Before venturing into entrepreneurship, Mrs Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly had vast experience in the agro-industrial sector, spanning over ten years. With this experience, she was able to, among other things, identify and carry out an in-depth analysis of the various causes of food shortage in Mali. Armed with this knowledge, she decided to quit her job in 2003 and set up her own company (Faso Kaba Sarl) which specializes in the production and marketing of agricultural seeds for the benefit of small farmers. These improved seeds are of a better quality, and are also highly productive and better yielding for the farmers. With time, Faso Kaba soon became the largest local seed company based in Mali. Its ambition therefore became clear: to reduce poverty and eradicate famine in Mali by enabling small farmers to produce better and more on the cultivated land. To achieve this, the company positioned itself strategically at the bottom of the agricultural value chain, by providing high-yielding seeds to small farmers in Mali. Through her hard work, Mrs Coulibaly was able to build and develop a network of efficient outgrowers. Within a decade, her network grew tenfold, from 40 outgrowers in 2005 to 400 in 2015, and all the members were trained in the production of certified seeds. Thus, she guarantees stable incomes to the outgrowers and their families. Thanks to Mrs Coulibaly, Faso Kaba Sarl was the first private seed company in francophone West Africa to receive funding from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Through her strategic fight for the improvement of food security in Mali and in targeted countries in West Africa (especially the Gambia, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone) she was able to increase her supply of improved seeds by 135% in four years. From 700 tons of seeds sold in 2011, she provided to farmers more than 1600 tons of certified seeds in 2015, while at the same time meeting 40% to 50% of the certified seeds requirements in Mali. In her endeavour to contribute to the fight against unemployment, Mrs Coulibaly today provides employment to over 60 people, 50% of whom are women. She is a keen defender of the principle of equal job opportunities for both genders.
Through Faso Kaba Sarl, Mrs Coulibaly acts as an interface between seed researchers from organisations such as IER and ICRISAT in Mali, small farmers as well as national and international organisations which rely on her company’s seeds to eradicate famine from their environments. In her strategy to make improved seeds available to the largest number of small farmers, Mrs Coulibaly has decided to provide them with packets of between 1 and 20 kg. This enables every farmer to buy the quantities of seeds he or she can afford. Thus, in 2014, she was able to impact the lives of 159,000 people through her wide distribution network (100 points of sale) and her services to organisations and programmes such as the Red Cross, WAAPP (West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme) and Save the Children.
Driven by her ambition to participate in the eradication of famine, she was able to provide services to countries that were threatened by the Ebola virus between 2013 and 2015, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone. Mrs Coulibaly is a living example of the success that women can achieve in private entrepreneurship despite the odds. Thus, on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Women’s Day on 5 March 2016, the United States Ambassador to Mali described her history and work as a women leader in her field in Mali. With devotion and perseverance, Mrs Coulibaly continues to provide improved seeds to the people of Northern Mali, who have been living under the threat of terrorism for a number of years. Her success is also reflected in the achievements of her agro-dealers, including Mrs Mama Diallo, and her farming clients such as Mrs Sirantou Traore.