Country Guide

Morocco

Morocco
Mehdi Alaoui

Guest Editor

Mehdi Alaoui

Founder & CEO at LaStartupFactory

Mehdi Alaoui is a serial entrepreneur, speaker, and investor. His experience includes leading Morocco's LaStartupFactory, ScreenDy, Media Mobility, PubOnline, EMA, Play & Meet, and the association Hack & Pitch. Mehdi graduated from the Sorbonne in Paris in 2004. In parallel with his entrepreneurial activities, he is very active in the civil society and holds the position of president of the committee Digital economy and NBIC of the CGEM, vice-president of the Assembly in charge of the Startup Pole and the presidency of the association Hack & Pitch.


Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.

Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.

Startup ecosystem summary

Key Startup Cities

Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Tangiers, Agadir

Connected Country Ecosystems

Tunisia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, France

Differentiators

  • Affordable and accessible technology and connectivity
  • Economic and political stability relative to the region
  • Young population

Challenges

  • Lack of startup mindset
  • Lack of growth funding and general access to capital
  • Greater legal protections and more business networks needed

Editor's Guide

Introduction

For the past two years, startups have been the subject of real excitement in Morocco. While young entrepreneurs are emerging, accelerators, incubators, investment funds, associations and corporates are now accompanying them on this adventure. The ecosystem is consolidating, notably through the development of new support programs. Among them:

  • The launch of the Innov Invest fund grants of up to 7,000,000 MAD for startups (US$700,000)
  • The launch of the ADD (digital development agency)–a large ecosystem of talented young entrepreneurs able to develop original and innovation solutions
  • The strengthening of mentor networks featuring technological partners such as Microsoft and IBM

We can also count on many international initiatives such as the GIZ TAM 3 project, a support program for very small, small and medium-sized enterprises, or the MEPI Local Grants Program to support partnerships with and among the people of the MENA region, by providing direct support to develop and promote innovative local solutions.

Outlook

In Morocco, the startup ecosystem is slowly but surely taking shape. In addition to various funding dedicated to startups, the Moroccan government created, via the Caisse Centrale de Garantie (CCG), the Invest Innov fund in 2017. The banks, in order not to miss the train of innovation generated by startups, began to react positively in order to help them directly or indirectly. Today, several large companies such as the Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP) and the Caisse de depot et de Gestion (CDG) and large telecom operators provide aid to the best startups in Morocco. The main challenges Moroccan startups are facing include:

  • Education : consistently providing great tech skills and talent and retaining that talent to develop the ecosystem
  • Startup trust : educating big corporates toward more collaboration with startups
  • Government policy regarding tech entrepreneurship: increasing the ease of launching and developing a venture with more open data. In this regard, it must be said that the kingdom has become, in a few years, a boulevard of opportunities, open to all young project leaders.

This is the general observation of many actors in the world of entrepreneurship, such as business leaders and financial organizations. Many opportunities are available to entrepreneurs or young Moroccans who want to start their own business as long as their projects are relevant and meet the needs of the market.

Featured Tech Startups

Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.

Startup Showcase

Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.

Founded by two ex-AI lab directors (one of them being the oldest AI lab in Africa) and two young members of the Moroccan diaspora who studied and worked in big corporations in the US and Europe, AIOX Labs is the perfect example of a startup that leverages the best and most advanced international data innovations to fine tune and adjust them to the Moroccan and African context. This fast growing team of AI and Big Data experts works for big corporates in parallel of launching their own products. Amount their biggest achievement, several data lakes for large corporates, first Moroccan cloud infrastructures, an NLP engine understanding the local dialect (a mix of Arabic, barbarian, Spanish and french words all written with Latin alphabet and numbers) as well as a computer vision software identifying abnormal pregnancies based on ultrasound photography processing. AIOX Labs works with the government, banks, industrial trusts as well as with NGOs, the United Nations and more. Aiming at keeping Moroccan talent close to develop the Moroccan knowledge and skill set, all four cofounders teach young students and corporates about AI and big data technologies.

Focus Industries

Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.

Agritech & Phosphate MiningOne of Morocco's main GDP components remains Agriculture and industrial operations related to mining extraction and food transformation. Moreover, Morocco's activities in this specific sector are spread across borders especially in America, but above all the developing countries. Morocco's knowledge in Agritech is very advanced and includes IoT, biochemistry, AI and more. The South-South cooperation and the social Impact of this industry is key.
FintechLike several African countries, Morocco's financial institutions are highly regulated. But, Morocco leverages its proximity with Europe (France and Spain mainly) to drive this industry toward innovative solutions dedicated to the African situation including financial education, virtual money, real-time transfers and more.
HealthtechMorocco leverages technology to cope with its lack of medical infrastructure and more generally the African situation. Moroccan Healthtech has added great value in developing several new generation drugs as well as innovative medical solutions.

Talent

Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.

  • Technical TalentAdvanced
  • Marketing TalentModerate
  • Experienced TalentModerate
  • International TalentUndeveloped

Culture and History

Editor’s commentary on how the country’s culture and history have impacted the ecosystem.

  • Resilience: Moroccan people are resilient
  • Stability: as one of the oldest monarchies in the world, Morocco’s political and economical systems are very stable and attract a lot of foreign companies
  • Entrepreneurship spirit: Moroccan people know that they cannot rely on anybody but themselves to climb the social ladder because there is a glass ceiling related to the historical families that cannot be broken except by entrepreneurship

Interested in becoming more involved in this ecosystem and connecting with local ecosystem leaders? Let us know.

Community

Active Investors

Angels4Africa (Casablanca): Angels4Africa is a network of experienced business angels contributing to the promotion of venture capital investment in a process of networking and funding opportunities for Startups with end-to-end support. The 3 main goals of Angels4Africa are the following ones: Democratize the financing of African Startups by Business Angels, Close as many startups-Business Angels deals as possible, Support the two parties in their respective process towards achieving the deals. (Source: Angels4Africa)

Innov Invest Fund (Rabat): Launched by Morocco’s Central Guarantee Fund. It plans to disburse capital to 100 seed stage companies against equity and smart debt in 300 companies in the next five years. Fund Size: USD 75 Mn (USD 51 Mn has come from World Bank); Ticket Size: US$30K to US$1MM (Source: WeeTracker)

Maroc Numeric Fund (Casablanca): Managed by MITC Capital, the Maroc Numeric Fund is a public-private investment fund launched in 2010 and is dedicated to financing Moroccan technology startups. It provides seed funding to innovative startups headquartered in Morocco. It also launched an Angel Fund in 2011. Ticket Size: US$500K to US$1MM; Focus Sector: Information and Communication Technologies, 20 percent share allocated to green tech, biotechnology, or any other innovative generalist sector. (Source: WeeTracker)

Outlierz Ventures (Casablanca): An Africa-focused early-stage VC fund investing in tech-enabled companies at Seed and Pre-Series A, across 4 main markets: Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, and Kenya. (Source: Outlierz Ventures)

Wise Venture Capital (Casablanca): A wholly owned subsidiary of SEAF (Small Enterprise Assistance Funds), which was awarded the management of a USAID-supported investment initiative program in Morocco. Fund Size: US$3.73MM; Ticket Size: from US$53K to US$530K (Source: SEAF)

incubators

Dare Inc. (Rabat): Dare Inc. is an incubation program that aspires to support social entrepreneurs to find innovative solutions responding to pressing social challenges. It aims to energize the entire ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in Morocco and to bring to the market a significant flow of startups capable of attracting national and foreign investments. (Source: Dare Inc.)

Espace Bidaya (Casablanca): Espace Bidaya is a Social Green Tech incubator based in Casablanca. They have incubated about twenty Moroccan social and environmental startups so far. The incubator is a member of Impact Network, the world's leading network of green and social startups. (Source: Bidaya)

Impact Lab Morocco (Casablanca): A Casablanca based incubator founded in 2014 by Leyth Zniber for high social and environmental impact innovation and entrepreneurship in Morocco and the region. It has partnered with NUMA, a European accelerator to launch five-month long acceleration programmes wherein they take 5% equity in exchange for access to office space, one on one sessions with experts, workshops, tutorials and more. Its ticket size would range from USD 50 K to USD 150 K. (Source: WeeTracker)

Orange Corners (Rabat): An initiative by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its partners to cultivate the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. The objective is to contribute to Morocco's economic growth by creating an environment conducive to the development of local entrepreneurship. (Source: Orange Corners)

accelerators

LaStartupFactory (Casablanca): A leading player in Morocco and Africa in the field of Open Innovation, LaStartupFactory has been working for three years to promote innovation on the continent, by supporting startups and large groups around innovative projects. Our approach: developing startups with high potential by orienting them towards market expectations; and accelerating the adoption of innovative technologies and methodologies by large groups. Through our approach, we aim to inspire millions of young people on the continent and give them hope to unlock their potential. (Source: LaStartupFactory)

Skytrend (Casablanca): Invests in innovative Moroccan startups, during the initial pre-seed and seed stage stages. Skytrend offers startups equipped offices, strategic, financial, marketing and legal support, and access to its relationship network. (Source: Skytrend)

Startup Maroc Booster (Rabat): A 6-month program designed to empower startups around 3 major pillars: Funding, Acceleration / Mentoring and international exposure. The program provide various sources of funding; as well as the weekly sessions that allows entrepreneurs to successfully develop their startups through a practical roadmap. Access to mentoring nationally and internationally is also one of the program major pillars, through One-on-One Mentoring, Bootcamps and workshops the entrepreneurs will meet with mentors, coaches, startup experts and representatives from the VC community of all backgrounds. (Source: Startup Maroc)

Startups Raising Capital
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Coworking Spaces/Hubs

133 Coworking (Casablanca)

7ay Coworking (Rabat): 7AY Coworking is a shared office space located in the heart of the industrial area of Takadoum in Rabat, 5 minutes from Avenue Mohammed VI.

Dare Space (Rabat): Dare Space is a multipurpose coworking space and innovation hub in Rabat. (Source: Dare Space)

New Work Lab (Casablanca): Coworking space and startup hub.

Secteur 21 (Rabat): Coworking space based in Rabat.

The Spot (Marrakech)

conferences

Moroccan Social Entrepreneurship Summit (Casablanca): The Moroccan Social Entrepreneurship Summit is an event organized by the Moroccan CISE and JCI to bring together different actors of social innovation, to discuss and recognize their achievements within the Moroccan community.

Startup Africa Summit (Rabat): StartUp AFRICA SUMMIT is a 3-day intensive learning event, a welcoming Networking environment allowing startups from Europe, MENA and the Moroccan diaspora to launch themselves on the African market, to share their experiences and to foster cooperation. and investment opportunities. (Source: Startup Maroc)

Startup Maroc Roadshow (Country-wide): StartUp Maroc Roadshow is a tour in a dozen Moroccan cities, which connects young people with local, national and international entrepreneurial players to develop a local community of entrepreneurs, fuel an environment of innovation around universities and thus boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem on a national scale. The tour program, through a main component, Startup Weekend Maroc, aims to inspire, educate young people and connect them to the resources necessary to make the creation of startups a realistic possibility.

meetups

Google Developer Group Casablanca (Casablanca): Google Developer Groups of Casablanca City is for developers who are interested in Google's developer technology, everything from the Android, App Engine, and Google Chrome platforms, to product APIs like the Maps API, YouTube API and Google Calendar API.

Google Developer Group Rabat (Rabat): Google Developer Group (GDG) Rabat is a bunch of tech-savvy people gathering together to discuss Google new technologies, share experience and hold exciting events. GDGs are for developers who are interested in Google's developer technology; everything from the Android, Chrome, Drive, and Firebase, to product APIs like the Cast API, Maps API, and YouTube API.

Startup Grind Agadir (Agadir): A global startup community with local chapters hosting regular events.

Startup Grind Tangier (Tangier): A global startup community with local chapters hosting regular events.

Government Programs

CCG: A public financial institution committed to funding innovation to ensure a continuum in the start-up funding chain, especially in the early stages of development. (Source: CCG)

Maroc PME: Also known as National Agency for the Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises, Maroc PME is an initiative by the government of Morocco to promote startups and SMEs. An industrial Acceleration plan was released in July 2015 and since then has launched multiple initiatives and framework to support Entrepreneurs. The three main agendas of the Maroc PME initiative are to create sustainable jobs, develop efficient ecosystems and to promote an environment conducive to entrepreneurship. (Source: WeeTracker)

Non-Government Organizations

CEED Morocco: CEED Morocco has partnered with USAID to provide learnings and support needed for entrepreneurship to continue to develop in Morocco. This has included partnering with major stakeholders in the private sector and connecting them to young startups. (Source: CEED)

Endeavor Morocco: Launched with the support of the United States Agency for International Development in Morocco, which has provided a grant to start Endeavor Morocco through its Morocco Economic Competitiveness (MEC) program with the aim of advancing youth entrepreneurship. Under the leadership of Linda Rottenberg, Co-founder & CEO, Endeavor Morocco is Endeavor’s sixth affiliate in the MENA region. The initiative provides these entrepreneurs a range of services including mentoring, access to key networks and introductions to sources of smart capital. (Source: WeeTracker)

Injaz Morocco: Created in 2007 under the SNI Group initiative, INJAZ Al-Maghrib is a non-profit organization that engages the private sector to the youth to contribute to the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs. (Source: Injaz)

Startup Maroc: The organization Startup Maroc (or Startup Morocco) is a non-profit organization which aims to accelerate job creation and stimulate economic development in Morocco through entrepreneurship and innovation. Startup Maroc operates in 15 cities across Morocco. It has supported more than 10,000 entrepreneurs at different stages of idea, Proof of concept, MVP Go to Market through training, acceleration programs, conferences and competitions in partnership with renowned national and international organizations. It organizes several key events, including the Startup Maroc Roadshow. (Source: Startup Maroc)

Universities

Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (Ben Guerir): Located in the “Mohammed VI Green City” in Benguerir, near Marrakech, UM6P applies a “learning by doing” approach and develops sound partnerships with world-wide class universities, to promote leadership and training in focused research areas. By contributing to the training of a new generation of Moroccan and African researchers, entrepreneurs and leaders, UM6P is committed to positioning Morocco as a country at the forefront of technology and human Sciences. (Source: UM6P)

Country Snapshot

Economy

Startup funding
Startup funding
US$7 million (2019)
Standard of living
Standard of living
Global rank: 120
Innovation
Innovation
Global rank: 75 (2020)
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship
Global rank: 65 (2018)
Annual GDP growth
Annual GDP growth
2.5% (2019)
(Global avg. 3.0%)
Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business
Global rank: 53 (2019)
Ease of starting a business
Ease of starting a business
Global rank: 43
Research and development
Research and development
0.7% of GDP
(Global avg. 2.3%)
Contract enforcement
Contract enforcement
Global rank: 60

Sources

Startup Funding: Partech
STANDARD OF LIVING: International Monetary Fund - GDP per capita (PPP)
INNOVATION: Global Innovation Index
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Global Entrepreneurship Index
ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: World Bank
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: World Bank
EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS: World Bank
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: World Bank
CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: World Bank

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

Society

Population
Population
36.9 million (2020)
Government
Government
Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy
Stability
Stability
Global rank: 86 (2020)
Internet usage
Internet usage
74.4% (2019)
Smartphone usage
Smartphone usage
37.9% (2018)
Literacy
Literacy
73% (2018)
Population under 15
Population under 15
26% (2019)
Median age
Median age
29.3 (2018)

Sources

POPULATION: Worldometer
GOVERNMENT: The World Factbook
STABILITY: Global Innovation Index
INTERNET USAGE: International Telecommunications Union
SMARTPHONE USAGE: Newzoo
LITERACY: World Bank
POPULATION UNDER 15: World Bank
MEDIAN AGE: The World Factbook

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

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