"I doubled my weekly production with the entrepreneurial skills I learned"
The lack of meaningful youth employment opportunities in Mali can be attributed to several factors, including the lack of demand, the mismatch between initial training and labour market needs, and insufficient entrepreneurship. The EJOM project addresses several of these factors to create meaningful employment opportunities. We talked to participants who have been able to transform their business with training and support from the EJOM project. Here is the story of Mariam.
"I am Mariam Samounou Aminata, married and mother of three children. I work in the agri-food sector. Two years ago I started a small business, but I was not able to grow it. Cakes were the only product I made. I would use about 20 kg of flour per week."
The EJOM project training, taught me several valuable lessons. The marketing skills training, showed me that I have to create products that better align with customers needs, vary my offering and I have go to where the customers are. Hence I started producing other items such as popcorn, cream, merveilles [red: local fritters] and dégué [red: a West African dessert]. A week after the training I used 50 kilos of flour.
Mariam puts popcorn in bags to sell.
Mariam, assistent, puts sugar and milk powder on fritters. Amina bags them
Now, I am an entrepreneur. I am constantly looking for new recipes on the internet to improve the quality of my products. Also, before I followed the training, I only sold retail: selling directly to customers who would come to my place. After the training, I started selling wholesale. I sell my cakes to local shops. With the starter the kit, I bought basic necessities and equipment, that allowed me to grow my production. With the increased production, I even managed to create jobs in my company: I hired an assistant with a monthly salary. Sometimes, I hire day workers when I receive large orders.
I have several reasons to be satisfied today, the greatest of which is the fact that I have gained financial autonomy. I earn about 100,000 FCFA (€150) per month after expenses. This gives me inner peace. I’m able to contribute to the expenses of my household and give money to my parents. And finally, my customers appreciate the quality of my products.