Support for Business Creation by Young People

Mali faces several major challenges related to youth employment. These are: (i) the rapid increase in the working-age population and the difficulties of finding jobs to young people, (ii) the important place taken by informal jobs, (iii) the low proportion of formal jobs in the private and public sectors, (iv) the low human capital accumulation, (v) the strong gender inequalities reflecting the differences in employment access between men and women in terms of occupation rates that are not in favor of women, (vi) the post-conflict situation in which the country has been since the outbreak of the security crisis in 2012, and (vii) the migratory challenge in relation with the employment problem.

Difficulties accessing funding for startups and SMEs are a particular obstacle to investment. SMEs are struggling to meet the financial and non-financial conditions laid down by financial institutions, but there is also a continuing mistrust of financial institutions to take more risk in Mali by providing credit to SMEs. This situation is even more pronounced for young people starting their businesses.

The project's vision is therefore to promote entrepreneurship as an alternative to youth unemployment and to give young people excluded from conventional financial services a chance to take up business. This vision also considers the proven correlation between juvenile delinquency and poor access to financial resources for young people.

Bamako, Mali
Project duration
2019 - 2023
Financed by
  • Royal Embassy of Denmark

The project

Entrepreneurship can reduce youth unemployment and produce satisfactory socio-economic outcomes. But there are obstacles for young people who want to start and develop a business. In this context, the development of an environment conducive to the entrepreneurship of young Malians leaving vocational and technical training centers and the like is an urgent need.

The project targets 18 to 35-year-olds coming out of technical and vocational training centers, with the ambition of launching business projects that value innovations. The project also targets young entrepreneurs (18 to 35 years old) already in business and with a potential for business growth. The overall target is that 40% of supported entrepreneurs are women.

The project support is translated into the following key activities:

  • Selection of young entrepreneurs;
  • Youth Entrepreneurship Training;
  • Support for the refining and deepening of the business plans of the selected young people;
  • Financing young entrepreneurs: The FACEJ fund will integrate two windows:
    • The "start-up" window will finance a seed Grant for young entrepreneurs and their accompaniment ;
    • The "growing company" window will finance a development grant for young entrepreneurs and their support in the development process of the company.
  • Follow-up after funding

FACEJ will also support the sharing of experiences and networking of young entrepreneurs.
The purpose of this commitment is to support young graduates from a technical, vocational or higher education institution to start their business in their desired industry. The main expected effects are (i) the creation of businesses by trained young people is facilitated by the support and funding mechanism, (ii) the companies created by young people are economically viable.

Expected results:

  • creation of 1,100 companies (start ups) by young people
  • Supporting the development of 330 SMEs


Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Women’s entrepreneurship: an important driver of emancipation
Mali faces great challenges: the rapid increase of the working-age population, the large gender disparities that place women at a disadvantage, and the effects of the political and security crisis, to name but a few. Through the FACEJ project, Swisscontact is helping young women and men to establish and/or expand their companies.
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Women Entrepreneurship – an important vector of emancipation for women
One of FACEJ's major objectives is to accompany at least 40% of young women entrepreneurs in the creation or development of their business. 
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
FACEJ SUGU – Mali Young entrepreneurs trade
Supporting youth entrepreneurship in Mali is now a priority for the government of Mali and its technical and financial partners. The promotion of youth entrepreneurship, based on the dynamism and creativity of Malian youth, represents a tangible opportunity in terms of professional integration, job creation, and reduction of unemployment; it also generates nationwide socio-economic results.