New Work Class trains Morocco's aspiring entrepreneurs

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Each ecosystem has its quirks and setbacks. One of Morocco’s was that it lacked a training program for entrepreneurs outside of the social entrepreneurship scene - those had Dare and Impact Lab

That changed earlier when Numa Casablanca launched its first accelerator program this year and New Work Lab (NWL) launched its entrepreneurship classes and unsurprisingly called New Work Class. Today, the first class graduated.

Launched in partnership with Morocco's OCP Entrepreneurship Network, New Work Class hopes to train 120 entrepreneurs in the next two years. OCP the world’s leading producer of phosphate rock and phosphoric acid.

Until recently, NWL offered coworking, networking, and training events. Each month they organized a Pitch Lab where five entrepreneurs presented their companies to an audience.

“I received a lot of applications for the Pitch Lab with interesting projects,” explained NWL founder Fatim-Zahra Biaz to Wamda. “But entrepreneurs didn’t have the methodology nor the tools to build their projects and turn them into potential startup projects. That’s why New Work Class was launched.”

Nezha El Wafi of Ateliers Make Up, and Yassine Arif of Thewallgames, working hard. (Image via New Work Lab)

The three month program was launched in March 2016 to teach entrepreneurship fundamentals, provide tools to create a company, and offer the necessary network to validate their concept.

For Biaz, one of those priorities was to help aspiring entrepreneurs validate their projects. Many of the founders she met, wasted too much time developing projects that were from the beginning, not viable.

Out of the one hundred applications they received, they picked 12. The first class was special in the diversity of its cohort: some participants were innovating already existing startups, some had SMEs with original concepts, and others were working on a gaming studio.

The participating startups were purposefully at different stages in their businesses. Some were at the idea stage, others had a MVP (minimum viable product) but hadn’t found a fitting market, and others already had some sales.

Working alongside each other enabled entrepreneurs to exchange ideas and learn from one another, according to Biaz.

Most classes were given on Saturdays to accommodate the founders who were studying or working during the day. 

The companies that graduated this year will present their business progress during the next Pitch Lab in September and are likely to benefit from potential media coverage, as several ideas are original to Morocco and have already proven to be successful.

Some examples from the class include Seaskin, which turns fish skin into leather. Another is L’Atelier Make Up, a shop where women can learn to put on makeup.

Other graduates, Thewallgames and Chronoménage, are also off to a good start. At the beginning of the New Work Class program in March, Chronoménage, a service company connecting individuals will cleaners, had just a few sales per day. Five months later, they have 60 per day.

Thewallgames, a gaming studio, released their first game titled Z7am in June in partnership with telecom operator Inwi. The application was downloaded more than 50,000 times.

Still, it will take time to properly asses the impact of this program.

“The theoric courses were so rich that [...] we didn’t have enough time to try them all,” explained the cofounder of Koolna, a platform for travelers, who asked her name not to be disclosed as she has a full time job. Participants will need time and distance to fully appreciate the impact of the courses, she added.

Applications for the second sessions of New Work Class and Numa Casablanca are taking place in September and October respectively are now open.

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