April 7, 2014

SPARK IGNITE: Closing Ceremony Summer University in Ségou

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By Ruud van Soelen

Saturday 29th of March, the “Forum de Ségou”, the closing ceremony of the course on entrepreneurship was held in Ségou. The music group “Super Biton” welcomed the participants and the guests when they were settling down in the audience. The whole Board of the University of Ségou was present as well as various directors of the largest private enterprises in Ségou, the governor, the mayor of Ségou and numerous representatives of NGOs and the donor community.

The following are the outcomes of the project: A total of 177 participants completed the course. The group consisted of 107 students from the University, 30 Internally Displaced Persons and 40 unemployed graduates. 62 business plans were written. Top ten business plans were chosen and the winners have been guaranteed a business coach and a loan by SPARK to set up their business. The top 10 consisted of 4 students, 3 IDPs and 3 unemployed graduates. Out of the 10 winners, there were 4 women and 6 men. The business plans were mainly in the field of agriculture, food processing and livestock. The 10 participants with a winning plan presented their idea in front of the audience.

The cooperation with the University was loudly applauded by the attendees. Since the conflict broke out two years ago, the CEEUS2014-project is one of the first projects with concrete results that suit the demand in Mali as a whole and specifically in Segou.The cooperation between SPARK and the University showed that good results can be attained and that there is a huge demand for self-employment among youth. Other partners in the cooperation are the COREN (Collectif des Ressortissants du Nord du Mali), the ANPE (Agence National pour Promotion d’Emploi) and the Developpement Sociale.

In the next phase we will try to establish a Centre d’Appui aus Entreprises (Business Support Center) to assist the new entrepreneurs in their first steps toward entrepreneurship. It also envisions to assist the 52 other future entrepreneurs in ameliorating their business plan. The center further assists in developing specific business skills trainings, facilitate access to finance, implement market studies, assisting in writing a business plan and to further strengthen value chains. The center in Ségou will develop special trajectories for women and aims for reconciliation between the North and South of Mali. This is achieved by stimulating trade and entrepreneurship among youth and work towards the establishment and connecting these centers throughout Mali.

* Ruud van Soelen is the Country Manager for SPARK Mali.

SPARK IGNITE is SPARK’s blog of stories, updates and opinions by SPARK staff, on relevant topics in the news, stories from the fields, and what inspire us to do what we do.  We welcome external contributions; to contribute please contact media[at]