Startup Maroc is an initiative led by young Moroccans who have managed to reconcile their student and professional obligations with their passion for entrepreneurship to create “the largest community of Moroccan startups and coaches”. Today, more than a passion, it is a full-time “job” which meets a real need and which helps to energize the innovation ecosystem in Morocco, despite the challenges. Behind this community, Zineb Rharrasse, co-founder and managing director of Startup Maroc. For StartupBRICS, it tells the success story of this NGO which has helped to hatch dozens of new companies in new technologies and which brings together many national and international partners through the twenty events that Startup Morocco organizes each year. In total, more than 3,000 young people have been supported since the creation of Startup Maroc. Zoom on this innovative structure, and its future ambitions. By Nouha Hajji, StartupBRICS connector in Casablanca.
Startup Maroc, a bridge between Moroccan students and the world of startups
Since 2014, Startup Maroc, a non-profit organization whose offices are located in the Technopark of Casablanca, works as a permanent structure and organizes competitions every month in the four corners of the country, mainly in universities. For Zineb Rharrasse, “Startup Morocco makes it possible to connect entrepreneurs at different stages of their project. We are working on different programs. The first flagship program we organize is to raise awareness of the creation of startups through the Startup Weekends. Young people have a weekend to create a team startup and convince a jury of professionals. We are in a city every month and we gather up to 200 young people. The potential for innovation is high, these are local problems that we want to solve and young people are most aware of the needs of their region. ”
Startup Weekends move from city to city as part of multiple and varied “Roadshows” within universities, taking the form of a major national tour. This year, for its 4th edition, Startup Maroc roadshow will go through: Rabat, Benguerir, Marrakech, Casablanca, Fez, Agadir, Safi, Oujda, El Jadida and Tangier.
For its 7th stage, the Startup Morocco team will be from June 3 to 5 in Fez at the Cité de l’Innovation. Startup Morocco can count on the support of the OCP Entrepreneurship Network, fertilizer of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the collaboration of the APEFE, Association for the Promotion of Education and Training Abroad through its program ” Min Ajliki ”who supports female entrepreneurship.
International expertise and programs tailored to each target
A flagship event of Startup Morocco organized in October 2015, the StartUp Maroc Championship, a unique acceleration program, allows the best startups to be exposed internationally. Competitions, bootcamps, networking … the Startup Maroc Championship brought together during its last edition no less than 60 startups and mobilized nearly 60 national, international mentors and from the Moroccan diaspora. On the program 7 competitions over two days to select the most beautiful Moroccan technological nuggets.
During this bootcamp, the organizers helped 75 entrepreneurs to refine their value proposition and acquire this international vision which is essential in the digital world.
Startup Maroc has established partnerships with renowned international organizations such as Oasis 500, the first technological accelerator in the MENA region, based in Jordan. Startup Maroc and Oasis 500 have just organized the first edition of Start your Own Business and Entrepreneurship Training Bootcamp in Casablanca from February 14 to 18, 2016.
During this bootcamp, the organizers helped 75 entrepreneurs to refine their value proposition and acquire this international vision which is essential in the digital world. For 5 days, project leaders participated in numerous workshops led by experienced trainers from the Oasis 500 accelerator. This first edition will not be the last given the success of the bootcamp and its strong interest with young entrepreneurs.
Startup Maroc also recently organized the Startup Africa Summit, a flagship event in North Africa with more than 1,500 participants and more than 40 speakers and investors from the African and global tech ecosystem, during which StartupBRICS had the honor of delivering a keynote on startup ecosystems in Africa.
A creative and innovative concept, this summit ended in style with, for the first time in Morocco, the regional final of Get in the Ring: the selected startups were able to participate in the international final of Get In The Ring during the Global Entrepreneurship Congress of Medellin. It is also the Moroccan startup Lik, a mobile application that rewards its users by sending airtime coupons when they watch a video, which won first place for the light weight title of Get In The Ring (“ lightweight category ”), on March 16. This challenge will have attracted more than 5,000 startups from 80 countries.
Encourage “Made in Morocco” social entrepreneurship
Startup Maroc also supports the creation of projects with high social impact. By responding to social needs as with Evaptainers, big winner of the “Futur Agro Challenge Maroc”, and second finalist of the “Agro Challenge International”, competition which supports entrepreneurs operating in the field of Green Business. Evaptainers creates new generation low-tech refrigerators, without electricity, using evaporative cooling techniques. In this context, Evaptainers responds to a real social need and provides an effective solution to combat the electricity deficits still existing in many regions in Morocco and across the African continent.
“Connect Morocco to Africa and Africa to the World”
Multiplying initiatives and competitions, Startup Maroc aims to enhance the attractiveness of the Moroccan ecosystem in its African geographic depth, finally recalls Zineb Rharrasse: “We want to connect entrepreneurs from all over the world to African opportunities. And project leaders who can start to be more interested in Africa, for example by finding in Casablanca a platform for execution through the Moroccan technical, logistical and entrepreneurial ecosystem. ”