In Morocco, the freelancing sector has grown considerably in recent years. Many Moroccan professionals are increasingly choosing self-employment as a job for a variety of reasons, mainly, the changes brought by technology today.
One of the leaders and experts in the sector of self employment, Youssef Amakrane, Co-manager of “Freelancer.ma”, a leading enterprise that links freelancers with companies and customers.
1. How is the sector of freelancing in Africa and Morocco? Is it growing?
Freelance in Morocco is booming. In 2014, the financial act granted a new status of auto-entrepreneur to independent freelancers allowing them to benefit from a very advantageous legal status and work in a completely legal framework. It is thanks to this change that Freelancer.ma was able to draw up its development & corporate strategy. This important change in the law encouraged companies, large and small, to hire freelancers legally.
Morocco is somehow a pilot country in Africa on IT. Several African countries, such as Morocco, have embraced the ongoing digital transformation movement. This change of mind-set has made the expertise of freelancers more valuable. The need is growing and freelance resources are becoming more and more used to respond to this change and growing demand.
Egypt, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Senegal are increasingly appreciated by American and European companies for the quality of their freelance skills. Moreover, one of Zuckerberg’s investments, as cited by Forbes, is a Nigerian / Kenyan start-up to train young people on IT skills allowing them to work remotely with large organizations like IBM.
More and more countries are using African freelancers. As stated by the Rockefeller Foundation, freelance activities in Africa have resulted in more than $5 billion in 2016 in income.
As noted during our interview on Africa News, our 4-year experience continues to prove that freelancers are solicited by companies, project developers and even by private individuals in 5 key areas:
- Computer Science (Web Development / Mobile Development / Network)
- Graphic design
- Writing & Translation
3. What are the main difficulties and problems that freelancers face?
Delayed or non-payment by the employer is the #1 concern of freelancers around the world. It is quite common to find freelancers who have experienced this despite all the insurance measures that can be considered. In Morocco, one of the promises of Freelancer.ma is to provide security in payments to protect recruiters and freelancers in their collaborations.
It is also very difficult for freelancers to access expensive certifications to testify to the quality of their skills. Indeed, we noticed that after a few years and we included it in our growth plan. Freelancer.ma has currently issued more than 95 Microsoft Certification exams for free to deserving freelancers.
It must also be said that technical training freelancers, like engineers, unfortunately have weak sales and communication skills. It is difficult for them to approach the recruiters to sell their services or to retain them.
Many freelancers are not trained to manage projects but rather to complete tasks. This is also why we help freelancers develop their project management skills to better achieve their missions.
4. What is needed to boost this growing sector?
What is needed is substantive work. Many young people are unemployed in Africa, while freelance or self-employment is an excellent alternative that pays a lot better. Governments must think about developing the skills of their human capital in order to ensure that they can economically compete against countries like India or China in areas where Africa is still competitive.
The needs and challenges of local businesses should be acknowledged and relevant authorities should try to respond constructively. The government should ensure the needed reforms to guarantee the flexibility as well as protection of the interests of all relevant parties.
Finally, effort is needed in supervising collaborations between recruiters and freelancers. Companies tend to disregard the importance of managing and nourishing the relationship with freelancers. Increased investment in the collaboration between freelancers and recruiters will help build the needed ecosystem for the freelance economy to fully take off and contribute to progress and economic growth.
5. What should freelancers do to be able to compete with large companies?
- Have a quality portfolio to justify the mastery of their skills.
- Have better soft skills to grow relationships with companies.
- Have a sales strategy.
6. What is your main job at freelancer.ma? And what is your future plan?
My mission at Freelancer.ma is to develop freelancers’ infrastructure and ensure the growth of the quality of their skills. I am in direct contact with a lot of freelancers in Morocco and I am getting to know them better.
Freelancer.ma is planning an expansion in Africa in the coming months. We are targeting a presence in Senegal, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Togo and Tanzania in the short term. The goal is to create a unique continental platform that will link recruiters and freelancers from several countries.