Following independence, the government initiated an extensive program for the organization of rural cooperatives in the villages, with central purchasing organizations in the chief towns of the administrative districts. However, Mali's post-independence socialism has recently given way to emphasis on free trade and private enterprise. Agriculture is the basis of the economy with about 70% of the population employed in farming.
Since 1988, the government has been working on economic reforms that include a large scale privatization process and legal changes to encourage domestic commerce. For instance, business applications can generally be processed through a single ministry, a program which is called guichet unique, or "one window." This reform allows businesses to open sooner and with far less red tape than before. The government has also eliminated price controls on consumer goods and developed both a commerce code and commercial courts to encourage fair business development.
Normal business hours are from 8 AM to noon and from 3 to 5 PM , Monday–Saturday. On Fridays, most businesses close at noon. Banks are open from 8 AM to 2:30 PM , Monday–Thursday, and from 8 AM to 12:30 PM , Friday and Saturday.