Malick began his entrepreneurial journey by importing cell phones from Canada and the United States and selling them in Mali. The business is profitable but during a trip to Côte d’Ivoire, Malick discovered a new opportunity in the food production sector. He therefore decided to focus his business on importing papayas, plantains and avocados from Côte d'Ivoire to Mali. He gradually became aware of the profitability and potentialities of an agro-food production in Mali.
In possession of five hectares of land with limited access to water and no electricity, Malick launched his new activity with a few stems of papaya-trees and three fishponds supplied with water from a small well and a generator. The first attempt failed to yield the expected results; Malick noticed the low profitability of his activity: his generator costs him more than 20 000 F CFA (33 CHF) in gasoline per week and he cannot meet the demand for fruit and fish. He then got in touch with the FACEJ project, which directed him to one of its partners, the non-governmental organisation ADG.
After a careful elaboration of his business plan and validation by the FACEJ Selection Committee, Malick obtained a bank loan of 13,899,495 F CFA (22,423 CHF). This financing allowed him to invest. He dug a new borehole, acquired twelve solar panels to ensure his autonomy in electricity, and built a water reserve to facilitate the watering of his various crops and plantations. He also installed two new fishponds. His investment plan will create six new jobs: four permanent and two seasonal jobs.
"Yolis" is currently operating on five hectares of land in the agri-food sector with three main components: arboriculture (production of 1,900 feet of papaya), a diversified market gardening (production of corn, cucumber, okra and pepper), and fish farming. Diversification of production is not without interest. Inspired by the "Zero Waste" movement, "Yolis" is based on a choice of agricultural production in which waste is used for soil enrichment (crop rotation, compost) and fish feed. Not only does this system allow Malick to optimise his production costs, it also allows him to have a real positive impact on the soil and the environment.
According to Malick, the support and guidance provided by the FACEJ team is central to the development of "Yolis":
“FACEJ monitors my progress and gives me advice to constantly improve the quality of my production. So a big Thank You to FACEJ!”
Throughout the process, Malick felt accompanied and supported, allowing him to better understand the process of entering into a relationship with a bank as well as the stages for credit application. Periodic visits by FACEJ teams and partners also create an environment of trust in which Malick feels free to ask for advice to overcome any difficulties encountered.
In the near future, "Yolis" plans to mechanise irrigation, and to produce more chilli pepper and then transform it into sauces and condiments. The long-term objective of his project remains the industrialised processing of one of his products.
The FACEJ project (Le Fonds d'Appui à la Création d'entreprise par les Jeunes) in Mali is financed by the Royal Embassy of Denmark and implemented by Swisscontact in partnership with PlanBørnefonden. The project's objective is to support young people between 18 and 35 years of age coming out of technical, professional or higher education in the creation or development of their business.