Momou Dembélé, 30, is a qualified electrician. Married with two children, she left her hometown of Kimparana, where she trained, for Ségou in central Mali.
With her husband's support, she landed her first job with Moulin Moderne du Mali (Modern Mill of Mali, or 'M3'), which produces wheat flour and pasta products.
« "M3 was a real opportunity for me. What I like the most about my work is the time it gives me to take care of my family. I am fulfilled and I can help my children with their studies. It is like a dream come true for every trained woman electrician and for all Malians," said a delighted Momou.
Her colleague Korotimi Bomba, an electro-mechanical technician in the same firm is also proud of the opportunity that M3 offered her. "At electrical engineering school, I studied wiring and equipment troubleshooting. M3 needed staff in this field and gave me a chance, which I seized," she said. "My daily life is all about my job. It has made me financially independent, and I am now studying to progress at M3."
There is a real need to create jobs in Mali, especially for young people in rural areas. Imported food products are sometimes unaffordable, resulting in periodic general food insecurity. Moulin Moderne du Mali is, therefore, an initiative to ensure food sufficiency and contribute to the local economy.
M3 received $16 million from the African Development Bank in 2014 to expand its operations. With this loan, the company built seven production lines and significantly increased capacity.
This support enabled M3 to build seven production lines installed in Ségou that reach an annual production capacity of 27,000 tons of pasta, 7,200 tons of wheat, millet and maize couscous and 55,000 tons of flour. The residues of the production will be recycled in the form of livestock feed production (about 84,000 tons per year).
The firm's CEO, Dramane Tassembedo Dramane, said the Bank's support has helped to create jobs, especially for the youth.
"M3 was created to meet the food needs of the population. Our success has been to ensure food self-sufficiency in Mali," said Dramane. "Without the African Development Bank, this project would never have got off the ground. It has created 400 direct and 100 indirect jobs. We are working to improve youth employment and to enable young people to succeed in Africa."
Hamidou Fane, 32, is a baker who receives flour from M3. "We have many regular customers. Nearly everyone living in Ségou is our client. The opening of the M3 mill, has allowed us to buy flour at a good price and bake bread for sale at affordable price," he said.
In Ségou and the surrounding villages, a loaf of baguette costs 100 CFA francs. "It hadn't been like that around here before. A baguette used to cost 150 CFA. Today, most Malians can afford bread because we make it right here. I spend my days at work; I make my bread and I sell it to the people, and that's what I love most," Hamidou added.