With the oil price fall having the effect of levelling the Maghreb countries chances to meet budgets aspirations, Morocco seem to have found the secret to an effectively generalised and low cost development of its youth. This article of Devex of September 6th, 2016, gives a pretty clear picture of the country’s fun ride towards finding MOROCCO’s Entrepreneurial and Innovative Solutions to every social challenge.
By Kelli Rogers [ms-protect-content]
Oussayd Bouayad balances his computer on his lap while lounging on a well-worn couch. The telltale long tables and mismatched chairs of a coworking space litter the room. The building, located in an alley near Rabat’s rambling medina, is the headquarters of the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship, a 4-year-old nonprofit that’s assigned itself the overwhelming task of “finding entrepreneurial and innovative solutions to every social challenge in Morocco.”
On the MCISE COO’s computer screen are the inner workings of what will be Morocco’s first pre-sale crowdfunding platform, he told Devex.
The platform — named Wuluj, or “access”— will act much like an e-commerce site. Pre-orders allow consumers to guarantee immediate shipment on release, manufacturers can gauge how large initial production runs should be, and sellers can be assured of minimum sales. This should help jump-start an online market for Moroccan startups such as Marginol, which produces soaps using the castoffs from olive oil production, Bouayad explained.
Entrepreneurs in the U.S., for example, have successfully turned to crowdfunding for low-cost, risk-tolerant capital to help them bridge the gap between microfinance and commercial lending. But regular crowdfunding, or the practice of funding a venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, is currently illegal in Morocco. Legislation to create a legal loophole that would allow crowdfunding platforms to request to legalize operations was prepared, but hasn’t been introduced to parliament. Now, it isn’t expected to make headway before parliamentary elections in October, explained Eric Asmar, the director of programs at MCISE.
Wuluj sidesteps this problem by attaching crowdfunding with e-commerce, which is legal in the country. But if Bouayad’s optimistic pitch of Wuluj captures entrepreneurship’s potential, then this stalled — and potentially failed — legislation is representative of the slow, frustrating progress of most serious entrepreneurs and investors in Morocco.
Entrepreneurship — and the policy, cultural shift, funding and skill sets and that will allow it to thrive — is still at its beginning stages in the country. Enabling legislation is close to nonexistent and “professional pitchers” — those who pitch ideas, win prize money, then don’t deliver — remain rampant. But in a nation strapped with a 20 percent youth unemployment rate, several groups are determined that entrepreneurship will be the path to greater social capital and job creation. And this, they tell Devex, is an important year.
A burgeoning culture
For MCISE, progress means forging ahead by supporting 15 startups — initiatives ranging from telemedicine to recycling — as well as launching their pre-sale crowdfunding application in September, if they get the payment system up and running. Already, the group has received nearly 50 applications from startups interested in selling their products on the site. They’ve shortlisted 22 by selecting innovative, impact-driven products or services that already have a functioning prototype.
Leyth Zniber, co-founder of Moroccan incubator Impact Lab, thinks it’s likely too soon to be having the crowdfunding conversation. The entrepreneur doesn’t think funding is the biggest barrier to entrepreneurial success in Morocco right now, he told Devex, rattling off a list of funds and loans available to small startups.
Zniber founded Casablanca-based incubator Impact Lab in 2014, then partnered with Paris-based accelerator NUMA when they expanded operations to Morocco in 2015.
“Getting $100,000, $200,000, $500,000 is hard, but the initial $10,000 isn’t the problem,” he told Devex. “I think the biggest thing we lack is skills and expertise.”
Read the whole story at the above mentioned website address.