For the past two years Ruth Hajioff, founder of Wild Wood Groves, makers of argan food oil and skincare products, has been setting up a joint business venture company in Morocco with Moulay Hassan Daoui. “Bab el Oued d’Argan“ is currently constructing an argan oil production centre about 30km from Agadir.
The centre, which is due to be completed by the end of July will allow Berber women to make Argan oil and earn at least the minimum wage, rather than half or less of it. In addition, bay paying the workers a decent salary their lives will be improved and it is hoped that they will recognise the value of the trees and protect them (there are currently 860,000 hectacres, but this is decreasing by 20-60,000 hectacres per year).
The plan is that the centre will be open to tourists wishing to see how Argan oil is produced. Ms Hajioff also hopes that the other areas owned by the company will become a school for the women, a cafe and a health centre. She comments, “There is a 90% illiteracy rate among the country women which is why we want to organise educational programmes. We hope to complete at the end of this month or next month. If we can raise additional funding above our personal investment we will be able to employ the 20 women we have lined up (mainly widowed or divorced) as well as employ teachers for them.“
“We are planning to link with the Moroccan Tourist Board to organise tours of the centre as well as becoming involved in social development projects, such as education and onsite child care for employees’ children.“