There is no magic formula to help the vibrant West African country of Mali shift from its rich cotton-based textiles and leather traditions to global manufacturing. In fact, its barely developed industry may never offer the large-scale infrastructure needed to attract the attention of today's global sourcing managers. But behind the scenes, a small group of committed artisans and designers is working hard to sell Mali's unique cultural attributes as the basis on which to build a new kind of export orientation for the country. B. Lynn Salinger reports.