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It may be a generalization to say that many Moroccans are born entrepreneurs, so it is no surprise that the start-up ideas coming out of the small kingdom are second to none, as young innovators aim to find solutions to societal challenges – finding a doctor, sustainable housing solutions, providing new markets for artisans, and more. Start-up challenges are appealing and many of the teams behind the start-ups noted below are not only award-winning, but also leaders in their field. We’ve selected five Moroccan start-ups to look out for.
Founded in 2014, the team at DabaDoc aims to help hundreds of thousands of doctors in their target markets reach patients more efficiently, to help millions of patients by democratizing access to healthcare and to level the playing field in this health marketplace.
To do so, the team has developed disruptive technology, allowing instant doctor appointment bookings by streamlining the patient-doctor relationship. While the biggest challenge the team faces is changing mind-sets, the platform was launched to help democratize access to healthcare and is now the largest online booking platform for doctors in Africa, with more than one million patients and thousands of doctors. In fact, this innovative and integrated platform is present in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Nigeria and South Africa (Beta test).
DabaDoc has won several competitions and has been selected to major events in the world, including the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2016, and was one of ten startups from the MENA region participating in the Aspen-Blackstone program in the Silicon Valley in January 2015.
Founded by Youness Ouazri (civil engineer) and Mustapha El Bahraoui (hydraulics engineer), Eco-Dome Maroc aims to provide a unique and original concept of sustainable, stable and cheaper constructing methods in Morocco. After all, the duo feel the world is one in which reinforced concrete is harming the environment, a world in which cities are devouring everything in their way and expanding at the expense of green spaces. On top of that, they state in an email, the building sector consumes around 30 per cent of Morocco’s energy resources, which results in the cost of constructing a home surpassing the purchase capacity of most people.
Enter Eco-Dome, where cheap and eco-friendly materials – like rammed earth (providing thermal and sound insulation), bags and barbed wire – are required. Furthermore, each dome is equipped with water and electricity. In fact, the technique is simple: the bags are filled with rammed earth, put in a spherical form until they reach the top, and the layers are attached to each other using barbed wire.
For their efforts, the team have won first prize in CleanTech Open Morocco Competition, representing the country in the international final in Silicon Valley, was winner of Bridge Program of MassChallenge Accelerator, having taken part as Moroccan delegates in MassChallenge Boston, and was awarded first prize in the Enactus Moroccan National competition, representing Morocco in the international finals in Toronto, Canada.
Relatively new to the start-up landscape, Maria Noufsani started Artinoo to bridge the gap between artisans working in Morocco – leather smiths, thuya woodcarvers, potters and more – and the international community online. By providing the modern marketing know-how, Noufsani is taking the product to the client rather than having the artisans wait for tourists in the souks, especially important in a time when there is a decline in tourism numbers. With social engagement at the heart of the enterprise, Noufsani hopes to not only provide fair wages and safe working conditions, but to increase the respect for the artisans who choose to work with their hands rather than technology or in office settings.
With the job application process consuming significant amounts of time for hiring managers, recruiters and human resources professionals, the team behind jobi.ma aims to use technology to connect employers and qualified job-seekers automatically, based on complex matching and profiling algorithms. The platform combines sophisticated UX/UI, self-learning intelligence and Big Data, with the most comprehensive categorization of job types, skills, and similar job cross-references.
Once in Jobi, recruiters only need to post a job to get a ranking of the best-predicted candidates, whilst candidates don’t have to be on the website to apply. The algorithms do it instead and notify the job seekers of activity on their profile. This provides applicants with feedback on their profile to assist them with the job-search process.
As a result, the algorithms save time, money, effort and energy by automatically suggesting the most suitable candidates. The team then gathers structured data, including advanced analytics and metrics, to find solutions to help reduce unemployment and to increase employability.
The platform has been tested over a four-week period by five Fortune 500 companies and 17 of the top 100 companies in Morocco. The team is now in the final stage of a series of business and innovation interviews to receive certification from the Ministry of New Technologies in Morocco.
The team is comprised of Abdelmouttalib Garmes CTO, Alena Kobernik CMO, Hafed Aziz CEO, Youssef Lamlihe COO and has been selected as one of the 100 nominees (of 3,500 applicants in total) to participate in Startup Istanbul, the biggest startup event in Eurasia.
Tayeb Sbihi and Ali Echihabi co-founded iTaxi, a taxi booking application, to help customers book their taxi in advance and track their taxi’s arrival via the application. The duo selected drivers based on their attitude and the type of car. But the cab drivers benefit as well, with customers paying an additional fee for the service and an alert sent to taxi drivers when a request comes in from a nearby customer.
Taxis are often given a negative image, so the team behind itaxi.ma had to prove to customers that the service is safe (customers are provided with their driver’s phone number, car type, and taxi number). From the driver’s side, the developers established a streamlined payment method whereby drivers have a prepaid account and, every time they accept a customer request, itaxi takes its commission from their balance. Once their balance is at zero, they have to refill their account otherwise they can receive no trips.
However, people were not comfortable using an app. So the team introduced a call center that facilitated customer accessibility, while still allowing drivers to receive requests via the app by using its mapping system to reach a customer’s location.
For their efforts, Sbihi and Echibabi have received the Microsoft 4Afrika innovation grant.