Courage and Cashew Orchards Create Lasting Opportunities

  • IMPACT Highlights

Mrs. Sanago demonstrates cashew processing. Enterprise Natio works closely with two Sikasso-based Peace Corps Volunteers.

This success story is part of the Mali Finance for Food Security and Women Entrepreneurs (FFSWE) program that focuses on improving the lending environment in Mali for women entrepreneurs and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). This project provides technical support for the MSMEs and partner financial institutions through risk management, outreach, and technical expertise and financial intermediation advisory support designed to help mitigate risks and costs associated with lending to these entrepreneurs.

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.

Mrs. Sanogo Namarou started working on her father’s orchard in the 1980s. At the time, cashews were the main crop in the orchard and Mrs. Sanogo quickly became interested expanding the business. In 1984, a still very young Sanogo Namarou started training and integrating local women into her cooperative. This supported the growth of her business and provided them experience in the cashew trade. By 1989, she had trained enough women to open her first cashew processing unit.

In 2007, Mrs. Sanogo Namarou was able to establish her own company, Natio Cajou. Their products can be found both in Mali and in other African and European countries, including: Burkina Faso, Morocco, Spain and France. Natio Cajou currently exports 17 tons of product per quarter and needs to purchase more raw materials so she can continue to expand her business into other international markets. In 2016, thanks to the help of the Mali Finance for Food Security and Women Entrepreneurs (FFSWE) program, the company will benefit from a $35,897 loan from the Bank of Africa.

The success of her business has given Mrs. Sanogo the ability to ensure her father’s retirement and prevented their land from being appropriated. Providing women with good work opportunities has always been a priority for Mrs. Sanogo Namarou. Today the company employs 25 people permanently, 80 percent of whom are women. These women are all members of the cooperative that Mrs. Sanogo Namarou owns and which continues to grow.

I did not have the chance to study for very long; I worked as a matron and was responsible for my parents, sisters and my own household. The salary of matron was not enough, so I decided to form a business in the agriculture sector in search for a better livelihood. Thanks to the loan I received from the Bank of Africa, today we have a profitable company.