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Première Agence de Microfinance Mali (PAMF-M) was established in 2005 in the Mopti region following an initiative by the Malian government to develop the microfinance industry in the country. The sector is now dominated by several large MFIs: the largest five, Nyesigiso, Kafo Jiginew, CAMEC, CAECE and Kondo Jigima, account for about 60 percent of clients, almost 75 percent of deposits and more than 50 percent of credits. The commercial banking sector is relatively well equipped with 14 institutions, concentrated in the urban areas and the better-developed southern region. PAMF-M ranks thirteenth place, given its limited geographical position currently in the Mopti region, one of the poorest in the country.

Mali is a low-income, landlocked country with 16 million inhabitants. Despite government and international efforts, political conflict and insecurity has plunged more than 40 percent of the 15 million-strong-population into poverty. The economy depends heavily on gold mining and agricultural exports, although periodic droughts due to short rainy seasons pose a significant threat to the agriculture sector. AKDN’s activities in Mali date back to 2003. Activities encompass cultural restoration and social development projects in Bamako, Mopti, Timbuktu and Djenné, as well as economic development projects that range from investments in aviation infrastructure to water, electricity and packaging for agricultural products.

The Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) Mali, provides micro loans which have allowed women to improve their standard of living. Women accounted for 40 percent of borrowers at the end of the year 2010.
AKDN/Lucas Cuervo Moura

PAMF-M operates two branches and two Points of Operations in Mopti, Koro, Djénné and Sévaré. While half its portfolio is in rural areas, it has diversified by expanding to urban areas and offers a wide range of products, including credit and savings products, tailored to meet the needs of farmers, artisans and traders. Empowering women is also an objective: currently PAM’s female borrowers and depositors reach almost 50 percent, with the expectation that this will exceed half the portfolio in 2016. Since 2008, AKF has been implementing the Mopti Coordinated Area Development Programme. The programme combines interventions in health, education, rural development, financial services and civil society strengthening to improve the quality of life for beneficiaries in the Mopti Region. Through a US Department of Agriculture-supported project, PAMF-M is coordinating its efforts with AKF’s rural development programmes to enhance agricultural productivity and the quality of life of local residents. This includes an initiative in the rice sector, which offers loans for inventory credit and agricultural equipment, and makes savings services available. To support the needs of customers in both rural and urban areas, PAMF-M offers also group lending methodologies to finance agriculture, small trade, micro-enterprises and livestock. These group loans have been especially popular in rural areas, where most credit is disbursed to agricultural equipment investments. Based on other granaries projects led by AKAM, PAMF-M has developed and is testing a Grain Storage product alongside a pilot “credit-savings groups” programme in Mopti.  A demand and feasibility study is underway to introduce mobile banking as part of the move towards providing digital financial services by 2017 in commercial areas, and discussions are taking place to partner with telecoms operators.