Local Knowledge: Artisans Online

Inhabitants of the Aït Bougmez Valley are a surprisingly resourceful bunch, testament of which is the launch of Anou (www.theanou.com), a new artisan-managed online platform that enables illiterate artisans to sell their work independently.

Unlike Etsy or eBay, the resource isn’t open to anyone, but rather is limited to locally recognised artisans peer-verified by Anou’s leadership team, the benchmark being the quality of the products produced and the motivation of the artisans to expand and develop their product line.

Anou then assists artisans in creating a profile page with a biography of each member, photographs of their studio and tools, and GPS coordinates of their workshops. Each piece created is subsequently approved by Anou’s administration team before being posted to the site, ensuring that every product you see is exactly the item that will be shipped to you. When products sell, artisans pop the purchased item in the post and, voilà, in two to three weeks your new handcrafted carpet, bag or sculpture will arrive on your doorstep.

It’s a great resource for travellers, as Anou’s primary buyers are, so far, conscientious tourists keen to ensure that they are buying direct from artisans. At the time of writing there were 200 artisans on the site and 35 cooperatives and associations now extending well beyond Ait Bougmez across the whole country.