HAF Program Manager
After three years have passed since the establishment of the women’s cooperative. I witnessed its upbringing. I am here today the 6th of January to visit the cooperative again.
The women’s cooperative, or rather the group of women, was the first group that was visited immediately after starting work with the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program in July 2019, which is implemented by HAF in Morocco. In that meeting, the team discovered the women’s desire to do any activities that help them empower themselves economically and work to earn some money.
Through their desire for economic empowerment, HAF decided to give them an opportunity for self-empowerment as well as economic. Through the workshop that they spent together, the women were able to come up with the idea of establishing an agricultural cooperative, which, after a few months, became a reality.
The cooperative included 13 members and its main activity was producing couscous and Moroccan pastries, in addition to selling medicinal and aromatic herbs found in the region. The cooperative benefited from two F2F assignments in food safety training (conducted by Deneen Walker Rief in Feb 2020) and recordkeeping training (conducted by Basma Okbi in March 2021).
Immediately after the pandemic, the world returned to normal life, but the cooperative found itself in a spiral of financial and other organizational problems through which it was unable to move forward, and what worsened the host situation was the personal problems of the members and the conflicts between others. As a result, some of the members decided to leave the cooperative and stop working with it.
“I no longer have a place among you. My dreams and aspirations started here, but they no longer find a place to grow and enlarge, so my career will stop here to start somewhere else. I may not have been successful as a president, but I found myself and my heart, I can flow with change, thanks to the empowerment journey and F2F program that supported us to know when and where we can make decisions and how we can make it,” said Malika the ex-president of the cooperative.
“All my energy and my patience have been used up negatively, trying to keep silent, and not clarify things is our big mistake, and not move forward. Today, it’s time to clarify where we are now and what is next,” said Mrs. Fadma, a member of the cooperative.
From their discussion, the women understood that they need to test their inner soil, remove all the negative thoughts and re-envision what they understood in 2019 by making a logical decision.
Based on that, the women came to the decision to do a general assembly and remove the members who do not work with the cooperative instead of dissolve it.
“The Al Jamaane Cooperative doesn’t exist anymore for me, but the support, the tools, and the principles that I learned from the training are an added value that helps me to not give up. I promise myself to establish a new cooperative in my town and dedicate all my time to save it,” Malika the ex-president said.
Thinking about concrete impacts was what I wanted to record after the meeting. However, when I heard and saw their strong reactions and the big difference between 2019 and today, I concluded the real impact of the program was personal and that reflected positively on their personalities and their future aspirations.