When Cooperative Chorouk was first founded in 2009, it started off with 26 members. Over time, the number of members of the cooperative slowly began to decline due to a lack of sales. When Cooperative Chorouk was first joined Anou in late 2012, the cooperative was down to just seven members.
Yesterday, Cooperative Chorouk excitingly announced on Anou’s Instagram account (read our blog post about Anou’s Instagram account on our blog) that for the first time in their five year history they started to bring more women into their cooperative — twelve women to be exact! Rabha Akkaoui, the cooperative’s president, said that the coop made the decision to add more active members in order to keep up with their increased sales and income via Anou.
Stories like this becoming more common within the Anou community. By becoming an Anou artisan leader, Rabha has traveled across Morocco teaching cooperatives and learning from them and invested what she learned into her own cooperative. As a result, the entire cooperative has improved its photography, pricing, product development and even how it delegates tasks. The cooperative used these skills to increase sales on their own, rather than expecting someone else to do it for them, and now they’re creating jobs in small village.
There is an immense amount of potential to create more jobs in the wider Anou community. We recently completed Anou’s first census, where we structured the census to reflect both active members (those who actively work with the group at least three times a week) and inactive members (those who were once a part of the cooperative, but no longer have work because a lack of sales). The number of active artisans in Anou’s community currently stands at 391 artisans, but if you include inactive members the number shoots up to 883 artisans. In short, if the Anou community increases its sales, the community size and number of jobs could pretty much double overnight.
While still anecdotal, this story shows the immense power of creating an ecosystem that is powered by artisans themselves. When skills are developed and kept within the artisan community, sales and jobs will follow. And with enough time, such stories will no longer by anecdotal.