[Interview] Hayat Essakkati, Director, Maroc4Invest, Morocco
Hayat Essakkati is a Dutch/Moroccan entrepreneur and Director of Maroc4Invest, a company that secures foreign investors a smooth and efficient entry into the Moroccan market.
Could you introduce your company?
Maroc4Invest was founded in 2015, and assists global players (investors, NGOs, international organizations) with every single step of starting-up and running their operations in Morocco.
Foreign investors often are looking to enter the African market using similar methods as entering the European or American market. As a Dutch/Moroccan, I needed to adapt to the local business environment as well. We assist foreign investors to find local partners who understand the Moroccan market. We see to it that they have a seamless experience and that all their local business needs are met. Specifically, Maroc4invests offers meeting packages (introductions to partners / suppliers/ buyers), regulatory services and market studies in addition to the organization of logistical needs on-the-ground.
After having dealt with potential foreign investors traveling to Morocco for the last 4 years, we saw there was a gap. In order to reach not only large organizations but also international SMEs, we developed a digital solution allowing foreign companies to have access to local stakeholders, security and structure while expanding their business in Africa. It will be the first online platform especially dedicated to traveling foreign investors. We launch in March.
Where is Maro4invest located?
73, Boulevard d’Anfa, 7th floor, Casablanca, Morocco
Who are your clients?
Mostly international companies, international financial institutions, funds but also Moroccan companies looking to expand towards Europe/ USA.
What are the company’s USPs?
Our digital solution is an integration of services meeting foreign investors’ primary business needs in Africa: 1) access to local networks 2) structure/ security
Allowing foreign investors to organize their trip AND being introduced to curated networks through large local databases and an intelligent b2b matching platform. This is the first online platform offering the full supply chain of foreign investors' needs in Africa through our software: travel, logistics, networks and data.
The saying “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” is especially true when doing business in Africa. We make sure you are prepared.
Efficient entry in to an African country. Safety is an issue, and even if it isn’t in real life, it might still be an issue to the foreign investor coming to explore business opportunities in the African continent.
Cheap market entry. Many foreign investors, SMEs, organizations, etc. spend exceeding amounts on multiple business trips to Africa before finding, if any, specific business opportunities and partners. With our solution, these costs are reduced to one business trip in which they find the right partners and business opportunities before signing the deal on their second trip.
Continuity. As many foreign investors have experienced, entering a foreign market is very different from surviving or even thriving in that particular market. Our representation subscriptions provide for follow up representation ranging from legal/ financial to governance matters.
Trust Argument. Unfortunately, Africa is a continent that most people outside of the continent don’t know much about. Our services are based on trust as we ensure that our databases are subject to a high level of due diligence from both ends: foreign investors and local partners.
As part European yourself, how prepared would you say Europeans coming to do business in Africa are?
With Maroc4Invest, I learned that there was a real demand for on-the-ground support for logistics and introductions to local key players. I organized business trips for clients and ensured a seamless experience from arrival to departure. During this learning process, our digital solution was naturally born as our clients had many little requests during their trip and would have benefited from a service especially tailored to the business trip and getting as much value out of it as possible. In most of the cases, the client didn’t know the objectives of their business trip or they weren’t able to specify them at lengths. It was our job to understand their mission and to understand how they could add value to the country while expanding their operations. We organize their ideas and plans of their clients, build a solid market entry plan and create the networks around it to make them reality.
What are the growth plans for Maroc4invest as a company?
We're working toward the successful launch of the digital solution in Morocco before expanding to Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Rwanda and Ethiopia. This year we will focus on the Moroccan market and we envision the launch in Cote d’Ivoire at the end of 2019.
What does the company need to grow and prosper?
The platform relies on local/ international partners, local suppliers but also presence in client markets such as the US, Europe and Asia. We are also looking to raise funding 6 months after the launch.
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