Morocco is a prosperous, open country with a low tax rate and a large labor force. A truly global economy, international trade makes up 80% of Morocco’s GDP. Like other highly global economies such as Japan or Brazil, Morocco holds exciting opportunities for international companies exploring new markets, although entering successfully has its challenges for global marketing teams.
Morocco is unique in the way that it deeply depends on the interpersonal relationships between business people. Of course, when starting a business anywhere, solid relationships with local contacts in the foreign country are crucial. However, Moroccan rules and norms of professional life can make or break a business partnership and success.
When diving into this promising marketplace, consider the following to ensure effective and scalable growth.
Trust and Respect
In Morocco, interpersonal relationships are important when doing business. This is where your networking skills will matter the most. People tend not do business with someone they do not know. Businesses are built on mutual trust and respect.
Therefore, before abruptly starting a business in Morocco, visit it first. Meet the right people, make connections and build a mutual bond of trust. Comradery is a big part of this professional market.
Cell phones are the primary mode of communication in Morocco. People will respond immediately to a text message or call. However, emails do not get the same attention. Unlike places like the United States, where emails facilitate most business communication, you need to have all of your Moroccan contacts on speed-dial if you expect to reach them efficiently.
But remember that though phones are better communication than emails, personal contact is the best communication method in Morocco.
And always make sure to follow up. This includes for clients and fellow business partners. Some Moroccan professionals may not make a decision until the very last minute, so never hesitate to check in from time to time.
The Moroccan banking system is based on Spanish, French, and Islamic laws, which can complicate trade, M&A deals or other smaller exchanges.
For instance, the system of prepaying for things to get shipped to Morocco is complex. Moroccan companies only prepay 30% of the shipping. The only way a Moroccan company will prepay 100%, is if it’s a purchase/price under 10,000 US dollars.
There are also some issues with transparency in Morocco, which is a cause for concern for most foreign corporations that do business there. Software piracy, for instance, is one of those issues. It also takes a relatively long time for laws and other bureaucratic decisions to be finalized and implemented.
Patience, a robust marketing strategy and prior planning will help you overcome these obstacles so you can access the benefits of entering the Moroccan market.
A Few Things to Avoid
- Don’t talk about foreign policy, unless it’s brought up first by someone else.
- Avoid making comments about the royal family or government; it may offend or confuse your local contacts.
- Morocco is a religious country. Be cautious of your actions while travelling. For example, ordering alcohol when at a business dinner would generally be frowned upon. Only do this if your contact does first or asks you.
- If you are invited to someone’s house or a family function, that is a sign of trust and it would be counterproductive to turn it down. Accepting the invitation is a way of returning the trust they gave you by extending an invitation.
- Avoid being overly aggressive or insistent. This may offend your local contact and ultimately won’t help you to achieve your goals.
Since relationships are extremely important in Morocco, really making sure you are on your best behavior is absolutely necessary to make the right connections. Bad or thoughtless manners can make you appear to be untrustworthy and irresponsible.
Do not rush things, let them flow – a solid, fruitful relationship cannot be manufactured overnight! You don’t have to walk on eggshells, but you should be mindful of your surroundings and exercise a healthy amount of situational awareness before acting or making decisions.
That personal contact is what is really going to get you through the door of the Moroccan market, the rest will come along soon enough.