The Malian agri-food sector offers enormous opportunities, particularly the sub-sector of vegetables and that of culinary aids which are in strong growth. This is explained by the expansion of the middle class coupled with an improvement in the nutritional habits of the population; people are increasingly opting for healthy food.

My name is Nabou, I’m 29 years old, I’m married and have an 8-month-old boy and I have a housekeeper called Maya.

With Maya, we make our market every week and prepare herbal marinades that we put in the freezer. Every time I have to cook I have enough to marinate, season and accompany my preparations. That’s how I came up with the idea of ​​making marinades and ready-made sauces to make life easier for busy women and moms, like me, who are running out of time.

This is an opportunity for me to value products from local agriculture and prove that we can develop products as interesting as Western products with our local recipes.

I also want to pay tribute to my cook Maya, who has not had the chance to go to school, but who is overflowing with ingenuity and good will and also to all those “Maya” who are in our homes and without which our projects could not see the day.

The Malian agri-food sector offers enormous opportunities, particularly the sub-sector of vegetables and that of culinary aids which are in strong growth. This is explained by the expansion of the middle class coupled with an improvement in the nutritional habits of the population; people are increasingly opting for healthy food.

However, as current agri-food processing systems remain largely traditional, the growth of the sector benefits imports more than local products. There is 35% growth in 5 years in the import of vegetables and the market for spices, sauces, preserves and culinary aids represents more than 200 million euros per year; most of these products are imported from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

It is this observation, combined with the significant postharvest losses suffered by market gardeners, led Seynabou Dieng to start producing sauces and cooking aids made from local vegetables and herbs.

In late 2016, Seynabou Dieng, a 31-year-old marketing and strategy graduate, created Maya to prove to herself and her entourage that sauces and seasonings could be made with vegetables and herbs. rather than systematically using cube broths and other manufactured products. So she began to prepare marinades in her kitchen with the help of Maya, her cook at the time. After the marinades, Seynabou realized that many saleswomen threw their vegetables at the end of the day because they had no way to keep them. She started making canned chilli and tomato by forming partnerships with market gardeners in the peri-urban area of Bamako.

Today, 2 years after its creation Maya is a Malian company specialized in the manufacture of sauces, marinades and vinaigrettes made with market garden products. Its mission is to develop and commercialize innovative culinary aids, healthy and connected to the agricultural world to convey a new form of “responsible” consumption. Maya symbolizes the ingenuity of the modern African woman, curious and committed to an approach of inclusive and eco-responsible consumption. The company has processed 30 tons of vegetables in 2018 and has set a goal to transform 55 tons in 2019 through this crowdfunding campaign.

The funds collected will be used to finance: – A sauces cooking machine with a capacity of 200 liters – A solar dryer – A delivery vehicle – A training for its employees – The standardization of the production site in order to be able to export to the international.

The social impact generated by Maya is quite broad and includes among others: – Employability of women and youth: Maya has created 10 permanent jobs and 5 seasonal jobs in 2 years of activity. Of the 10 employees 9 are women and 8 are under 30 years old.

Creating opportunities for the rural world: Agricultural raw materials used in Maya production allow farmers to earn additional income and reduce post-harvest losses.
Environmental protection: Maya has teamed up with a Malian startup to optimize the life cycle of its glass canisters. Indeed, the startup collects Maya jars, processes them and resells them at Maya at a preferential price. As the glass is 100% recyclable, it drastically reduces the ecological footprint of Maya’s activity and prevents glass imports. Today 30% of the glass jars used by Maya are recycled.
The promotion of local entrepreneurship and the fight against immigration: in a context where 20% of young people are unemployed, many of these unemployed young people plan to immigrate to Europe at the risk of their lives. Initiatives like Maya allow these young people to see that entrepreneurship is also an option. It is all the more inspiring for them that Seynabou herself studied in Europe and decided to return to Mali to start her business. She works with youth associations and offers them some of her time to motivate and coach them to succeed in their entrepreneurial projects.

Since its creation, the Maya company has been financed by the founder’s own funds and the love-money of her family. Indeed, at the beginning of Maya, Seynabou was an employee in an NGO; she made the choice to invest in her business to grow it. This allowed for a considerable increase in demand and the number of employees doubled. Only with the increase in demand, Maya now needs a larger working capital, new machines, a delivery vehicle but also training for its employees to improve the quality of products and be able to export in the sub-region. All this requires financing.

In Mali, most banks are deposit banks and they finance very little agribusiness because it is considered a risky sector. Moreover, the interest rates of the loan are around 12% and the bank asks for a guarantee (a land title). In a social context where women do not have access to land, Seynabou has not been able to access bank financing because even if her business is running, she has no guarantee and the rates are much too high to hope for. make a profit.

In addition, the investment funds that operate in Mali, are interested in larger projects, which require funding in the order of 1 million euros. This is an option that will certainly be interesting for Maya in the near future but not now. Thus, crowfunding remains a good financing tool to allow Maya to increase its production capacity, improve the quality of its products and ensure job security for its employees.

Contributing to the financing of Maya is to contribute to the success of an initiative that in the long run will enable many young people to get started and believe that we can succeed in entrepreneurship in Mali. Undertaking in Africa especially in a context of crisis like in Mali is not obvious but it certainly makes more sense than to risk one’s life crossing the Mediterranean or to finish without paper in a European capital. If Maya succeeds, it is several young people who could feel pushing their wings and try entrepreneurship to illegal immigration.

Contributing to the financing of Maya is to allow an African SME to offer quality African products to the rest of the world and thus change this image of Africa that produces nothing. It’s so obvious to find a box of European sardines in our supermarkets, what are the chances of a confit of Malian tomatoes arriving at Carrefour? Very small. Why ? Very often because financing is a problem in Africa … because African initiatives are less supported, less encouraged. Because African entrepreneurs simply lack money.

Contributing to the financing of Maya, is to allow Abdoulaye the maker of recycled cardboard Maya, Amy & Nana salespeople, Sokona, Nathalie, Perpe, Kankou, Tenin and others to have the security of the job and feel proud to help advance a small Malian company. It is also to allow the market gardeners of Baguineda, Sikasso and Farako to continue to grow while being sure that their crops will have outlets and will not be thrown into the Niger River.

Contributing to Maya is finally allowing Seynabou Dieng, who left a career and salary to invest in entrepreneurship in Africa, to continue his fight for the development of his country.

Maya’s team is made up of very dynamic young people. Most of Maya’s employees have arrived for an internship and are now full members of the team. Seynabou tries to convey a strong corporate culture and encourages employees to be agents of change themselves. It teaches them values such as resilience, self-improvement, flexibility and autonomy. They are the greatest strength of Maya.

  • Sokona aka Kadiatou Doumbia – Accounting Manager
  • Perpetue Somboro – Purchasing and Inventory Management Officer
  • Kankou Ballo – Production Manager
  • Nathalie Yanou – Shop Manager
  • Tenin Koumare – Production Agent
  • Natenin Koumare – Production Agent
  • Mariame Maiga – Production Agent
  • Sidiki Coulibaly – Commercial deliveryman
  • Seynabou Dieng Traoré – Manager

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About The Author

CEO AfrikaTech

Comme beaucoup de personnes j’ai connu l’Afrique à travers des stéréotypes : l’Afrique est pauvre, il y a la guerre, famine… Je suis devenu entrepreneur pour briser ces clichés et participer à la construction du continent. J’ai lancé plusieurs entreprises dont Kareea (Formation et développement web), Tutorys (Plate-forme de e-learning), AfrikanFunding (Plate-forme de crowdfunding). Après un échec sur ma startup Tutorys, à cause d’une mauvaise exécution Business, un manque de réseau, pas de mentor, je suis parti 6 mois en immersion dans l’écosystème Tech au Sénégal. J’ai rencontré de nombreux entrepreneurs passionnés, talentueux et déterminés. A mon retour sur Paris je décide de raconter leur histoire en créant le média AfrikaTech. L'objectif est de soutenir les entrepreneurs qui se battent quotidiennement en Afrique en leur offrant la visibilité, les connaissances, le réseautage et les capitaux nécessaires pour réussir. L'Afrique de demain se construit aujourd'hui ensemble. Rejoignez-nous ! LinkedIn:

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