Best practice example: alternative finance models for argan oil cooperatives in Morocco

The UCFA, the Union of Argan Oil Women Cooperatives in Agadir, South Morocco, is the first and biggest Union of Argan Oil Women Cooperatives which aims to guarantee a top-quality product and a fair income to the 1,200 Berber women in 22 cooperatives in South West Morocco that help to produce it.

The cooperatives provide an independent income for women as they control the entire value chain, from the collection and transformation of the nut up to the sale of the high value finished cosmetic or food product. In this way, women have a recognised place in the economy and can then participate in other decisions like argan forest protection, or the introduction of climate-friendly technologies. In Morocco, they started with the women’s own savings but then formed them into cooperatives and have now been able to create business models and build the business up to a certain level. The women also formed a consortium, with the intention of looking for international markets for their products. Even with the 8% interest rate, women still felt confident to take the loan, as they were sure they would get a harvest. All the work was done by local workers, but they got international labs to verify that their product met international standards.