The innovation in question is that of combining two unlikely resources that are the Moroccan traditional craftsmanship and repurposed materials such as plastic and VHS. AMAZ works on rekindling the fire of Moroccan craftsmanship by giving it a new modern look through their colorful sneaker designs that are both vegan and eco-friendly. This innovative idea touches both the environmental as well as the social aspect seeing how the company creates stable jobs for artisans and contributes to the reduction of waste output through repurposing.
Al Akhawayn University
Mary Grace Neville
Back in 2017, a little idea that lived in Mrs. Fadela Bennani’s back of the head for quite a long time, came to be and emerged under the form of a start-up called “Amaz”.
Mrs. Bennani has always been a conscious and responsible global citizen who thinks twice about the environment before making any purchase or taking any decision.
It was through a combination of her strong will to give back to her country, her strong sense of social responsibility, and her love for sneakers that she started “Amaz” a company that makes and sells stylish, modern-looking sneakers with a traditional Moroccan twist that are 100% vegan and eco-friendly. This idea of introducing a local brand that promotes sustainable and responsible consumption to the Moroccan market- a market that is flooded with exported goods- is unprecedented, ingenious, and thoughtful. The innovation part in the Amaz products does not lay only in the fact that they are conscious. It lays also in the combining of a traditional Moroccan artisanal know-how which is used to be used only used in traditional garments that are worn only in special occasions with an essential piece in everyone’s closet which is the sneaker. Using Moroccan craftsmanship in such a modern aspect will give it continuity and will introduce it to the younger generations also it supports the Moroccan artisans’ businesses. Also, the introduction of innovative recycled materials such as the cassette tapes in the production is a new innovative idea.
The idea behind this project has been turning in Mrs. Bennani’s head for quite some time and what triggered it was in fact the birth of her daughter back in 2014. In addition, before that, there were many reasons that pushed Mrs. Bennani to launch her start-up. The main ones were her the desire of giving back to the community, the fostering of responsible consumer behavior in our country, as well as orienting the population’s mindset towards eco-friendliness.
This sense of responsibility has gotten even stronger after the birth of her first daughter as she states: “The day my daughter was born, an epiphany hit me; I realized that the work that I was doing at consulting didn’t match with my world-views and so I had to do something about it right away.”
Seeing the way Morocco is orienting towards green energies and environment-friendly products like hybrid cars, introducing sneakers that were made from recycled material- mainly VHS tapes-did not seem like such a bad idea.
The idea of recycling VHS tapes into her products came after her collaboration with the brand Koun", another eco-social Moroccan start-up specialized in waste transformation and upcycling techniques. They helped the brand develop a technique to include the plastic strand of VHS cassettes in the plastic part of the sneaker which is the sole of the shoe. Also, "Koun" helps the brand with supplying fabric leftovers that they collect which are also included in the final product. The sneakers are all designed by Mrs. Fadela while the know-how of "Koun" was what helped the brand use recycled materials in its production.
The impact that this start-up had on Moroccan society might not be seen on a large scale, but it surely impacted customer behavior in a positive way. People who shop from the Amaz store display a great sense of responsibility towards the environment and show that they are aware of the current pressing issues that need to be changed through a shift in our thinking paradigms and habits.
Moreover, the use of VHS tapes in the production of their sneakers impacts the environment positively by indirectly reducing the greenhouse gases emissions; people usually, when they want to get rid of old VHS, burn them to ensure the deletion of their personal data which produces many toxic gases that in turn create a huge ecological hurdle.
Being a relatively new idea to be implemented in the Moroccan context, Amaz still provides work for a decent number of artisans in the Casablanca region. Thing that contributes to the economy. Moreover, it is worth noting that it is scalable and is foreseen to grow in the following years as long as we keep raising eco-consciousness inside the Moroccan society.
Another big impact of the of the business is a social one. For every product bought from Amaz, the brand funds one night at boarding school for a girl from the Moroccan rural area as it has a high rate of girls dropping out of school. This is to support the education of these girls and help them follow their dreams. Mrs. Fadela says that she wants them to also have the privilege of pursuing their education as she did.
Lastly there is a socio-economic impact that lays into helping local artisans and supporting their businesses. With the change in the culture in Morocco with globalization, traditional handicrafts are getting less and less popular since they are used only in the occasionally worn traditional clothing. Introducing this craftsmanship into modern clothing is a way of keeping this Moroccan art alive as well as keeping the jobs and supporting the artists.
In the shadow of the 2020 pandemic, Amaz persisted through the economic hardships that came with recession and kept their staff of 10 craftsman who were being sustained through these rough times.
Besides that, as of the start of 2021, Amaz has sold over 3,000 pairs of sneakers: ~1,700 nationally and the rest were shipped overseas (mainly Europe and the Americas). From those sales, 5% of the gross income was donated to charity to finance education in remote rural areas for disadvantaged children, mainly girls.
Currently, “Amaz” consists of a 3-members team and a staff of 10 artisans who benefit from insurance and safe and convenient work environment. Socially, the provision of work to these artisans during the Covid pandemic goes to show how much of an impact this small business has.
As for the environmental side, “Amaz”, with their product line “Mika” have recycled over 300 VHS tapes and 100 large commercial plastic bags.
Fadela Bennani, founder & CEO
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casablanca, casablanca, MA
Business Website: https://www.amaz-store.com/en/
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
AMAZ is a Moroccan innovative start-up that was launched by Mrs. Fadela Bennani in 2017 for the purpose of selling vegan, eco-friendly sneakers; their products do not use any animal material like leather or wool.
Mrs. Fadela has always dreamed of creating an elegant and artisanal, vegan, and eco-conscious sneakers line with a Moroccan touch, promoting the ancestral know-how all whilst supporting the Moroccan footwear industry. Moreover, helping Moroccan artisans to highlight and display their skills to a wider market has been and still is one of the foundations upon which “Amaz” was built.