Maroc Annonces: Pioneering Online Classified Ads in Morocco

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Created 12 years ago, by founder Tadjne Filali, Maroc Annonces was the first online classified ads company in Morocco. Once a pioneer and today still a leader in the market, with 60K visitors per day and more than 22 million page views per month, Maroc Annonces is scoring an average site time of 14 minutes today, with only nine employees on board.

"I started thinking about the idea back in 1994 when I got my first internet connection and just fell in love with the World Wide Web, but I only launched in 2000 because I waited for the number of internet users in Morocco to increase," says Filali.

Filali refused to take on any funding for his business over the past 12 years, but looking at the rising competition, especially with e-commerce and daily deals websites like Soukaffaires, Dubizzle, MyDeal, Hmizate, SuperDeal and others in the Moroccan online market, he is starting to flirt with the idea. "Some competitors like Soukaffaires started with investments and are spending a lot of money on marketing, so they will definitely get visitors," says Filali.

Maroc Annonces also never spent any money on marketing during its 12 years. The only commodity spent intensely was time, says Filali. "16 hours of work per day and no vacation!", he recalls. When asked about his challenges, he hesitated. "Some excepted difficulties, not real challenges, were monitoring the listed ads and keeping the site clean from scams, other than this, I can't think of any challenges," says Filali.

The website has been self-sustaining for a long time now, insuring a regular revenue stream from advertisement and premium ads. Being widely spread all over Morocco, Maroc Annonces has managed to build up a large degree of trust with his clients over the years. Even with more than 150 classified ads companies (online and offline) in the country, Filali doesn't feel threatened at all, but more motivated to rise to the challenge by working on a soon-to-be-launched mobile application, introducing online payments and payment vouchers, and heading further into online retail. "I am working on an e-commerce website now, still in its very early stages," says Filali.

The company's maturity reflects the evolution of the Moroccan ecosystem. As one of four countries in the world who go by internet laws, along with France and the US, and ranking third in Africa after Nigeria and Egypt with a 49% internet penetration rate, reaching 16 million users, according to the latest reports of the Internet World Stats, Morocco is slowly but surely developing a startup-friendly ecosystem that is encouraging young entrepreneurs to start an online business.

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