Impact Journalism Day 2017

Young Moroccans change lives with crowdfunding

TakaFull is a mobile application that allows citizens to donate money to projects by converting unused mobile credit into value.

TakaFull is a mobile application that allows citizens to donate money to projects by converting unused mobile credit into value.  

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Access to funding is vital for young Moroccan companies. Two young men have recently developed an application that enables projects to get financed by crowdfunding in an innovative way: by converting unused mobile phone credit into value.

The advent of digital technology has opened windows onto a vast array of new opportunities. The finance sector is one part of the picture. The meteoric rise in crowdfunding, which allows an entrepreneur to raise funds from the donations of private individuals, has taken many countries by storm. Some estimates have predicted the industry to be worth around 1,000 billion dollars by 2020! Countries around the world are getting on board, with the USA leading the way. It all started when Michael Sullivan created a buzz around the term in 2006 with the launch of his blog Fundavlog. Initially limited to artists and associations, crowdfunding eventually opened up to companies following the enactment of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act in 2012, responsible for the expansion of this new industry. In Morocco, many are eager to see the implementation of a long-awaited legal framework to govern the sector. Until now, law 004.71 has prevailed, forbidding appeals to public generosity with quid pro quo donations allowed only to registered foundations. It is urgent that the government authorities address this issue, in order to boost entrepreneurship in the Kingdom, since the most efficient of these platforms operating around the world are those that benefit from regulation that is favorable towards them.

In this context which has yet to be clarified, two young Moroccans, currently towards the end of their Master's degree in finance, have launched their own project, under the name TakaFull. Their innovation is a mobile application that links entrepreneurs to those who offer to contribute funding. Co-founder Omar Tolai explains: "The idea came to us when we realized that many of our friends living in our deprived neighbourhood are unemployed.” These ambitious students decided to capitalize on a combination of digital opportunity, the high number of cellphone users in Morocco and the growing demand for self-employment. "Crowdfunding is the first step,” Tolai continues. “It’s something we would like to expand from young social entrepreneurs to artists, while also working on crowdsourcing". The latter trend puts to good use the creativity, intelligence and know-how of subcontractors, creating a collaboration between those with these external skills and fledgling entrepreneurs looking for guidance and talent. Needless to say, the TakaFull project has established a solid long-term plan.

Springboard to success

The two founders, Omar Tolai and Mohammed Yassin Kamel, had barely started out their campaign when they were immediately spotted and offered support with their endeavors. Last year, they came 4th in the "Solve For Tomorrow" competition, organized by Samsung Electronics Morocco and Enactus Morocco, an event aimed at encouraging ideas for the improvement of people’s lives and the development of solutions by young entrepreneurs using technology (Internet, cellphone etc…). Today, they are working on their graduation project, leaving the TakaFull application on standby for the time being. "We have everything we need to get started, supplier contracts and mentors, but we are still looking for a developer who would like to get involved in this adventure." Tolai remarks that the team’s objective is to finance 410 projects in 3 years via the application, according to their “most conservative estimate”.

Crowdfunding is offering an extremely simple way of avoiding the well-trodden path of banking, and is proving to be especially useful for young Moroccan companies struggling to find funding. These two young students have managed to hatch out a plan of their own, allowing for a single click to jumpstart the entrepreneurial ambitions of their fellow citizens, perhaps initiating the rise of this type of Financing 2.0 in Morocco as they go about it.

How-to guide

TakaFull is a mobile application that connects contributors to young entrepreneurs who find it difficult to acquire the appropriate funding. Users simply select one or more projects from a menu and read the detailed descriptions and contribution history. Once the choice has been made, the contributor funds the project via SMS credit that is converted into monetary value. This text messaging service has a unit value of 15 DH (about 1.5 euros). While half the amount goes directly to the selected project creators, 8.33% goes to TakaFull, and the remainder is dealt to the operators and service providers. The idea of ​​converting unused mobile phone credit into money had been proposed at the beginning of the project. But after market analysis, operators are no longer authorizing this option.

https://www.facebook.com/TakaFull2016/

(This article was originally published in L’Économiste)

 

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:12:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/specials/impact-journalism-day-2017/young-moroccans-change-lives-with-crowdfunding/article19126314.ece

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