Young food heroes in Mali
The agricultural value chain is made up of several players, all food heroes. In Mali, they are involved in its version of the Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE/EJOM). Financed by the European Union at 95.5%, SNV at 2.5% and the APEJ at 2%, it is implemented by a consortium composed of ICCO Cooperation, Waste, APEJ and SNV, which leads the project. The main objective of the project is to create jobs for 8,620 young people in four sectors: horticulture, waste management, agri-food and utilitarian crafts.
From housewife to main actor in the food value chain
Mariam Mohamed Haidara is one of the young beneficiaries of the EJOM project for the year 2018. She works in the horticulture sector and has chosen to sell/market horticultural products to self-employ and facilitate access to market garden products to women in her neighbourhood in Niamana ATT Bougou in the district of Bamako.
Before the project, Mariam was a housewife, with no lucrative activity. After her selection by the EJOM project, she participated in the various trainings (in life skills and business management and then in the technique and practice of horticulture). With the support of the EJOM project, she began her business selling horticultural products which she sources supplies from the Yirimadio market. For the exercise of her activity, Mariam managed a space in front of her house to install a kiosk as a store in order to keep its products, thanks to the starter kit that the EJOM project grants to each beneficiary (300, 000 CFA francs) which has allowed her to have a large stock of horticultural products.
At the beginning, her products consist of potato, onion, okra, eggplant, tomato. After a few months of activities, she has diversified her business with other complementary products. If at the start of the activity, her turnover was 3,000 F CFA/day, she earned 7,500 to 10,000 F CFA/day after 5 months of running her business. Due to her results, Mariam received a second financial support from the projects in March 2019. Amounting to 750,000 CFA, this gave a big boost to her activities allowing her to earn 20,000F CFA/day.
"EJOM is a good initiative. The project raises awareness among young people about the role they have to play in the society. With the 300,000 F CFA seed fund, someone can succeed in setting up a business unless he lacks the will and motivation. At the beginning, I thought the 300,000 F CFA was insufficient, but it is possible even if it was not easy. I was also motivated by my father and husband. These two men in my life have taught me that success comes from will and engagement. The additional funds offered me was also important for the success of my business. Now I see myself as an important actor in the agricultural value chain,” Mariam says.
Social inclusion through agriculture
Oumar Faroga Keita holds a master's degree in law but was unemployed for a long time until he discovered EJOM. Born with a physical handicap on one leg, he started entrepreneurship by setting up the vegetable production company Djiguiya Agrobusiness with the support of the EJOM project.
Selected as a beneficiary in 2018, he took part in the basic entrepreneurship and life skills training which has boosted his self-confidence. The technical training in horticulture has taught him the techniques of vegetable production especially the cultivation of onions and tomatoes. He now produces tomatoes, onions, okra and eggplant throughout the year. His quarterly turnover amounts to 470,000 F CFA on average. He employs three permanent and temporary staff members depending on the season.
With his basic training, he takes care of business operations including accounting. The revenues generated from the sale of his horticultural produce allows him to not only take care of himself but contribute to his family's income. With the income generated from his produce, Oumar has diversified his crops, bought himself a motorcycle pump and plans to acquire his own plot larger than the one his father has where he now operates to increase his production, income and eventually employ other young people.