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Atayeb Al Rif (Rural Delights) Cooperative AAR

Type of Organization: Cooperative
Areas of work: Rural women
Region: Near East
Country: Lebanon
Description:
AAR cooperative was established in 2002 as a result of a developmental project implemented by YMCA-Lebanon and that aimed at providing rural women in Lebanon with income generation opportunities. After having the program establish and register almost 40 food processing cooperatives across Lebanon, AAR then acted as a hub for this network, following-up with their operations, proper processing practices and mainly marketing of their end products. With time, AAR’s network grew, operations expanded across new beneficiaries until initiating development projects itself. Accordingly, AAR’s scope of work is mainly divided and managed in two sections: (1) those related to the business-oriented activities for product marketing and (2) socio-economic development of the network of beneficiaries, mainly rural women producers but also reaching other community-based actors, small to medium entrepreneurs, farmers, refugees, individuals with special needs and other societal segments. Progressively, AAR managed to establish an efficient methodology for managing development projects and created a pool of support trainers, experts, consultants and academics from various backgrounds as food processing and safety, agriculture, packaging and labeling, water sanitation and hygiene, craft-making, management, finance, marketing, communication and leadership, self-development amongst others. AAR’s value in development projects consists of its ability to provide extensive know-how, understanding and solid relationship with agro-food cooperatives, especially those led by women, across Lebanon, as well as in training numerous women groups across the country. AAR has been operating for more than 15 years as a hub to support and follow-up with the operations of more than 40 women-owned cooperatives and Small to Medium Enterprises, distributed in rural areas across all Lebanon. The main objective is to attempt to enhance job creation, income generation and overall women empowerment in rural Lebanon. AAR supports the production of 100% natural and authentic Lebanese foods following traditional recipes and that respect the standards of food safety and hygiene. AAR follows-up with the women cooperatives’ operations and marketing under the brand-name “Lebanese Village Products”, mainly at the local level but with an international presence. Additionally, AAR provides services for donors and local initiatives in the training and development of women groups in the areas of processing of traditional preserved foods known as "mouneh" as well as other vocational training in handicrafts, soap-making, candle-making, makeup and beauty, as well as in the procurement of equipment and tools. With its pool of experts and consultants, AAR supports the network of women cooperatives on many fronts including: - Marketing of products and creating sustainable linkages: Linking consumers directly with producers. Market exploration, market infiltration, creating/expanding local and international linkages. - Quality control; safety and quality assurance: in terms of standardized recipes, laboratory tests, labeling requirement…etc. - Product development: packaging, new recipes/products, acquisition of needed equipment, training on equipment, generation/uplifting of customized marketing tools including logos, labels, documentaries, brochures, flyers…etc. - Provision of training and updated information: Training cooperatives, SMEs, farmers and the public on general topics as food safety, food processing and quality, practical applications of agriculture and post-harvest procedures as well as on water quality, hygiene and efficiency. Training cooperatives and SMEs on laws and bylaws, management, communication, group dynamics, leadership, bookkeeping, accounting, marketing issues…etc. - Serving as a local centralized and mobile sales points: in Beirut where products from all Lebanese areas are found in two centralized locations for AAR; head-office and warehouse and in a boutique in Gemmayze, and one mobile food truck.