The Al-Rawabet project promotes the growth of high-potential companies and invests in the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Safi-Marrakech region, with funding from the United States Department of State Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). A new public-private partnership (PPP) in Safi, Morocco started through Al-Rawabet is providing opportunities for young entrepreneurs to grow and develop their businesses.
In 2018, the Near East Foundation (NEF) and the Maison des Associations established a PPP with the OCP Group (formerly Office Chérifien des Phosphates) and its “act4community” initiative. The OCP group is one of the world’s largest producers of phosphate and Morocco’s largest industrial group. It is working with NEF to integrate small businesses by prioritizing them for contracts when their expertise meets identified needs. OCP typically procures materials and services from large enterprises based in Casablanca or internationally. For the first time in nearly 60 years, OCP is making some of these procurements locally in Safi to contribute to local economic development.
In partnership with OCP, Al-Rawabet supported the development of an online market platform to help small businesses access and apply for procurement opportunities. Small businesses have secured more than 2,600,000 MAD (260,000 USD) in contracts through the platform in the first year.
NEF then provided training and coaching to these businesses on the essentials of bidding to help them successfully apply. The trainings covered topics such as RFP analysis, public markets, health and safety at work, managerial communication, business plan development, and taxes, to build the skillset of small businesses to both apply for and manage procurement contracts. NEF also hosted networking events to encourage synergies and connections between businesses and OCP and provided individualized coaching to businesses to support in the development of their business plans, the presentation of their business, and the submission of offers to open bids.
More than twenty small businesses applied to be suppliers for OCP after working with NEF. In this first months of the project, seven of them secured contracts with OCP.
“NEF has achieved what no one has been able to accomplish in the last three years, opening OCP to the community,” said Youssef, an entrepreneur who participated in these trainings and applied to access an OCP contract.
SOTASAF, an engineering company founded by Mohamed Belhamra in 2017, received a contract for 215,010 MAD (21,500 USD) for a civil engineering project with OCP.
“The Al-Rawabet project helped organize meetings with managers at OCP that introduced us to their needs and expectations,” Mohamed said. “Our business has increased its revenues, professionalized its human resources, and we have improved our standard of living.”
With this support, SOTASAF has increased its profits by 67%, from 36,000 MAD (3,600 USD) in 2018 to 60,000 MAD (6,000 USD) in 2019. The company also hired one additional full-time staff person.
FAMAZO SARL, an engineering company founded by Zouhair Boudaher in 2014, received a contract for 1,033,169 MAD (~$100,000 USD) to install a chain-link fence and iron door.
“My work with the Al-Rawabet project has helped position my business in the market,” Zouhair said. “We have defined and adapted our business plan, and we’ve improved our ability to take on new initiatives and calculated risks.”
FAMAZO saw a 20% increase in profits, from 300,000 MAD (30,000 USD) in 2018 to 360,000 MAD (36,000 USD) in 2019. The company has been able to recruit one additional full-time staff person.
PASSENGER, founded by Abdelhadi Hosni, is a construction company in Safi. It received a contract for the installation of a water and sewage system in an OCP office for 843,840 MAD (~84,300 USD).
“The Al-Rawabet project helped us to improve our management, communication, and develop our entrepreneurial skills,” Abdelhadi said. “We have improved our ability to plan for the future.”
PASSENGER increased its profits by 20% from 2018 to 2019 and was able to recruit two additional full-time and one part-time staff.