Success stories EJOM: Mariam Cissé - expanding horticulture activities

Crops in field

"If I would have had these skills and vision five years ago, I would have come a long way today"

The lack of meaningful youth employment opportunities in Mali can be attributed to several factors, including the lack of demand, the mismatch between initial training and labour market needs, and insufficient entrepreneurship. The EJOM project addresses several of these factors to create meaningful employment opportunities. We talked to participants who have been able to transform their business with training and support from the EJOM project. Here is the story of Amina.

"I am Mariam Cissé. I’m married and a mother of two children. I live in Kayes."

My husband’s family has been active in horticulture for a long time. They own a large plot of land and each member of the family can cultivate a portion of the land. Horticulture has been the main activity of the male family members. The women in general only grow vegetables for their household’s consumption and sell the surplus on local markets. We contribute to our household’s income that way, but it is on a small scale and we don’t grow vegetables on a commercial basis.

The life skills and entrepreneurship training of the EJOM project, allowed me to think bigger. I used to grow vegetables on quarter hectare. Thanks to the training I understood that I have a great opportunity that can change my life. Afterwards, I asked my husband to give me some more land on the family plot so that I could better develop my activity. Now, I cultivate plants on half a hectare.

Mariam with her plot of aubergines

Mariam with her plot of aubergines

Mariam on her new plot with cucumbers

Mariam on her new plot with cucumbers

Before the training I knew nothing about business management, I lived day to day without any planning. With the application of the management rules, I'm able to plan my expenses and have less difficulties as a result. I consider fuel costs to operate the irrigation system, and expenses for pesticides to treat infestations for example. This allows me to project my future and develop my activity.

Vegetable gardening requires the availability of sufficient water at all times. With the starting kit, I helped improve the existing irrigation system on the family's plot, purchased seeds and basic equipment. The technical training taught me the best period for the cultivation of each vegetable and to draw up a planting schedule. The training also gave me the idea to plant eggplants instead of lettuce during the hot period. It takes considerably less work to grow. It also requires a lot less water, which means less fuel to operate the generator for the watering system. So compared to previous years, my income will grow while my expenses will be lower as I used to grow lettuce at huge costs. Also, I have started growing two vegetables at the same time. Currently I’m harvesting and selling aubergines. On the other half of my plot, I planted cucumbers that I intend to put on the market in two months. During the training, we also talked about the staking technique which I will apply to my cucumbers in a few weeks. I have learned how to be careful to pick up the flowers on the plants. They should already be considered as vegetables and each flower that falls of the plant, represents lost money.

Today, this activity makes me an independent and entrepreneurial woman. Before I had to stop my education, to become a health advisor due to financial difficulties as it costs 300,000 CFAF (€450) per year. Thanks to the income from my horticulture activities, I will be able to resume my studies, and obtain my diploma.