CoopérativeSanad was founded in 2013 byAmina Majdi. Located in the Beni Mellal-Khenifra region in northern Morocco, the agricultural cooperative brings together 68 rural women who specialize in the production and distribution of spices, mixed spices, and grains, namely different varieties of couscous. These delectable natural products are handled with care in the National Office of Food Safery (ONSSA) certified facilities, ensuring condiments of the highest quality reach the kitchen table. The cooperative has a social commitment. “Moroccan women who live in villages or the mountains cannot take on entrepreneurship due to lack of diplomas, funds, and training, which results in poverty,” explains Amina. “Our goal is to uproot rural women from poverty by developing their skills in community.” This objective is reflected in the structure of the collective: three groups of 20 women each focus on one category of products, allowing them to build close-knit relationships and become experts in their respective commodities. Initiatives such as training, literacy programs, daycare, domestic violence support, and travel, are also organized to bolster the economic and social empowerment of employees.

This year, CoopérativeSanad was one of five SMEs in the processed food sector chosen by the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades Morocco program to attend the SIAL Montreal trade show April 20-23, 2022. In collaboration with the ITC and local partner ASMEX, TFO Canada delivered one-on-one coaching to 13 Moroccan SMEs in the processed food sector, including Sanad, in preparation for the event. The training sessions were delivered on Zoom and consisted of imparting knowledge on packaging, product pricing, client relations and Canadian tastes and standards. Two days prior to the main event, Coopérative Sanad benefitted from a TFO Canada-sponsored market familiarization tour in Montreal to assess the Canadian landscape for processed foods. The itinerary included visits of facilities, ranging from supermarket chains like Metro and Adonis to ethnic grocery stores and local marketplaces such as Marché Ariya and Marché Jean-Talon. This was an illuminating trip in which the cooperative identified opportunities for its products to reach shelves across the Atlantic. “We could export Moroccan paprika, a marvelous spice of which 90% is found in our Beni Mellal-Khenifra region,” shares Amina. “From what I saw, Canadians also adore mixed spices for shawarma and tajine, and especially the 17 ingredient-mix of ras el hanout!” Once at the trade show, promise and success followed. “Our experience at SIAL was excellent,” comments Amina. “Our stands were constantly visited by prospective buyers, probably due to the amazing smell and colours emanating from our display.” Coopérative Sanad also attended multiple B2B meetings with Canadian clients, during which it gained 13 new contacts and successfully secured two orders. Riding on this wave, the cooperative is preparing two further orders to Canada for mixed spices and grains. Sanad hopes to continue growing and improving women’s lives in the coming years through developing new products and accessing markets all around the world.

TFO Canada is pleased to see the implementation of strategies provided during training to SMEs, and to enhance the access of these companies to international markets through trade fair participation. We are committed to gender equality through our work by creating sustainable business partnerships for exporters from developing countries.

We would like to thank Amina Majdi, the founder and director, for sharing her experiences.