Wafa Zerrouki is working to reduce poverty and improve the living standards of artisan women in rural and disadvantaged areas of Morocco. In 2003, Wafa established the Wafa Association of Artisan Women in the High Atlas Mountains to provide income-generating activities for women. Rural migration and a lack of employment opportunities have contributed to the uneven development between rural and urban areas, and to the disruption of traditional patterns of village life in Morocco. The Wafa Association encourages artisan women to form cooperatives based on their expertise in carpet-weaving and other high-quality handicrafts. They share the profits from these income-generating projects in order to improve their livelihoods and economic status.
The Association provides craft workshops and vocational and technical training to develop the capacity of women in business management and to help them market their products more effectively for sale to a national and international market. Wafa connects women’s cooperatives together to form a network of local and international artisan associations to help improve their capabilities, share their knowledge, and expand the market for their products. Women participate in craft fairs and exhibitions to develop relationships with customers and improve their ability to market their products.
To date, Wafa’s project has helped to empower over forty women in rural Morocco by turning their tradecraft into a profitable enterprise. Looking forward, Wafa seeks to replicate and expand her Association to neighboring countries in North Africa to help break the cycle of poverty for rural artisan women thereby raising their economic and social status.
In 2009, ten female artisans from the Wafa Association participated in an exhibition in Marrakesh where their handicraft products (clothes, carpets, and home décor) were sold to tourists and introduced to the international market. The participants learned communication and sales techniques in preparation for the exhibition and were pleased to make linkages and partnerships with institutions and actors in the field of traditional handicrafts. In addition, they generated significant revenue from the event to help support their rural livelihoods and invest in product development.
Artisans in Wafa’s Association continue to engage in training to further their knowledge of product diversification and participate in exchanges with other female cooperatives who can lend their expertise and best practices.
To Contact Wafa:
Tel: +24 (0) 385120212