Women’s empowerment in an organic products Cooperative in Morocco

8 December 2021

Since 2011, the Moroccan government has created a Ministry of Solidarity for Women, Family and Social Development. Women have a prominent place in the development efforts of the Moroccan authorities. Koulal association and the Mahssoul Tassaout women’s cooperative have joined forces to propose a project to empower women through the development of a local economy in Morocco. The two partners have launched the implementation of an organic wheat processing project, which aims to build a viable economy for women in the Marrakech-Safi region. This agricultural region is wealthy, but lacks the means to develop its activities permanently. 

Interview with Saïd El maouzouni, co-president, Sabry Sanae, social worker of the Koulal association and Loubna Badr-Eddine, president of the “Mahssoul Tassaout” cooperative 

 

– Strengthening the capacities of rural women 

The Massoul Tassaout cooperative started in 2018 in El Attaouia, a commune chosen due to its high poverty rate. The pair of associations joined forces to create a unifying and ambitious project. 

“The first objective is to form two groups of women who will have complementary roles in the management of the cooperative,” explains Saïd El Maouzouni. Sabry Sanae adds, “We want to develop the skills of ten women who will mainly be responsible for processing the wheat, as well as five other women who will be able to manage the administrative, legal and financial aspects. 

Loubna Badr-Eddine from the cooperative explains that this activity is the only work opportunity for some women in the region. “It is the only source of income for the women in the cooperative, as most of them are widows or divorced. Some of them have farms that have been inherited, but they are not able to support themselves. I am one of the five ladies who manage the administration and we are practically the only women who went to school in the commune. 

 

 

– Promoting a sustainable economy 

The second objective is to promote an organic and a sustainable and organic economy. Organic wheat products will be processed and distributed through the cooperative. The associations will promote ethical and responsible consumption, while creating an income-generating activity for these women. As Saïd El Maouzouni explains, “the region is very rich in terms of agriculture: cereals, olives, etc. Olive oil is a good example. The olive oil is much better than the Italian one, but these products have difficulty finding their place on the international market. Today, national institutions are starting to support the marketing of these products internationally.” This initiative aims to take advantage of the ecosystem that is being put in place. 

For Sabry Sanae, this is much more than a simple development project. “It is an initiative that has a lot of qualities and in the long term, it’s a real investment!” 

“It is a sustainable and viable economy. Fifteen women will benefit directly, but there will also be many indirect benefits. In total, we estimate that between 400 and 500 people (families, transporters, deliverers, vendors, etc.) will be indirectly impacted,” explains Saïd El Maouzouni.  

 

– The added value of working with the diaspora

Given the cooperative’s multiple activities, the association has considerable human, financial and material needs. Koulal is very much involved in training. “In the cooperative’s programme, we organise literacy courses and seminars. From time to time, we organise visits to cooperatives to learn and share our knowledge in the Tassaout region. We need to work with associations like Koulal to conduct these courses,” Loubna Badr-Eddine shares.

For Saïd, exploiting local resources goes hand in hand with the independence of the locals: “The main thing is to support people who want to stay in their country of origin and find activities that help them to support themselves. This ambitious project proposes concrete solutions to relieve the unstable financial situation of the region’s inhabitants. 

 

– About the partner associations

In France, Koulal supports precarious people through professional reintegration. It also runs international solidarity projects. Mahssoul Tassaout is a Moroccan association for lifelong learning that promotes access to culture and fights against illiteracy.

 

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