Starting a business in Morocco has many benefits. Investing in Morocco is beneficial to the economy and providing employment opportunities for locals is needed in a country with a high demand for jobs. But what does starting a business actually entail?
This is not a “how to start a business in Morocco step, by step” blog. As a foreigner who has started their own business in Morocco, these are some helpful tips and guidelines. Hopefully, they will emphasize on the important aspects and help you set your expectations appropriately when you start a business in Morocco.
Have a good accountant (a.k.a. comptable)
When you’ve decided on the business you want to start in Morocco, your first step is to find a good accountant, or what they refer to here in French as a “comptable”. I cannot stress how important it is to work with a good accountant.
What does the accountant do? The accountant helps you step by step throughout the process. From helping you write your statutes to submitting your paperwork to the court, they are a very important piece of this challenging puzzle.
Language isn’t always a benefit. Our friends opened a language center and hired a very expensive English-speaking accountant. They paid an extremely high fee and experienced some very significant issues with their paperwork, because it was not done properly. After hiring a cheaper accountant, they found out that within their statutes their language center was classified as a “hair salon”. They also had to delay their opening because of not having proper licensing – again, the responsibility of the accountant.
It’s easy to depend on language to determine who you work with. Communication is important, I get it. But, it’s often worth it to hire an accountant that comes highly recommended and working with a third party, like American Motif, to help you with communication if there is a language barrier.
Make sure your paperwork is done right the first time. Ask around the expat and local community before hiring an accountant.
An office space is necessary
This is another very important detail to be aware of when you start a business in Morocco. Your business has to have a location. Unlike the U.S., your home address will not suffice as your business address. Even if it is just you starting the business, your business in Morocco must have an official office location.
There are ways around this of course, but not always a very ethical or technically legal option. I would recommend two legal options.
This first option is to use the office address of your accountant. You can legally use the address of your accountant for about a year. This gives you time to find a location at your desired price. If you’re in a rush to complete your paperwork, this also saves you some time. The downside is that when you go to change your address, you’ll have to pay a fee to redo your paperwork, cashet and pay your accountant’s fees. These are all things you could have avoided in the first place.
The second option is a shared office space. Depending on the city, there may be quite a few office sharing locations. These can come at a much cheaper rate and actually gives you the opportunity to work from an actual office location. In the times of COVID, space may be limited or it might not be the most ideal option to work in close proximity to others. However, this could lead to some great networking opportunities you might not otherwise experience.
Having an office space is great for productivity and the chance to network, so try to look at it as a positive opportunity rather than an annoyance. Hopefully this will help you start your business in Morocco off with a positive perspective on this technicality.
Create multiple business names
As with anywhere in the world, your business in Morocco needs a name. Coming up with a business name can be a lot of work – but once you’ve found that perfect name, it’s all worth it. Well, try not to get too attached.
One of the first things your accountant will ask you for, is a list of 3 to 5 business names. You will list them in order from your number one choice to your last choice. Your accountant will then apply for the first name to see if it is available and to get approval. If your first choice is rejected for either of these reasons, your accountant will move on to the second name and so on and so forth.
A lot of waiting around
One of the main activities you will be doing when you start a business in Morocco is a lot of waiting around and standing in line. Yes, you read that correctly. You will wait for your accountant to complete their tasks and get back to you. You will wait for your papers to be approved and accepted by the court. You will wait in line to have documents legalized, translated and submitted.
Just expect that you will spend a good majority of your time waiting around. This may feel discouraging and like a waste of time, but you are moving forward even if it feels like you’re at a standstill. My best advice is to submit to the process. Thankfully, you should only have to do this once time.
Do your research first
One of the best pieces advice we were given, was to come to Morocco first before starting our business in Morocco. Even if you own a chain of successful businesses, you still have to conduct market research in different cities or countries before opening a new location.
We lived in Tangier for a year, consulting on different projects while conducting our own market research. We wanted to see if our business idea would work in Morocco first, before investing. We spent time learning about the culture, the business market and adjusting to the language.
After a year, we launched our business in Morocco with confidence and assurance knowing we’d done our homework.
This is a huge investment of your time and resources. In our experience, we’ve found it to be well worth it and the most important thing we did.