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Mali: Women access credit through an NGO mechanism

It’s Friday afternoon and Mariame Diarra is proudly turning off the motor-powered water pump installed in her market garden in Dougabougou, located 20 kilometers from Markala in the Ségou region of Mali. She bought this motor pump thanks to a loan from the Ngon Démé “Solidarity” association, which is supported by a local organization called ALPHALOG.

She says: “After I joined the association, I contributed 1,500 FCFA ($2.65 US) per month. Three months later, I asked for a loan of 200,000 ($354 US) to pay for my motor pump.”

In Mali, it is difficult for rural women to access credit. Often women do not meet the conditions of formal financial institutions because they do not own land or other valuable assets which they can offer as collateral.

To help women access credit, ALPHALOG uses a fund at the Banque Malienne de Solidarité (BMS), which allows it to guarantee loans to women’s associations. Before they loan the funds, the organization trains women’s groups on topics like management, business plan development, basic mathematics, and record keeping. This training helps women to strengthen their skills, sell their products, and make more profit. Once the women have completed the training, they are eligible to receive the credit.

ALPHALOG works with women’s groups at their request. But in order to benefit from the partnership, the women’s groups must present a document which shows that the group is recognized by law. After reaching an agreement with the women’s group, ALPHALOG withdraws the amount granted from the fund and makes it available to them.

ALPHALOG keeps in contact with the women’s groups through regular monitoring. These meetings help the women to manage their projects as well as their funds.

Thanks to the credit offered through the program, Mrs. Diarra was able to purchase a motor-powered pump to help boost her market garden production. She will repay her loan in six months by making payments of 25,000 FCFA ($44). The agreement allows her a grace period of two months before she must begin to repay the loan.

Mr. Dramane Mariko is the coordinator of the Accountable Local Governance Program, which is a project implemented by ALPHALOG that allows women’s groups to access credit. Mr. Mariko says he is satisfied to see the women benefit from the credits to finance their activities.

He explains: “Generally the banks do not trust women because they do not have collateral to seize in the event of non-repayment of the loan. With this training system, we strengthen the trust between women and the banks and we support the women closely in the execution of their project until their loans are fully reimbursed.”

To date, more than 150 women from 10 women’s groups have benefitted from credit provided through ALPHALOG. As a result, the women strengthen their trade activities to meet their needs and contribute to the well-being of their family. Such is the case of Mrs. Diarra who, since the purchase of her motorized pump, has seen her income increase considerably. The extra income allows her to support her only daughter’s education by buying clothes and school supplies.

But not all rural women in Mali have the same chance to receive support from ALPHALOG. Nayini Traoré is a resident of Massala, a village located in the rural commune of N’gara in Ségou. Despite several attempts, Mrs. Traoré has not been able to access credit through a bank.

She says: “In January 2021, I registered with a savings and credit union where I deposit my money. But as for the credit, I have asked several times to no avail. I don’t have any collateral – it turns out that if I couldn’t repay my loan, that’s what the bank will take as a refund. Because of this obstacle I cannot access credit.”

This resource is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.

Photo: A woman walks through palm fronds in Velingara, Senegal. Credit: Tara Sprickerhoff, 2019.