Friday, July 15, 2011

Marche Maroc Essaouira

Guess who has two thumbs and got to spend another week beach-siiiiiiide
---> this guy!

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend another few days in my favourite Moroccan city while helping out at one of the last Peace Corps run craft fairs back in Essaouira. For the last couple of years, Small Business Development volunteers here in Morocco have organized craft fairs approximately every three or four months in large cities across the country. Any artisan, association, or coop that the SBD volunteers work with, are invited to bring their goods to the host city for a three to four day long craft fair. These marches are usually held in conjunction with the local government, with the cooperation of the local artisana, and with the financial assistance of USAID. These Peace Corps craft fairs, branded as Marche Maroc, are driven by the idea of quality, set pricing, and fair trade and have been held in cities such as Marrakech, Fes, Rabat, and now for the first time Essaouira.

The extraordinary team of SBD volunteers are the folks responsible for executing such a successful craft fair this past week, and I was happy to offer up my services to help man the actual event. Other sector volunteers were generally asked to be floaters - giving artisans breaks when they needed them, filling in at stations that needed assistance, helping sort out questionable display styles, etc. It was a long week for the artisans and volunteers alike, with seminars and workshops starting at 9am and the craft fair running daily from 11am to 10pm.

The event exposed artisans to a new market for their products, to daily seminars on customer service, brand development, and sustainability, and to a new network of fellow artisans across the country. Unfortunately, as the SBD sector is coming to a close this coming year, this may be one of the last Marche Marocs put on by Peace Corps. As this was assuredly the last Marche Maroc I would attend before COS, I definitely bought my fair share of products!

One half of the craft fair tents on the north side
(shoes, carpets, wood crafted goods, jewelry, daggers, embroidery)

Another set of tents on the west side
(carpets, jewelry, goats cheese, and music)

Tents on the East and South walls
(bags, clothing, embroidery, argan products, skins & pelts,
scarves, dolls, metal work, jewelry, stuffed animals)

The table where I spent most of my hard earned dirhams -
Ali's association located in Arazan, just outside of Taroudant

Her ladies produce argan oil - both cosmetic and for cooking,
as well as Amlou - a spread similar to peanut butter,
usually made out of argan oil, almonds, and honey.

Her women also make necklaces, bags, headbands,
scarves, and dresses out of beautiful materials.
Over the past year I have purchased at least one of each of those products...

One of the many carpet & embroidery vendors

The very popular shoe stand from Taroudant

Traditionally dressed dolls made by Anne's ladies in Touama

Photos curtoesy of fellow PCVs Emily Donahue and Ali Records

1 comment:

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