Boost for Moroccan tech start-ups
The Maroc Numeric Fund has solid backing and a healthy attitude to risk – good news for bright ideas.
A state-backed Moroccan risk-capital fund focused on technology start-ups has invested €1.8m in the past 18 months in seven companies, opening up a new stream of funding to a nascent industry.
Investments by the Maroc Numeric Fund (MNF), a 100m dirham ($11.7m) fund run by MITC Capital, have included 2m dirhams in March 2012 in mydeal.com, a Moroccan daily deal or 'group buying' website, and 3.9m dirhams in Majalatouki, a web portal for North African women.
MNF has solid backing, from both the state – through MITC, which runs Casablanca's Technopark – and Moroccan banks BMCE, Attijariwafa, the Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion and the Banque Centrale Populaire.
Each has a representative on the investment committee, which has studied 130 applications so far.
"MNF has invented risk capital Morocco. Until its creation, nobody would finance projects through a business plan," said Mohamed Attahri, co-founder of Greendizer, one of the first start-ups to be funded by MNF when it received 5m dirhams at the end of 2010.
Although private-equity funds are well established in Morocco, young companies, particularly in the technology sector, have found it hard to find financing.
"Between now and the end of 2013, our objective is to make 15 investments," explained Ali Bassit, director general of MITC. Most of the start-ups chosen so far have founders with international experience.