Catalyzing Creative Business Ideas in Morocco

Nov 23, 2020

Morocco’s Marrakech-Safi region is a hub of creativity and innovation, yet many young entrepreneurs struggle to turn their passions into profitable businesses. They often lack formal business training and are unsure where to access needed support. Without insight into how to best market their products and services, access financing and networks, and develop strong business plans, their businesses often experience limited growth or failure.

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Consider Ranya Laaouane. In 2018, Ranya finished her master’s degree, determined to use her knowledge of environmental management to launch a company. With her colleague, Jaouad Lakhouaja, she started a business focused on pest control called Hygiène Pro Services. Even though Hygiène Pro offered unique products and services, the business struggled.

In 2019, Ranya was connected to the Al-Rawabet project. Implemented by the Near East Foundation (NEF) and funded by the U.S. Department of State Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Al-Rawabet helps high-potential enterprises become sustainable, profitable businesses.

Ranya worked with Al-Rawabet to conduct a review of her business, which helped her identify key challenges and make a plan for growth.

A CACHE OF CREATIVITY

Al-Rawabet takes a unique approach to preparing businesses for long-term growth and success, working with entrepreneurs to unlock their potential and build their business, while also developing the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.

Business training, coaching, and networking opportunities are crucial for entrepreneurs, helping them access new financing, markets, and clients. Through Al-Rawabet, NEF has reached more than 250 entrepreneurs in Morocco’s Marrakech-Safi region. The team also identified more than 50 small businesses, with especially high growth potential, to receive catalytic support that addresses their specific barriers to growth. These businesses with “gazelle-potential” spanned a wide range of industries, including information technology, construction, environmental management, crafts, and cosmetics.

HYGIENE PRO SERVICES

An Al-Rawabet assessment found that Hygiène Pro needed support to secure certifications, develop order forms, and create a marketing plan. NEF helped Hygiène Pro organize a first anniversary event, where Ranya was able to present the business’s services to 60 representatives from local restaurants, hotels, and other businesses to attract new clients. NEF also worked with Hygiène Pro to redesign its marketing materials and provided one-on-one training on marketing strategies and techniques to reach potential clients.

Based on this support, Hygiène Pro secured new service contracts with four tourist establishments in Essaouira and two food-canning factories.

In response to COVID-19 and the health measures instituted by authorities, Hygiène Pro has expanded its services to respond to current needs. It offers full disinfection services, approved by the Moroccan Ministry of Health, for businesses reopening after the lockdown in Morocco. Despite the challenging economic times, Hygiène Pro has seen business growth and the addition of many new clients.

BE ARTISAN

Be Artisan produces organic oils and cosmetics. Fatima Zahra El Zouggari, who founded the company in 2017, was working to modernize her brand and grow her market when she was introduced to Al-Rawabet.

Fatima needed support to develop a business plan and improve the company’s marketing, particularly online. Through one-on-one coaching, NEF helped Be Artisan develop a professional business plan and redesign its communication materials. Fatima was able to participate in networking activities organized through the project and make connections that have helped her develop her business.

“Market access and marketing our products were major challenges for our business,” Fatima said. “But with the support of the Al-Rawabet project, in terms of coaching, networking, and training, we’ve reached new clients and new markets.”

With this support, Fatima redesigned the Be Artisan boutique and developed an e-commerce storefront to sell her products. She signed five new commercial contracts, with a value of 78,000 MAD (7,800 USD). Be Artisan’s profits grew 50%, reaching 360,000 MAD (36,000 USD) in 2019. Fatima has since been able to recruit one part-time and two full-time employees.

MYRATHES

A team of dieticians created Myrathes in 2017, driven by their shared passion for local and natural cosmetic products and inspired by their training in phytotherapy and aromatherapy. The women worked together to develop a line of unique natural cosmetic products.

While they succeeded in creating new products, their business struggled. After an introduction to Al-Rawabet, the Myrathes team began participating in training and coaching activities, including a five-session masterclass on calculating sales prices and profit margins. With this additional knowledge, they were better able to price their products to ensure that each sale earned a profit. Myrathes grew their profit by nearly 30% in 2019, and in the first six months of 2020, they exceeded their 2019 profit.

NEF also coached Myrathes on the development of a marketing strategy using the “Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning” methodology.

After opening new storefronts in the old Medina and in Lazouziya, Myrathes saw a nearly 30% increase in profits and was able to recruit two new team members. Within the first six months of 2020, they too have already surpassed their 2019 profits.

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