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10 Tips for Moroccan Entrepreneurs from a Maroc Web Awards Co-Founder
In Morocco, the Maroc Web Awards (MWA) have become the event to look to in the web and mobile space- our LeWeb, if you will, bringing together the geeks, bloggers, entrepreneurs, technology businesses, large companies, digital marketers, ministers, and journalists that comprise the local internet ecosystem.
Launched in Casablanca in 2008 by Synergie Media, a well-known web design agency based in Agadir (South of Morocco), the event has continued to grow each year, says the agency's founder Younes Qassimi. This 6th edition, its biggest, will host more than 1,000 people in Rabat.
The event wasn't always this big, however. In 2006, Synergie Media launched a Moroccan blogger event called “Blogotour," which was designed simply to get bloggers away from their computers for an evening so they could talk and connect with each other IRL (in real life).
By 2009, Blogotour had become quite popular and spread to 7 cities with over 20 total meet-ups. ”It was amazing,” says Qassimi. “The events didn’t make revenue, but they were a ton of fun and connected us to the big names in the local Moroccan blogosphere.”
Building upon this momentum, the idea for a web industry event came naturally, and the Maroc Web Awards was born.
Now, Mehdi Reghai, Mounir Talibi, Younes Qassimi, Ahmed Chergaoui and all the members of Synergie Media team work year-round to build a program featuring the best bloggers and organize a national competition. They've also recently launched a web magazine called The Nexties, which delivers innovative coverage of the latest news in tech, gadgets and culture.
“Our passion has always been to make the web in Morocco a better place to think, work and play," says Qassimi. Our main goal is to inspire and connect creative talents that get together, meet each other, grow their network of friends and contacts, and create projects that will raise their profile.”
If you're an entrepreneur in Morocco, it's not to miss.
Watch the video interview below to see Younes Qassimi talk about the MWA and entrepreneurship in Morocco.
Separately from the interview, I also asked Younes Qassimi two main questions about entrepreneurship in Morocco:
1. What are the major challenges when setting up an online business in Morocco?
The number of people setting up their own e-business in Morocco has gradually risen since 2005, but the proportion of business owners is still lagging behind other Arab countries. The main challenges are:
- A lack of capital available at the earlier stages. Most entrepreneurs raise funding from family and friends, sometimes maxing out their credit cards in the process. The local angel investor community is a very informal network of investors, typically wealthy individuals, who mostly invest in real-estate, as they know the profit margins well. Yet they would do well to learn about tech startups, which offer a rare ray of light in an otherwise gloomy economy.
- A lack of local mentorship. There haven’t been a lot of successful start-ups over the last decade in Morocco. Yet, as entrepreneurs coming out of Maktoob or companies that came after Maktoob mature, perhaps Morocco can learn from the experience of these mentors from the broader Arab region.
2. What is your advice for people who are willing to become entrepreneurs in Morocco?
Based on our own experience, we at Synergie Media came up with a “Top Ten list”:
- Have a “good” idea.
- Be passionate about what you are trying to achieve.
- Focus on your mission.
- Be willing to make sacrifices.
- Work smarter.
- Be willing to work very hard.
- Work ethically and build trust with your team, partners and clients.
- Surround yourself with people who are like-minded and driven to succeed.
- Be lucky.
- Have fun and enjoy the milestones achieved because the road to success is a long one!
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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