Première Agence de Microfinance Mali (PAMF-M) was established in 2005 in the Mopti region in line with an initiative by the Malian government to develop the microfinance industry in the country. Though the country is served by 14 banks, their network and activities are primarily concentrated in urban areas and the microfinance sector is used, particularly in rural areas, by about 1 million clients. There are 126 licensed MFIs in the country but the sector has been in crisis for the past few years and several institutions are technically bankrupt or need to be strengthened. Over this period much of the population has lost confidence in the sector and the overall operating environment is challenging, exacerbated by ongoing political and security crisis.
Mali is a low-income, landlocked country with nearly 18 million inhabitants. Despite government and international efforts, political conflict and insecurity has plunged more than 40 percent of the population into poverty. The economy depends heavily on gold mining and agricultural exports, and is highly vulnerable to drought and fluctuations in global prices of gold and cotton.
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 water and electricity to packaging for agricultural products.
PAMF-M operates three branches and two Points of Sale in Mopti, Koro, Sikasso, Djénné and Sévaré. While nearly half its borrowers are in rural areas, it is diversifying 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 and currently almost 50 percent of PAMF’s clients are female. PAMF-M offers also group loans to finance agriculture, small trade, micro-enterprises and livestock. These group loans have been especially popular in rural areas, where most credit is used for agricultural production and livestock.
Since 2008, the Aga Khan Foundation (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. PAMF offers loans for inventory credit and agricultural equipment and provides access to savings services.
Based on other granaries projects led by AKAM, PAMF-M has developed and is testing a Grain Storage product in Mopti. PAMF-M is also preparing to launch mobile banking in collaboration with a telecoms partner, as part of a move towards providing digital financial services.