The Artisan Community Just Bought a Building!

Artisan leaders, Anou volunteers, and Moon (the cat) on the ground floor of the four story building we just acquired.

In the beginning of 2020, Cafe Clock, one of the most famous restaurants in Morocco, donated some space in their new experiential shopping center to The Anou Cooperative. Their space was a beautiful traditional riad that shares walls with the Cafe Clock restaurant in Fez. 

Today, it is with incredibly deep gratitude for Cafe Clock and a constellation of many private Anou donors from around the world that we’re excited to announce The Anou Cooperative has acquired the entire riad from Cafe Clock. 

When we launched the Anou Cooperative many years ago, our vision was to restructure Morocco’s craft economy so that it works for artisans rather than against them. The acquisition of one of the most valuable retail properties in Fez is one of many more steps to come that embody our cooperative’s vision. 

The ancient medinas of Morocco were built with artisan hands and used to be home to countless artisans. Over the past several decades those artisans were replaced by middlemen, many of whom used their prized locations to exploit artisans. 

We believe that having an artisan community run and owned cooperative outright purchase such a beautiful building sends an important signal and pushes back against the status quo that too many have become comfortable with. Ultimately, The Anou Cooperative’s purchase will ensure that genuine artisans from across Morocco have a rent-free forever home where they can learn, design, work, and grow their businesses — all in the center of one of Morocco’s cultural and economic capitals.

With purchasing the four-story building we now have quite a bit more work on top of the remaining store construction before we can officially open. While we can’t share too much about what is in store for the future, what we can share is that we’ll be redesigning the riad to support studios and training centers that will be accessible to all Anou artisans for free, particularly artisans in Fez. Equally exciting, we’ll be working with Rebecca Hoyes, a professor at Central Saint Martins to create Morocco’s premiere artist residency program to ensure the world’s best creative talent always pulses through our space and the wider Moroccan artisan community. Follow us on Instagram to keep up to date as we announce these developments in the near future. 

This dream would never have been possible without our donors and supporters. To every donor that made this happen, what more is there to say,  we literally bought a building. And equally, if not more important, we owe a huge thank you to anyone who ever purchased from Anou. There are many places where you can buy Moroccan craft, the best of which an artisan earns may earn a little more than what a middleman would pay. Instead, you purchased from Anou and enabled a marginalized community of artisans to transform Morocco’s crafts economy for the better. Thank you to you all. 

If you’re interested in supporting Anou’s long list of ambitious projects that will enable artisans to transform the fabric of Morocco’s craft economy, please do get in touch at hello@thanou.com.

Launching Anou’s First Community Development Fund!

We’re incredibly excited to announce Anou’s first Community Development Fund. Our goal with the fund is to provide outstanding artisans from across the Anou community with access to interest free loans with generous repayment timelines. This way artisans can accelerate any needed purchases, such as a new smartphone or a new loom, that will help them increase their sales.  

Anou’s artisan leaders will select participating artisans by analyzing artisan performance on their online stores and invite top artisan groups to take part in the fund. Examples of such performance indicators include but are not limited to the time it takes for artisans to confirm orders, the time it takes artisans to ship their orders, error rates on shipments and custom orders, among other criteria. 

Selected artisans will simply have to submit a video of themselves via Whatsapp outlining what they want to purchase, how much it costs, and how they will use it to improve their sales. Each application will be reviewed later this summer by a panel of five Anou advisors from the Ministry of Handicraft, British Council Morocco Office, OCP Foundation and the Moroccan Center for Social Entrepreneurship. The panel will be able to select one group or divide the funds amongst several artisan groups. Anou’s artisan team and Anou’s mentor team can only provide background information on a group to the board and will not be able to make any decision which artisan group receives the fund.

The artisans will then repay back the amount with 10% of each future sale until the balance has been paid back, which will then be applied to the second round of Anou’s Community Development Fund in 2020. 

The starting amount of the initial round is $1,000 USD ( about 10,000 MAD), which was provided as a generous donation by Melanie Royals of Maison 28, who after leading a weaving retreat to cooperatives within the Anou community along with Moroccan born weaving artisan Asmaa Aman-Tran, reached out asking how she might be able to support Anou. Maison 28 is committed to continued support for the Community Development Fund through future Weaving Retreats in Morocco. We’re incredibly thankful Melanie’s support in getting the fund started and also her commitment in ensuring her retreats benefit the growth of Morocco’s artisan community.

Are you interested in contributing to Anou’s Community Development Fund? It is a pilot and pending successful rounds, we’ll eventually ensure that any donations are tax deductible. If interested, just reach out to us at hello@thenaou.com!

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Participants in Maison 28’s weaving retreat learn spinning and carding from The Afous G Afous Cooperative outside of Ouarzazate.