Moroccan Argan oil and social change for women

Argan Oil: A Moroccan Craft
Argan Oil: A Moroccan Craft

My fourth annual visit to the women coop in Arazane

In late September, I traveled to Morocco to visit the Tirizite cooperative in Arazane for the fourth time in as many years. In addition to my support of the New York Women’s Foundation and of Turning Point for Women and Families, I try to help the cooperative Tirizite as much as I can as part of the KENZA International Beauty socially responsible mission.

My fourth annual visit to the women coop in Arazane
My fourth annual visit to the women coop in Arazane

After an 8hr bus ride from Casablanca to Agadir and another 2hr car drive, I arrived to Arazane. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot of Latifa’s house, I could hear the women singing a welcoming song in their Berber language. It brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart.

Every year the coop makes some progress. Latifa, the coop Director, informed me the coop has joined a union of cooperative in the Taroudant area (this will allow it to pool some resources, to share best practices, and to have a stronger market presence); has been certified NormaCert which guarantees the Argan oil origin and quality; successfully underwent an inspection by the Moroccan department of Health; and it will be showcased in a fair in Germany representing Moroccan products. These are all great news, but have expenses attached.

Cooperative Tirizite Arazane Morocco

On the other hand, new challenges always arise. I also learned the women had not been working for some time because the coop had run out of Argan nuts and it could not afford to buy anymore. Therefore, this year KENZA International Beauty donated the coop a lump sum to buy about 3,000 lb. of Argan nuts and to cover other expenses. This aid helps the coop provide jobs for the women so that they can be more productive and financially independent.

Argan oil Social change

My assistant and I spent the day with the women to learn more about their work and responsibilities at the cooperative. Here are two videos that we hope you will enjoy and see how the Argan oil process is not as easy as it seems. We value the hard work of all the women working in cooperatives in Morocco producing many products that we all love.

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A Social Enterprise shares the generous beauty of Argan oil

A Social Enterprise supports an Argan oil women cooperative in Morocco
A Social Enterprise supports an Argan oil women cooperative in Morocco

In October, I returned to Arazane, Morocco for the annual contribution that KENZA International Beauty makes to the Tirizite women cooperative that produces the KENZA Pure Argan oil. Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMwtGwkFLRc

Upon arrival, I found out the coop had run out of Argan nuts and unable to produce Argan oil for the last two weeks, that the price of Argan nuts had doubled because of a recent drought, and that the coop had an outstanding bill from its last purchase of Argan nuts during the summer. Although the supplier had delivered the previous Argan nuts order on credit, he now needed to be paid in full before delivering any more Argan nuts.

Meeting with the Argan nuts supplier.
Meeting with the Argan nuts supplier.

With the Argan nuts supplier
With the Argan nuts supplier
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This is when I decided that paying the coop outstanding debt and the cost of the new Argan nut order was a better way for my social enterprise to help the women cooperative rather than just distributing cash to them. This way, the coop was able to purchase 4,464 lbs. of Argan nuts that the women will use to produce about 18 gallons of pure Argan oil (both the edible and the cosmetic kind) and be debt free.

I was also pleasantly surprised by a few other developments at the coop:

– A very nice playground was built for the children community of Arazane on the coop grounds by “1040i for Humanity”, an American non-profit organization from Oklahoma. This playground is a wonderful facility for the local community as it is rare to see playing areas designated for children in Morocco.(Read more here)

– The women coop has a new building with reception area, shop, office, production lab, classroom, and a working room where the women crack the Argan nuts.

– The women coop has expanded its product line to include whole wheat and semolina couscous, exfoliating masks made out of Argan kernels, black soap with orange blossoms essential oil, and other beauty products.

New building for the cooperative
New building for the cooperative
New building for the cooperative
New building for the cooperative

New products at the cooperative
New products at the cooperative
Women classroom at the cooperative
Women classroom at the cooperative

Something that is in great need at the coop is an on-site day care for the pre-school children of the coop women. The daycare would allow these children to play, learn, and socialize with other kids instead of spending their day watching their moms crack the Argan nuts. I will focus on this project next with the help of all my “beautiful friends”.

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Read my story in The Guardian Newspaper