Investment Hotspot Mali!
On my way to Mali, I picked up the phone and asked the executive assistant of the Azalai Group Headquarter in Bamako for an appointment with Mossadeck Bally. A man well known in the world of business, someone who has featured on the most prestigious business magazines such as Financial Times, Forbes and many others. A man so well respected in his country and on the continent; he could have invented the word respect. Born in Niger to Malian parents he has built a Pan-African success story and is the majority shareholder of the Azalai Group. Shortly after my enquiry I got a phone call from the executive office to confirm our meeting in Bamako. Headquartered in the centre of Bamako I was received in Mr. Bally’s office in the headquarter a few days later. A very down to earth business man, Mr. Bally took the time to help me understand Mali and its current economic climate. A very valid point made by him, is that politics and entrepreneurship are two different pairs of shoes. His chain of hotels has grown and remained in place throughout several military coups. People, that are consumers, still have needs throughout phases of political instability. A visionary and great entrepreneur that he is, he remains positive for the future of Mali. The Azalai Group has been valued at EUR 61 million in 2013, with the group forever expanding and adding more hotels throughout West Africa. Mali has a population of 19,6 Million people with 67% under 25 years. Mali’s and Africa’s population (1.2 billion people) with emerging middle-classes, want to be clothed, taught in schools, enjoy entertainment, surf the internet, shop, drive, travel and many other things in the very near future. 43 million hectares are available for agriculture, 18000 km of roads are still to be build and the number one producer of cotton in Africa is this landlocked country that has that much and more to offer: Mali. Mr. Bally studied in France and the US like so many other Africans, who leave to study abroad. However, he has come back to help develop his country. When no one believed in Africa and Mali in particular; He did! A true entrepreneur that he is, he saw opportunities where no one could even imagine an open window for cash generating opportunities. When you meet him, you will notice the wisdom, the calm and he tells the typical story of the Sahel. His face speaks Sahel, where Sub Sahara Africa meets North Africa. Malians are very earthed and far from the bon vivant and noisy Cemac population with an “enjoy life as if it is your last day” mindset. You immediately feel the calm and reflected approach to life by him and Mali’s population. Looking at foreign investors and their way of investing into Africa; resting on advice from institutions is for sure not the way forward. Institutional investments are in line with government policies and are meant for quotas not turnovers! As an entrepreneur you need to know about the dynamics, the needs, the trends, numbers, economic atmosphere and the opportunities. Entrepreneurship is building and setting up companies, not robotically repeating policy phrases far from the on the ground realities sitting behind a desk in Berlin. Mali is worth every minute and every penny of your investment. With an average growth of 5% and a virgin market the ROI is almost 100% in hard cash but also a reward in developing a country that is beautiful in nature, people and atmosphere.