Until recently, job offers on the Internet in Morocco were confined to general classifieds websites or amateur job boards. It was not until 2007 that professional recruitment web sites complying to international standards, like Rekrute.com, Amaljob.com, Bayt.com or Emploi.ma, emerged online in Morocco.
Now that Moroccan recruiters are familiar with these online recruitment tools, it’s important to tackle the problem of youth employment in a fresh way. We’ve certainly all been there: how difficult is it sometimes for a student to find an internship or for a manager to find an intern? It’s become easier, however, thanks to Youssef El Hammal the 31 year-old CEO and founder of Stagiaires.ma, the first website to specialize in internship postings in Morocco (“Stagiaire” means “intern" or "trainee” in French).
With 11 years of experience in marketing and communication at several multinationals Including Kompass and Télécontact (a branch of Pages Jaunes France), Youssef launched Stagiaires.ma a few months ago, after raising 600,000 MAD (~US $70,000) from a private fundraiser. Since last Friday, the site is now the laureate of the Réseau Entreprendre Maroc (an association, professional network and think tank run by local entrepreneurs) which endowed it with an "honor loan" (with no interest rate) of 100,000 MAD (~ US $11,000), along with personalized assistance and coaching from a member of the Réseau Entreprendre Maroc. Stagiaires.ma has also signed a partnership agreement with AIESEC (the world's largest student-run organization, present in 110 countries with over 60,000 members) to allow its members and students to enroll on the platform.
Last Thursday, the 31-year-old entrepreneur agreed to open the doors of Stagiaires.ma's headquarters where we asked him a few questions. Here, he discusses entrepreneurship in Morocco, his plans and ambitions (also see our video chat with him below).
- What is Stagiaires.ma?
Stagiaires.ma is the first website to link students and Moroccan managers. It launched a year ago in its beta version and went fully live this year.
- How did you come up with the idea?
I came up with the idea when I was working as a manager in a multinational company. I used to work with students on specific projects, but it was hard to find qualified employees. To solve this issue, I launched a website that I first offered to the other managers of the group I was working for. After one month, I collected more than 300 hundred applications for 9 trainings offers. Seeing that success, I decided to launch a consumer version and to look for investors. Stagiaire.ma was born and launched officially in April 2012, with a business angel who is currently my partner for the business development.
- Could you please explain the concept and the team behind Stagiaires.ma?
The site offers several tools for managers to help them to find good candidates. The recruitment process is very simple; a manager can, for example, post a job offer, organize and manage his interviews, evaluate a candidate, and sign an online agreement.
We are currently 4 four people: a senior developer, a web designer, a community manager and myself. In terms of business, we have 12,000 students with active accounts, 900 managers subscribed to the site, over 600 internship offers, and 2 million page views last October.
- What can you tell us about the recruitment industry in Morocco?
Currently, Morocco has more than 400,000 students doing an internship each year. There are an additional 1.9 million young Moroccans between the ages of 19 and 25 years old who are unemployed, so there is potential in the job recruitment and training market.
- How is it to be an entrepreneur in Morocco?
It is very difficult to be an entrepreneur in Morocco and there is a lack of substantive funding for start-ups. Yet I had the chance to meet my current investors who helped me with their expertise, their offices and their networks.
- What is the biggest problem that you faced (or are facing) in your company as an entrepreneur?
I’ve had two major problems. The first was administrative; I spent 80% of my time preparing documents for the administration. The second was, ironically, recruitment! I had some difficulties hiring people with good skills who could help the company grow quickly.
- What is the biggest challenge you faced (or are facing) as an entrepreneur?
So far, I do not receive a salary. It’s important that entrepreneurs realize that it’s not a given that they will pay themselves a very high salary and drive an expensive car. You have to be very patient and to strongly believe in your project.
- What were the most important decisions that you made in your company, or what was a key turning point in your approach?
One of the most difficult decisions I had to make was dismissing an employee. Generally, when an employee is recruited it’s for a long-term project. But you have to ask yourself if it’s the right choice or not.
- Evolution of Stagiaires.ma
Today, we have over 12,000 students registered in our database. Our goal is to end the year with more than 30,000. Also, we’re planning a relaunch in December. The new site will incorporate several new features for managers, students and high schools, and will be multilingual (in English, Arabic and Spanish). We plan to launch a regional version for the Maghreb version in early 2013.
- Your expectations and your dreams for Stagiaires.ma?
Our goal is to implement this concept in many MENA countries with a customized platform for each country. That is why we are looking for partners who can facilitate our expansion.
Watch our interview with Youssef El Hammal, the founder of Stagiaires.ma