Algeria is banking on its innovative start-ups to boost its economy, and more and more entrepreneurs are starting out, sometimes with very big ambitions.
This is the case of a transport service already present in several countries in the region. Yassir is a pioneer of the VTC (Transport Car with Driver) in this country where the company was founded in 2017 by two childhood friends. Five years later, it claims in Algeria, 6 million users and more than 40,000 partner drivers.
The group, which raised US$ 30 million last year, already offers its services in the Maghreb, West Africa, Europe and Canada. It employs over 650 people worldwide, many of them in Algiers.
“Yassr is the first to launch VTC in Algeria and after that there was competition, it even created a VTC market in Algeria”, explains Abdelhadi Kada, the company’s teleconsultant. “Many positions have been created and there are only young people here”, points, showing us the people who work with him.
This company is the tree that hides a forest of young technology companies, gradually freed from bureaucratic constraints and encouraged to take risks. The number of labeled startups has doubled this year. Everyone knows Argeria Venture, a public accelerator that helps project leaders scale, fundraise and export their solutions.
“We do open innovation, that is, we give them the means to access markets and companies that they often saw as closed silos.” says Sid Ali Zerrouki, its general manager. “Today, we enable them to access these companies with solutions so that they can knock on their door, solve their problems and have purchase orders, markets”, he points.
It is at Argeria Venture’s premises that start-ups are labeled. On site, technology players can come together to establish synergies.
“The ecosystem is there”
The Beyn company is a reflection of the Fintech sector in Algeria: in expansion. It offers its solutions to large national and international banking groups and has launched itself in the transfer of money between individuals.
“Our business needs start-ups to complete its offering and until now I didn’t really have access to these people, maybe they did exist, but they were hidden,” highlights Reda Benbouzid, its CEO. “Today, we see them, they are there, the ecosystem is there and the communication channels are becoming more and more well established.” he congratulates himself.
This improved communication also involves conferences organized across the country. It is in one of them that the young Aïcha Chaabna was noticed. Born in Batna, she bets on the circular economy: from skins recovered from slaughterhouses, she plans to produce halal animal gelatine for the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors.
“We had the opportunity to be “accelerated” at Argeria Venture and we do training there to develop our “soft skills”, convince partners and gain visibility”, says Aïcha Chaabna, co-founder of Algélata. “It really helps us as business leaders,” she guarantees.
A new regulatory framework
To unleash an economy long dependent on hydrocarbons, Algeria created a ministry for start-ups, a first in the region.
Yacine el Mahdi Oualid, a 29-year-old former startup, is at the forefront. He is one of the most influential young Africans of the year, according to Forbes magazine.
“We started by putting in place a regulatory and legal framework conducive to the development of start-ups”, says the young minister. “This framework allows them today to benefit from considerable tax advantages”, he continues. “These efforts have also led to profound reforms in Algerian regulations, laws to enable young project leaders to raise funds more easily, have much healthier relationships with their investors, raise international funds and export their services,” he added. he lists.
“Algeria, future Mecca for new technology enthusiasts”
According to Yacine el Mahdi Oualid, there are great development prospects for Algerian start-ups in Africa.
“The African market is huge and growing”, he believes. “For many sectors like Fintech, it is the fastest growing market in the world and it is the natural market for Algeria.” it guarantees before adding: “We want the youth of today to be the champions of the economy of tomorrow, to allow Algeria to position itself as an essential pole of new technologies in Africa and for Algeria, which was in the past the Mecca of revolutionaries, to be the Mecca of enthusiasts of new technologies and allows start-ups to develop in Africa.”
At the end of the year, Algeria will organize the first edition of Africa Disrupt, a fair that will bring together the main continental players in innovation.