Morocco: Maison Malake – the social cooperative revolutionizing cashew nuts

As night falls over Marrakech’s medina, wrought-iron lanterns illuminate the narrow streets of the souk. The air is filled with scents of saffron and mint, and the metallic clang of the water carriers’ cymbals punctuates the buzz from the maze of alleyways.

It is to this UNESCO World Heritage site that Zineb Iraqi, a social entrepreneur and co-founder of the cooperative Maison Malake, comes to seek inspiration for her products.

Located at the centuries-old crossroads of civilisations and trade routes, Marrakech fascinates her. “I often go there with my partners to try new flavours and develop new recipes,” she says.

Since last year, Maison Malake has been producing spreads using ground cashew nuts from Guinea Conakry. All of the company’s ingredients are 100 percent natural, organic, and high in protein, antioxidants, copper and magnesium. Cashew nuts are an excellent food with enormous potential, that are still relatively underused.

The idea of promoting and processing cashew nuts came to Zineb and to her partners, Ali Akdim, Aïcha Bammoun and Said Abdelkader El Figuigui while they were visiting a cashew nut plantation in Guinea Conakry.

Convinced of the nut’s potential, the friends decided to create a social cooperative, calling it “Malake”, or “angel” in classical Arabic. Proud of Africa’s richness and diversity, the four friends were keen to pay tribute to it. “We love Africa, and we wanted our actions to be meaningful,” explains Zineb.

Maison Malake is committed to developing sustainable partnerships throughout its value chain, from its network of producers and suppliers to its distributors and customers. The cooperative aims to protect and develop ecosystems, while striving for innovation. Maison Malake products align with a “quality for all” strategy and are now available throughout Morocco.

The cooperative was able to establish itself in Morocco rapidly thanks largely to Eden Souk, the country’s leading marketplace for organic and natural products. The platform is supported by the African Development Bank through the Azur Innovation Fund investment fund. 

Eden Souk ensures that its producers are better paid, since fair trade guarantees them better margins. For consumers looking for controlled, authentic products that support their well-being the provenance and quality of items sold through a short distribution circuit with a limited carbon footprint is reassuring.

Zineb Iraqi exudes the energy of the continent’s young entrepreneurs who are promoting African knowledge and know-how from a South-South perspective. Her ambition is to export the Made in Africa concept worldwide. Smiling, she envisages “a future in which Africa promotes its youth and its women and prospers”. 

             

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

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