Many challenges have been facing Moroccan entrepreneurs and these challenges are amplified for scientists and researchers. Scientific endeavors typically require resources that are generally cost prohibitive to any entrepreneur starting out, but especially to students. Valuable assets such as prototyping equipment, experimentation, subject matter expertise and validation tools to create a minimally viable product have been inaccessible to these entrepreneurs until now.
These resources are made available through Explorer, a program developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sandbox Innovation Fund. This program is available to university students and researchers. It gives these future innovators and entrepreneurs access to seed capital, financial resources, world-class labs and mentorship by a broad network of world-renowned experts.
In an effort to expand our shared vision with other local and national universities, UM6P Ventures has recently signed agreements with two additional universities in Morocco (Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane and Cadi Ayyad University). University entrepreneurs will be able to leverage early seed capital as their business endeavors move from projects to actual startups.
We recently had the chance to meet with Manal Mhada -co founder of Amendy Foods- a UM6P Ventures portfolio company to discuss their experiences while participating in the Explorer program. “The most important things we were able to take advantage of beyond capital were networking opportunities, mentorship and legal, business and financial advice during the office hours with experts,” she said.
The program is now running its third cohort with 121 teams including 40 from our partner universities. Through the “Learning by Doing” pedagogy, Explorer offers a practical, accessible and personalized experience. It gives entrepreneurs better customer insights to further understand their customers’ needs. Given the multi-faceted nature and unprecedented limitations imposed by the COVID-19 crisis, the Explorer program had successfully launched three remote cohorts where the teams have made great progress and were able to connect with potential angel investors and venture capital.
We are thrilled to continue to support startups emerging from both the private and public education sector. With the help of our university partners the future looks brighter every day. Be on the lookout for upcoming UM6P Venture partnerships that will continue to develop further entrepreneurial growth in Africa.