My criteria for selecting an argan supplier are as follows in the order of importance:
- Highest quality oil produced using best harvesting and extraction practices
- Fair wages for the women who work to produce the oil
- A well functioning organization
- Women in need with a clear vision for ways in which Kahina can assist beyond trade
- Income staying in the region
It has been challenging to find a producer that satisfies all of these requirements.As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have encountered corruption and groups of women unable to operate a functioning cooperative. Women not being paid for their work and, in some cases, foreigners running companies that pay a fair wage to the women for harvesting and cracking the nuts, but the income from the oil leaves the country.
On my most recent visit I encountered a group of women that operates effectively in the true spirit of a cooperative.The cooperative is run by a woman named Nadia who formed the cooperative at the request of the women in the village.She had been offering the women free literacy courses when they proposed that their group start a cooperative.Nadia did the work of applying for government funding, finding a building, purchasing equipment and setting up the cooperative.The women truly want to work to improve their lives and Nadia is their selfless leader.
I have learned that it is critical for the success of a cooperative to have an educated and dedicated administrator such as Nadia involved in running it. Hopefully, as more girls receive higher education in the region, they will choose to stay on in the villages and adopt these roles.