Strengthening the Lending Environment for Women Entrepreneurs
The Finance for Food Security and Women Entrepreneurs program (FFSWE) is improving the lending environment in Mali for women entrepreneurs and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the targeted value chains: rice, millet, sorghum, livestock and agroforestry. Utilizing skilled volunteers, this program provides technical support for the MSMEs and partner financial institutions in accessing USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA). FFSWE offers opportunities to women that they otherwise would lack, and strengthens the role that women can play in the Malian economy at large. To date, over 7,700 women have received direct support with a total value of $2,168,775 in DCA loans disbursed.
The DCA encourages lending by sharing risk with the bank (up to 50 percent of the loan) and helps to put money in the hands of entrepreneurs around the world. Eighty percent of Mali’s population is involved in agricultural activities, and the agriculture sector has great potential to drive economic growth. Yet Mali’s farmers and entrepreneurs, especially women, struggle to get loans because banks and financial institutions are hesitant to lend.
FFSWE, funded jointly by USAID/Mali and Swedish Sida, connects entrepreneurs in Mali to credit that is guaranteed by the Development Credit Authority, targeting agribusinesses all along the value chain and particularly women-owned businesses.
This VEGA program is implemented by IESC – the International Executive Service Corps – under VEGA’s Leader with Associate award. VEGA member NCBA CLUSA and local Malian firm DC Consulting are also contributing to the program.
FFSWE works with both partners in the loan relationship, providing training and technical assistance to financial institutions and prospective borrowers. To help mitigate risks and costs associated with lending to entrepreneurs, the program will build capacity in risk management, outreach, technical expertise and financial intermediation. IESC is helping Malians to develop these skills by drawing on an extensive pool of highly skilled and diaspora volunteers like Haoua Cheick Seip, VEGA Volunteer of the Year 2012.
Courage and Cashew Orchards Create Lasting Opportunities
Mrs. Sanogo Namarou Coulibaly, from Sikasso, is one of the largest exporters of cashew nuts in Mali. The oldest of six girls, Mrs. Coulibaly left school early to get married so she could financially help her parents. However, from an early age she showed the desire to be an independent woman and to ensure a better life for her family. Read more
Gie Djeyasso is a Bamako-based company founded in 2005 by Mrs. Diallo Hawa Traorem. The company imports, markets and sells soaps from Ivory Coast, called “Gabakourouni.” Gie Djeyasso was one of the first companies in Bamako to formalize the import and sale of Ivorian soap. Her customers mainly consist of women, wholesalers and retailers who then sell the soaps in the markets of Bamako, Koulikoro and Kati. By 2015, Mrs. Diallo was selling an average of 1,000 bags of soap per month. Read more