The Benefits of Doing Business in Casablanca

by Karim Jazouani, March 6, 2013

In Morocco, a huge percentage of the country’s production comes out of the area known as “Greater Casablanca,” which includes the city itself and surrounding suburbs. 

44% of Morocco’s industrial production, 33% of national industrial exports, and 30% of the Moroccan banking network are concentrated here, according to Casainvest.ma, making Casablanca a key hub for local and international investors and entrepreneurs.

I have often heard from Moroccan entrepreneurs that the Moroccan Regional Centers of Investment (RCI) have done great work to make applying for and setting up a business in Morocco easier, and I can attest that it's true; I personally benefitted from their services when I started my consultancy business a few years ago. As a public administration, the RCI acts as a unique interlocutor for investors in each of the sixteen administrative districts of Morocco. 

Hamid Ben Elafdil, CEO the RCI of Greater Casablanca

I spoke with the CEO of the Greater Casablanca RCI, Hamid Ben Elafdil, about the RCI and entrepreneurship in Morocco in general. Check out the interview below:

1) How does the RCI work?

The RCI is a “one stop shop” for all those willing to set up their companies and start their own business in Casablanca and its suburbs. Our mission has a couple pieces:

  • To assist entrepreneurs and investors in business creation and setup procedures.
  • To provide assistance for new investment projects.
  • To support and develop existing investment projects.
  • To make Casablanca more attractive for investments.
  • To target key sectors to boost the region’s economy.

At our RCI, we have committed ourselves, once we receive the completed files, to finish all paperwork within 5 business days. We also provide support and advice to entrepreneurs to help them launch their project.

For investors, we offer full assistance from conception to realization of the project, including in real estate, partnerships, financing and HR. We provide information investors may need, assist them in preparing their investment files, and work closely with the involved administrations to facilitate the process and any follow-up.

We also have a mediation role if problems arise between the investors and an administration.

2) What are the main steps to creating a company in Casablanca?

Today, an entrepreneur can create their own company at the RCI of Casablanca in just 5 steps:

Step 1: Register the company name. A registrant will be provided with a document certifying that no other company in Morocco has the same name.

Step 2: Prepare all the required documents, especially the company’s bylaws, the location certificate and a completed application.

Step 3: Schedule an appointment online to submit the files by registering online at www.casainvest.ma.

Step 4: Submit the complete file to the RCI.

Step 5: Within 5 business days, the entrepreneur will be informed by SMS text that their application is completed and is invited to pick up the documents at the RCI.

3) What are the most attractive sectors for investment in Casablanca?

There are 3 major sectors in the Greater Casablanca area, off-shoring, the aero-space industry, and the automotive industry.

4) What about Casablanca attracts entrepreneurs?

Casablanca is the first "multimodal" logistical platform (railway, sea port, airport and motorway) of Morocco with 55% of foreign trade, 80% of overall air freight of goods, and 51% of temporary transactions coming through the district. The city is also the first North-African professional district with more than 1,400,000 m² of officescpace.

There's a very high density of strategic partners including subcontractors, carriers, research departments, and services to companies here too. Casablanca is also a strategic export hub with close proximity and free-trade agreements with the U.S., the EU, Turkey, and the Arab world.

The district is also an R&D center; a pole of innovation and scientific research, with more than 20% of national professors residing around Casablanca, of whom more than 60% specialize in science and engineering. Lastly, Casablanca has a strong HR community thanks to the high quality of training courses provided by 10 faculties, 7 higher education schools, more than 45 private colleges and the first institute for offshoring in Africa.

5) What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to start their company in Morocco?

Many entrepreneurs just jump into their startup without knowing the market; take time to study what you’re getting in to and make sure to figure out, in detail, how you plan to finance the project.

Investors often have their own criteria and rules imposed on them; make sure you are familiar with these. 

You need a thick skin; make sure you have the capacity to face problems and take on risk. A lot of entrepreneurs lack managerial skills, be sure to nurture this skillset and learn how to manage your team.

For more information on the RCI and Morocco's entrepreneurship ecosystem, check out the RCI website here.

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Karim Jazouani is an independent web consultant based in Casablanca, Morocco. He has worked as the former North Africa Head Of Sales at Yahoo!, as the former marketing and communication manager of Menara.ma, and former co-host, radio columnist and creator of the #1 Moroccan radio show on web/IT/high-tech, as well as the founder of press release website @communiquemaroc. Previously, he worked for various digital companies in France and Morocco like Yahoo!, CBS Interactive, Glowria.fr, Diouda.fr, and Maroc Telecom. He graduated from the Paris XII University, and holds Masters degrees in management, coaching and e-marketing, and e-commerce, trade and sales. He’s also an extreme sports addict (longskate, bodyboard). You can find him on his LinkedIn page and on Twitter at @karimjazouani.

 
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