Morocco-based edtech Smartprof has secured $50,000 in funding after graduating from the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) Startgate and Plug and Play Morocco startup competition’s third cohort.
Founded in 2021 by Hamza Faiz, Mustapha Faiz and Ali Faouzi, Smartprof offers an on-demand tutoring app for school-aged students.
Aziz El Hachem, North-Africa Director at Plug and Play, commented on the third Batch Expo Day saying that, “This event is an opportunity for us to look back on what’s been done, in the space of the past two years, to enable the local startup scene and pursue our ambitions in building an integrated ecosystem that offers concrete opportunities to local talent.”
Other startups that participated in the Expo Day included edtech Kezakoo, proptech startup Agenz, sustainable mobility solutions provider POGO and Mytindy, a marketplace for local artisans and craftspeople offering handmade products.
SUM6P Startgate and Plug and Play Morocco (PnP) have worked over the past three months on mentoring 12 startups based in Morocco in an effort to boost the country’s emerging startup ecosystem amid local and international concerns of an economic recession and cut in funding.
12 startups pitched their ideas to partners and managers of key venture capital funds present in Africa during the PnP Batch 3 Expo Day in Casablanca.
Aspiring young entrepreneurs and alumni from the first and second batches in April 2021 and March 2022, such as Chari, Jobop, and WafR, attended the event on Wednesday, July 6 to learn about emerging innovative ideas in Morocco and offer their support.
For this expo, the list of selected startups included both newly founded and relatively established startups that provide digital innovations in the fields of education, health, real estate, retail, and tech industry, with a particular focus on the themes related to the development of smart cities.
It featured ed-tech startups Smart Prof and Kezakoo, craftsmanship-focused startup MyTindy, sustainable mobility solution POGO, and real-estate e-platform Agenz.
Smart Prof, the winner of the Startgate and PnP Batch 3, received $50,000 for their creative tutoring marketplace, which connects K-12 students with tutors pursuing higher education.
For his part, Yassine Laghzioui, Head of Entrepreneurship and Venturing at UM6P, noted that the Benguerir-based university is “trying to position Morocco and Africa at the forefront of technology and innovation.”
“We are putting the present challenges of the African continent as the pillars of our mission statement,” Laghzioui added, as he pointed out that food security, sustainable exploitation of natural resources, digital inclusion, and access to health care are the main challenges burdening the continent’s development.
Placing “innovation for Africa” at the center of UM6P’s work, Laghzioui noted that the continent must address additional issues related to the development of the continental startup ecosystem, such as the lack of capital, the dominance of fragmented markets, the lack of quality education, and weak infrastructure.
Throughout the expo day, the 12 startups expressed interest in expanding their operations towards Western Africa, particularly Francophone Africa, which marks a clear shift within the Moroccan entrepreneurship sector that used to be directed towards Europe.
Still, the entrepreneurs must maintain a “balance power dynamic” between themselves and the investors, which calls for the diversification of investment funds, argued Yamawaki.
As the 12 startups dive deeper into the Moroccan startup ecosystem with the aspiration of becoming one day a Moroccan unicorn, a startup valued at $1 billion, PnP reminded new aspiring Moroccan entrepreneurs with creative ideas to apply for Batch 4 before September 15, 2022.