An integrated system of plant, animal and fish production in the Sikasso region in Mali

Entrepreneurial ecosystems
In 2019, Albert Dembele, a 29-year-old lawyer by training, is embarking on an entrepreneurship journey. After travelling around the sub-region and completing an agribusiness training course in Benin, Albert created his company "AgroDem". 

Passionate about agriculture, Albert has been working on his parents' farm in the Sikasso region since he was very young. After his training as a lawyer, Albert decided to change the direction of his career and went into agribusiness. With a 4 hectare plot of land, he launched his business based on an integrated system of agricultural and fish production. On his return from training in Benin, Albert started by planting 200 papaya plants. He soon realised, however, that with a 26-metre deep well, the watering work was too laborious and did not allow him to diversify his production.

After several searches for financing, Albert discovered the Fonds d'Appui à la Création d'Entreprise par les Jeunes (FACEJ). He contacted one of the support offices for farmers' organisations, Fitine-Consult, to draw up his business plan. The innovative aspect of his project was to associate a fish farm with his agricultural activity, and to add value to the fish, which is produced by smoking it and adding ginger flavour to it. Very quickly, he was selected by the FACEJ selection committee and obtained a bank loan of 2,648,000 FCFA (CHF 4 448).

This loan enabled him to install a borehole powered by solar panels, a feeding shed and a second fish pond. After only one year, Albert is producing papayas, okra, melons, watermelons, cucumbers, peppers and potatoes. He also raises cattle, pigs and poultry, and has two fish ponds that allow him to produce up to 2 000 kg of fresh catfish, of which 500 kg is smoked. With the help of his 3 employees, Albert sells his products in the regions of Sikasso, Bamako, Koutiala and Ségou, and also exports his poultry and cattle to Guinea and Senegal.

For Albert, the FACEJ scheme was the boost he needed. The funding made it possible for him to acquire the equipment he needed to set up his business, the training allowed him to further develop his management skills, and the increased monitoring enabled him to continue improving his production and find new solutions to the difficulties he encountered.

"Together with the monitoring agents, we exchange ideas and they put me in contact with resource persons to improve my production."
Albert Dembele 

In the future, Albert aims to obtain an organic farming certification. He currently uses manure from cattle and poultry to fertilise the fields and a solution based on garlic, chilli and ginger to keep insects away. Albert also wants to create an integrated production centre (production, processing and marketing) and organise training for young people in the region.

"Today, for us young entrepreneurs to move forward, we need an entrepreneurial ecosystem. We need to network to share and help each other."