The Marrakesh region is known throughout Morocco for creating some of the finest Poufs in the country.

The craft was introduced by Sefrou’s Jewish residents to the women of the Sefrou region. The Poufs making became very popular because it allowed the women to work from home. It also became a social activity as many women visited one another and taught each other different pouf-making techniques while they managed household duties.
The Poufs brought an additional source of income that was then used to help the family with everyday purchases, school supplies, and clothing.
Traditionally, men have been expected to handle all affairs outside the home while women are in charge of all domestic affairs. As such, very few women participate in the trade of their craft.
Often the buttons are sold in bulk at a low price to wholesalers or tailors who then resell the buttons with a much higher markup in the broader market.

The Start
In 2005 a group of women gathered to form an association to learn about how they could form a cooperative. The association could not generate income as dictated by Moroccan law so the purpose was simply to gather women who believed that they could benefit much more if they could manage the sale and the development of their Poufs.Forming an association would also create a collective group that could then tap into government resources like literacy classes that were desperately needed given that the illiteracy rate of the women in the region was close to 80%. With the help Peace Corps volunteer, l’Association Boutons d’Or, Berberb, was created and drew a membership of approximately 200 women. The weekly literacy classes held at various elementary schools throughout the region and training on the process of forming and managing a cooperative began. After attending some trainings provided by the Kingdom of Morocco’s own Office of Cooperation Development, visiting other successful cooperatives, and prospecting clients for their buttons, a number of women decided to take the next step in forming a cooperative.
Taking the next step
Again with the assistance of a Peace Corps volunteer, the Berberb Cooperative, was born in July of 2005. Ten members formed the core group that would now be able to help the women of the region financially through the sale of their Poufs. The cooperative began with a micro-credit loan to acquire supplies. Then, little by little the cooperative’s list of clients began to grow as the cooperative gained notoriety for the quality and diversity of their buttons drawing praise from tailors and wholesalers in Rabat and Casablanca.It was a bold step for the women who were now delving into a male-dominated environment negotiating the price of their products, determining the value of their labor, and managing a growing enterprise.
Learning new skills and diversifying our products
In 2005, the cooperative asked the Marrakech Province delegation to train a group of women interested in learning to weave fabrics on horizontal looms.The women took advantage of a two-year program offered by the delegation.Once they had received their weaving certificate in 2007, they solicited and were awarded funding from Morocco’s Initiative Nationale pour le Dévelopment Humain to obtain a number of horizontal and vertical looms. The looms provided more employment opportunities and diversified their product line.The creation of new Poufs continues today.The membership, which now consists of more than 40 members, continues to exchange ideas that have led to new products like necklaces, bracelets, and earrings made from their buttons and have accented their fabrics by adorning them with buttons as well.
Empowering women
As the cooperative has grown so have the activities of the Berberb Association. Since 2005, the association has collaborated with the Peace Corps in forming a young girls empowerment camp for the Middle Atlas region called GLOW, Girls Leading Our World, that has been held annually. In addition to the camps, a portion of our profits from the cooperative is used to provide members and the surrounding community training in natural dyeing techniques and product development workshops provided in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and the Peace Corps. Our goal is to improve the livelihood of the women of the Marrakech region. The cooperative has allowed many women to gain the skills necessary to develop a higher quality product, to obtain more value from their labor, and to gain the confidence to venture out from their traditional domestic role into the world of trade and commerce.Your purchase of our products assists us in furthering our mission.Every sale and every new client allows us to welcome more members into the cooperative and extends our community outreach.