The Phosboucraa Foundation was established in 2014 as the primary driver of corporate social responsibility across the Southern regions of Morocco for Phosboucraa SA and its parent company, OCP. Supporting human development through the Foundation’s initiatives and investments gives back to the people who deliver the worldclass standards that established OCP as a globally competitive mining and fertilizer company. Over the last six years, the Foundation has worked hand-in-hand with local communities to tailor initiatives and investments that nurture the human capital of Boucraa. Very quickly, major priorities emerged, and the Foundation has since supported and developed access to education, skills, entrepreneurship, and healthcare for the people in the southern regions.
Based on the priorities of community leaders and local people, the Foundation is focused on five key areas of intervention tailoring the aims of the Foundation to meet the needs of young people, and women especially.
What matters most is not just delivering results by numbers of people who have benefitted from the activities of the Foundation, but it is the fact that it is forging such strong and important connections and relationships with local people that they talk openly about the value of the initiatives to their lives. What the Foundation does really matters to the people of Boucraa.
Change can come from the most unexpected of places, empowering people to achieve their dreams can be transformative. A simple grain, easy to overlook can provide huge benefits for communities.
The Ayafa Cooperative, located near the Atlantic Ocean in Foum El Oued outside Laayoune, has turned couscous into an art, powered by an entire community. Local women have been empowered to create their own social enterprise, making couscous by hand using local ingredients, to create a truly authentic product. The Cooperative has introduced quinoa as an additional ingredient and has put on the market the new Soudaassi Couscous with 6 cereals.
The Phosboucraa Foundation supports the Al Ayafa Cooperative with financial aid and with volunteers. Considered a key social enterprise, the Cooperative now has 30 women members and serves as somewhere for them to meet, talk and work with like-minded women. Many of the members did not previously have jobs and the Cooperative teaches marketing and business alongside the creation of the couscous, to promote entrepreneurial spirit. Through the cooperative, the Foundation aims to economically empower these women and enable them to generate a revenue from their work.
Mrs Zoubeir, Former President of the Phosboucraa Foundation
Couscous has been a staple food in Morocco and North Africa since the 7th century. Since then it has spread to shops and menus across the whole world. But couscous is ours. It is part of our heritage, so as important as it is for us to share it with the world, we must also keep it close.
Using local grains, we produce a range of products. Unlike the usual industrial plants, we focus on flavor.
Every step of the way is done by hand, from the mixing of the flours and water, the sifting and re-sifting of the grains, to boiling, drying and packing the product. You wouldn’t think it would matter with couscous – but trust us – you really can tell the difference!
But the cooperative is also wonderful for the community. I, and many of the other ladies, had never worked before joining the project – to be part of something like this, to have a job, is a great feeling.
It makes me feel financially more stable, in a place where often women can feel left out of business. It makes me believe I can help improve our whole community by generating additional revenue through production and supporting our farmers by sourcing locally.
The cooperative is also a great way to make new friends, and learn from each other’s experiences – we share stories and advice – we are proud and happy to be a part of it.
And remember, please steam your couscous, don’t just cover it in boiling water. When you taste the difference, you will never go back!
Mrs Jmaia Ahl Al Ghardag | Founder of the Al Ayafa Cooperative
Supporting social enterprises like this are core to Phosboucraa’s values of community. Working with the group allows us to reach people that we would not ordinarily be able to. Helping local communities preserve traditions is very important to us, and in the Sahara, as in the rest of Morocco, there is no greater tradition than that of good food!
Hospitality is the first thing that any visitor to the Sahara notices, from welcoming people, copious cups of tea, and of course legendary feasts. No Saharan feast is complete without couscous, and true Saharan couscous is made by hand.
The cooperative allows age-old methods to be preserved, rather than over-taken by factories. And actually, the method is not that alien to us at Phosboucraa – strangely, making couscous and processing phosphates are actually similar processes, with all of the sifting and drying!
While tradition is vital, women’s empowerment is also key to the success of a community. This project allows us to do both.
The money made by the group can be used by the women to help support their families.
In a region where, historically, women have not had the same access to employment as men, it is a significant step to provide a role that gives them the choice of whether or not they want to work.
For us at Phosboucraa, the project meets so many of our community goals. We wish the group a successful future and we will be with them every step of the way.
Mrs Raghia Ezzaiar | Agricultural Program Manager - Phosboucraa Foundation
Technopole Foum El Oued, a city of knowledge and innovation serving the Southern regions of Morocco
At Foum El Oued, located 18 km from the regional capital of Laayoune, Phosboucraa Foundation is working to transform this area into a 600-hectare city of knowledge and innovation. Currently a barren landscape, by 2035 a MAD 2 billion investment will have transformed Foum El Oued into an urban center – a Technopole, dedicated to education, research and economic development. The Technopole, as much in its conception as its vocation, integrates the territorial specificities of the Region and of sub-Saharan countries. During construction, this project will take 1.8 million man-days and create 1,200 permanent jobs.
World-class education will be delivered at a new University Mohamed VI Polytechnic (UM6P) campus, a Lycée d'Excellence and an Industrial Skills Center. These will dramatically increase access to education, with the Lycée d'Excellence building on the previous experience in Khouribga, of delivering world-class education to teenagers, preparing them for university or work.
The school will accommodate 360 high school pupils and will take 200 students from preparatory classes. Not only will this school give local children a better chance of reaching international schools, but it will be a vital asset in helping students enter the Technopole’s own UM6P university.
Previously, if students wanted to advance their studies they would have had to travel out of the region, something that deterred many for either cost or personal reasons. UM6P will bring graduate-level education to the Southern Regions for the first time.
The new university will see more of the population being educated to a higher level, benefiting students and the entire region.
The Technopole will also deliver 30,000 days of vocational skills training annually. Courses will cover electronic and industrial engineering, mining and practical skills for the upskilling of local workers and young people.
UM6P is itself already a centre of world class applied research. We believe that our region, country and continent will benefit from new solutions to solve old challenges. In February 2020, UM6P founded the African Sustainable Agriculture Research Institute (ASARI) in the Foum El Oued Technopole, to focus on the challenges of the agriculture in the Saharan and saline environment.
With 10 research subjects already underway, the Institute will in term host 300 researchers with a focus on generating new knowledge and solutions for agriculture, solar power and water usage. In addition to the campus facilities, the Institute will have hectares of space alongside our operations to test its applied research in the real world.
The Institute has already signed partnership agreements with international partners.
In the long-term, we believe that this research will have major economic benefits for the Southern Regions as the Technopole will generate high value jobs as partners locate there to benefit from the cluster benefits.
The Technopole will also include beautiful modern living spaces for 30,000 inhabitants to live in sustainable comfort around a variety of inclusive public spaces, the beach, sports facilities and restaurants.
Wellness extends to the cultural. The Technopole will have a theater, museum, galleries and an artisan village, which will act as a venue for performances and exhibitions from the region and the wider world.