motivated to expand her business. The only question was how she would go about it.  The African Women Entrepreneurship Program, a partner of the Finance for Food Security and Women Entrepreneurs funded by USAID, held the answer. Sogoré joined the program, where she received management training and learned how to use accounting systems and do profit calculations. She also learned how to establish an operating account and use balance sheets.  She then opened a savings account at Bank of Africa, and applied for a loan, which she used to purchase additional fish to sell in the market.

The Finance for Food Security and Women Entrepreneurs Program has trained over 8,500 women since it started, enabling 581 of them to secure loans from financial institutions.

Having developed a trustworthy track record with the bank, Sogoré applied for and received a second loan.  With that loan, she improved her working conditions and increased her revenue streams, purchasing an additional fish stand as well as a vegetable stand in the central market of Faladié in Bamako.

“The two stands I was able to install in the market give my business operations security because the selling at the market is safer than at the edge of the road, as I used to do,” remarked Sogoré.

With business on the upswing, Sogoré also chose to diversify her income by starting in a livestock enterprise, where she contributes to sheep fattening. She has the moral support from her husband, a retired teacher, and her five children.

Today Sogoré’s monthly sales have increased by 150%. She is currently considering applying for a third loan in order to further expand her business. She hopes to expand her fish stand network in Bamako and invest in a refrigerator to maintain her fish in a cooled state.   

Reflecting on the African Women Entrepreneurship Program, Sogoré says, “The technical support and the two loans I received helped me to revive my business and diversify my sources of income. Before, I had less than 15 clients a day; today I have more than 40 clients a day on average.”

The five-year Feed the Future Mali Finance for Food Security and Women Entrepreneurs aims to create a more robust agricultural financial sector and empower women business owners.  The program, which started in 2015 has helped 35,499 micro, small, and medium enterprises—out of which 62% are owned by women—receiving technical assistance. This $ 2.97 million program covers the regions of Kayes, Sikasso, Mopti and the capital Bamako.

Last updated: October 07, 2020

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