Mali – Savings and loan groups


Sponsorship area

Development aid

Sponsorship amount

CHF 100,000 per year

Sponsorship term

2010 - 2017



Paths to independence

The Hirschmann-Foundation has launched a development cooperation project in Mali in the Region of Sikasso in collaboration with Swisscontact.

Young people in Mali are being offered the opportunity to set up an income-generating activity and so earn a living for themselves and their families. Particular attention is being paid to graduates of vocational training programmes in the crafts and agricultural sectors.

The project is closely linked to Swisscontact's operations to promote vocational training and local economic development in Mali, which are carried out on behalf of the SDC.

Savings and loan groups

The WASA project of savings and lending groups is based on a model that was developed by Swisscontact in Kenya and has been successfully implemented since 2006. This model enables people and groups who otherwise have little access to financial services to finance their own economic projects.

Between 10 and 30 people at a time join together as a small Wasa group (Wasa means "satisfaction through savings" in the local Bamabara language). This savings and loan group meets regularly to make deposits and withdrawals. Each member saves a fixed small amount every month.

The group grants loans from the amount saved to the participating craftsmen and farmers with fixed interest rates and payback conditions.

Project strengths

Thanks to the WASA savings and microcredit system, thousands of people now have access to savings and loans: 227 WASA groups with 5,231 members (of which 4,096 or 78% are women) have been established since the project started.

As a result, the group members have been in a position to:

  • Build their own income-generating activities
  • Establish permanent employment for themselves and their relatives
  • Pay for school fees, basic health care and clothing on their own

The WASA system

  • Transparency in fund management: decisions are taken unanimously, each member knows the destination of each loan granted;
  • New economic activities: Over 95% of the funds are invested in new business opportunities to get economic activities started;
  • Groups also invest their funds in collective activities: Purchasing agricultural products (seeds, fertilisers, etc.) or investment in grain storage;
  • Emergence of new groups: Group leaders form a second or even third group.

The WASA brochure

A brochure on the project was developed with the support of the Hirschmann Foundation in 2013. It shows how the WASA groups work, as well as their advantages, limitations, and perspectives.

The aim of the brochure is to provide the literate instructors of the WASA groups with a tool that will allow them to form and support new groups independently in the future, even without Swisscontact's help. The brochure is available in French as well as in the local language Bambara.

Download the brochure as a PDF file