Start-Ups for Craftsmen and Farmers in Mali / Africa

A Development Cooperation Pilot Project

The Road to Self-Employment

The Hirschmann Foundation, together with Swisscontact, has launched a development cooperation project in Mali's Sikasso region.

Proactive small business in Mali who are qualified craftsmen or farmers are given the opportunity to make a living for themselves and their families by establishing a small business.

The project is based on the long-existant Swiss vocational education and training programs, which are supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Swisscontact in the Sikasso region.

Mavuno Savings and Credit Group

Core of the project is the establishment of local cooperative-like savings and credit organizations, similar to those successfully implemented in Kenya. The organizations bank on individual responsibility and self-help, as well as on collaboration.

Every small Mavuno group consists of 10 to 30 members (Mavuno means harvest in Swahili). These savings and credit groups gather on a regular basis for incoming and outgoing payments. Every member saves a small fixed amount weekly. Credits with fixed rates of interest and redemption conditions are given to the members from the saved sum.

Important Stages

  • Member recruitment
  • Group buildung and management
  • Processing of saving deposits and granting of credits
  • Establishment of statutes
  • Accounting and audit
  • Introduction to business management


The establishment of savings and credit groups is conducted by Swisscontact. The Hirschmann Foundation has committed itself with a yearly fund of CHF 100'000 for a eight-year period (2010 to 2017).