All Insights

Out of Difficulties Grow Miracles

byBouchra Zine
onMarch 18, 2024

In April 2023, and at the request of Hassan Belhcen who is the Director of the National Park of Khenifra, a group of women from Merdhal Amane village of the Aguelmem Azegza municipality in the province of Khenifra joined HAF’s Family Literacy Program (funded by the E.U.). They were a group of 30 enthusiastic women whose dream was to be economically active and help their families to live a better life.

In Aguelmam Azegza culture, women are generally expected to suppress their points of view. They have to obey others’ orders and do all the housework. That’s why as the first step to get to know the ladies more and discover their skills and needs, the HAF team facilitated participatory empowerment methods in the Merdhal Amane village to find out the essential priorities and challenges faced by the women. It was also a great chance to encourage them to speak up and share their opinions confidently, the very thing that was previously forbidden. After community planning, and because the women were illiterate, they were then engaged in HAF’s literacy classes to learn some basics of Arabic, counting, and writing to prepare them to eventually start their business.


Women of Merdhal Amane draw their village for the first time (photo by HAF, 2022)

As the literacy classes progressed, the participants applied their new skills to create their own cooperative. The women of Merdhal Amane had confidence in their capabilities but they were afraid to begin the work due to their lack of knowledge about the cooperative’s laws and techniques. This prompted the team to ask for the professional assistance of the ODCO (Office Du Développement et Coopération). Within a week of the initial request, a representative of the ODCO of Meknes City conducted a training to inform the women about the cooperative, its legal context, and how to make it a successful endeavor. The women were very excited to learn more about the inner workings of their future business. They had many questions, demonstrating their motivation and excitement to work hard and improve their situations. They also received much support from Ms Majda Dalal, the Marketing Consultant, who encouraged them in their journey and gave them plenty of information on the marketing techniques that would make their business successful.

In September 2022, it was time for the Women’s Empowerment workshops. Thirty participants benefited from IMAGINE, a four-day workshop focusing on seven key areas: Emotions, Relationships, Money, Work, Body, Sexuality, and Spirituality. This workshop empowers women to voice their opinions, be more assertive, and discover their own wants in life. After the workshop, the women’s vision for their business became clear. They created an agricultural cooperative to make couscous and products based on cereals. However, they decided to study more before starting the work to guarantee success.

Before officially launching their cooperative, the women’s wish was to benefit from technical training by an expert on making couscous. That’s why Ittou Amou, the President of the Yamna cooperative, was a great choice. She welcomed the idea, and with two other members of her cooperative, she joined the team to work with the Merdhal Amane cooperative in producing couscous and some traditional cereal products. The women of Merdhal Amane were happy to be taught by other women who had walked the same path to become one of Morocco’s most successful and famous cooperatives. Thanks to Mr Mohammed Lamane and the women's own determination, they are no longer just a group of beneficiaries; they are legally and officially a cooperative. They named it based on their village to ensure people knew about them and their origins.


Three members of Yamna cooperative and women of Merdhal Amane cooperative producing couscous (photo by HAF, 2023)

To help the women accomplish their dreams, Mohammed sought support from several donor departments and governmental and non-governmental agencies to finance their cooperative. Merdhal Amane received acceptance from the Regional Office of Agriculture of Khenifra and gained support amounting to 350,000 MAD of machinery necessary for their work.

The story of Merdhal Amane confirms that the impossible is just a rumor and that a strong will can make any dream a reality.