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A second chance in painting thanks to SWEDD

28 March 2024

SWEDD en action

Mariam Koné was able to set up her own business thanks to the support of the NGO Agir, with funding from the SWEDD project dedicated to learning and empowering girls and women.

Being a woman and a house painter at the age of 28, in the commune of Dialakorodji, is by no means ordinary. Mariam, a divorced mother, is proud of her new skills. She was one of a cohort of 519 people trained in innovative trades under the SWEDD programme in Mali in 2019, with funding of 449 million CFA francs.

The housework she used to do as a housewife is now a thing of the past. My husband was a workman and his income wasn't enough to cover all the household  expenses," she explains. "I felt isolated at home, with no hope or support from my family, being an orphan". 

Her husband's behaviour prompted her to divorce him, and to fight for her future and that of her children.

Having dropped out of school, Mariam Koné responded to a call by SWEDD in 2018 for young girls and women who had left school to benefit from innovative vocational training in the building and public works (BTP) sector. She did so through the NGO Agir, chaired by former First Lady Keïta Aminata Maïga, after being informed and guided by a town hall official who was aware of her situation. 

Of the 519 girls and women selected, 93 chose painting, 153 electricity, 93 plumbing, 27 refrigeration and air conditioning, 120 hairdressing and beauty and 33 cutting and sewing. Her six months of training allowed her to launch her business in 2019, first with daily work, then negotiating contracts for complete buildings.


"I'm happy to tell you today that this support has given me everything. I manage to pay the school fees for my three children, my rent and other expenses".


Far from being singled out because she works in a traditionally male profession, she is encouraged by her community, and often held up as an example by the authorities and the media. She has already trained two young girls to accompany her on building sites, to her great satisfaction.

Mariam Koné, who plans to set up her own business and hire more women, also praises the participatory spirit of the SWEDD project: "It involves all the beneficiary communities, local authorities, women and young people. The best way to combat unemployment and girls dropping out of school is to give them a second chance to succeed in life. Vocational training is the only guarantee of empowerment".


SWEDD en Action


Find out how the SWEDD project is changing lives across sub-Saharan Africa in the book SWEDD in Action: Promoting Women's Full Potential here