MNF Angels, will business angels save seed funding in Morocco?

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Maroc Numeric Fund (MNF) has partnered with the OCP Entrepreneurship Network to launch a new 100 million Moroccan dirham fund.

Announced Friday the new MNF Angels fund looks to invest tickets of one to eight million dirhams (US$100,000 to $800,000) in Moroccan startups.

More specifically the OCP Entrepreneurship Network (OCPEN) of the Moroccan OCP group, the world’s leading producer of phosphate rock and phosphoric acid, and MITC Capital, the managing company of MNF, have partnered.

Until now the MNF, a public/private initiative created in 2010, and operating under the government's Maroc Numeric 2013 program, was Morocco’s only VC option for big tickets.

Finding seed funding was tough also. Only a few organizations like Réseau Entreprendre Maroc (REM) offered funding, usually under $10,000. In “high impact entrepreneurship” Impact Lab offers tickets from $50,000 to $150,000.

“Today, the activity and intervention of angels is not structured,” Dounia Boumehdi, general manager of MNF told Wamda over the phone. “It’s sad, because Morocco lacks interesting startups that don’t fit MNF’s investment criteria,” she said.

“Over the last three years, we’ve seen an improvement of the quality of our deal flow in general,” she explained to Wamda. “Business angels are interested but don’t have time to treat [the applications].”

She added that MNF’s idea was to leverage the experience of MITC Capital and its expertise in applications processing. “The goal is to select startups with high growth potential,” she said, “to help them sharpen and polish their applications.” Basically to do the upstream work angels don’t have the time for.

The MNF Angel fund includes around 10 investors and startups from the ICT, green tech or biotech sectors, will be selected each month to pitch for investment. Whether or not they’ll get it is another matter.

According to a statement from MNF the new fund will bring technical assistance to angels, mostly on finance, strategy, and legal aspects.

Will the angels’ structuration allow Moroccan startups to grow better? (Image via Shutterstock)

It’s not the first time that MNF has tried to give life to an angel investor scene. A year after they launched, in 2011, they launched MNF Club.

Before coming to a halt due to a big workload the club enabled the funding of two startups by angel investors. Working on a co-investment model the angels were only offered to invest in startups MNF was investing in.

MNF will not get revenue from the MNF Angels but OCPEN will cover the salary of a new employee who will work full time on the club.

The names of the angel investors, or the person assigned to run MNF Angels, have not yet been disclosed.

For OCPEN entering the funding arena is a first, and a new step in its collaborative entrepreneurship (CE) strategy.

REM’s director Aziz Qadiri, CEED Morocco’s director Fatim-Zahra Oukacha, and Impact Lab and Numa Maroc’s director, Leyth Zniber, have ambitions to grow the scene also - they want to bring back to life the idle Atlas Business Angels.

Earlier this month the World Bank announced the creation of Innov Invest, a $51 million fund that will see $30 million go to Moroccan incubators, associations and business angels. The fund will be managed by the public financial organization Caisse Centrale de Garantie (CCG).

What do you think of the launch of MNF Angels? Will it change the game? The comment section is all yours.

Startups can apply on MNF’s website or via mnfangels@mitccapital.ma.

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