Mali Entrepreneurs Offer Path to Peace
Thursday, March 14, 2013
The day French fighters started bombing Mali in January, I was on edge. Root Capital’s regional credit manager based in Dakar, Diaka Sall, was visiting clients in Mali that very day the French stepped in to stop the Northern rebels’ southward march toward the capital city.
“Don’t worry,” she told us, “I’m two hours south of Bamako where Mali hasn’t closed a single day for business despite all the craziness up north. It’s a huge country, and everyone here knows they’re much better off trading than fighting.”
By “everyone” Diaka meant the roughly 2,000 formerly unemployed village youth who, not long ago, might have been prime recruits for Islamic groups like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb. They inhabit the harsh drylands of West Africa, famous for extreme poverty, drought and food insecurity.