Algeria's Startup Ecosytem: Abdellah Mallek Interview

Algerian Startup, Passwordless and much more have been selected for the mentorship and training program. You can see the full list on here.

Algerians are developing their startup ecosystem and growing entrepreneurial spirit. In recent years, the tech events are being organized and the new startups are launched. Although there are some gaps between entrepreneurs and business procedures, ( and also the slow implementation of 3G) some Algerians are now working on interesting startup projects.
We’ve talked with Abdellah Mallek about Algeria’s developing startup culture, Abdellah was one of the organizers of Startup Weekend and BeMyApp events in Algeria, after passing by the first incubator in Algeria, he is currently a contributor for “Wamda” and Co-founder of “Startup Algeria.
AbdellahCan you tell us a little bit about yourself please?
I’m a Young Algerian entrepreneur, and a startups, entrepreneurship and economical development passionate. After many events organization experiences (startups, mobile, IT), and a startup project that failed, I am starting a whole new entrepreneurship adventure! As I’ve always had a huge interest in startup and in their contribution to economy, I am currently working with experienced entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and Europe, and we are building some new projects of startups development in Algeria, involving all interested parties and Algerian ecosystem’s stakeholders. Otherwise, I am having some consultancy activities in digital communication for Algerian companies, and advising some foreign companies/organizations which are interested in entering the Algerian market.
Is there any accelerators in Algeria or VCs? Is there any events being organized for entrepreneurs? What kind of support are given to startups and entrepreneurs in Algeria?
There is actually one public incubator that was founded few years ago by the government, Sidi Abdellah incubator, (with local representation in other cities over the country) aiming to give a boost to local entrepreneurs. Also, some brands are getting interested in startups, like the phone services provider Ooredoo, who launched an annual startup contest at national level, followed by a mentoring program provided by their new accelerator in Algiers.
Some events like Startup Weekend are very popular and are organized very often everywhere in the country. (Annaba, Algiers, Oran, Ouargla…).
What is Wamda, what are you doing in there?
Wamda is the number one entrepreneurship media in MENA region and it’s covering the entrepreneurship activity in the region. My contribution consists of creating some content about Algerian ecosystem, which is fully launching, and not very well known at local and international levels, through some papers, and also presenting what’s happening in the country. Wamda is having in promoting entrepreneurship in Algeria and for the whole region could help to accelerate the development of the ecosystem.
What are the challenges that the Algeria startup ecosystem and Algerian entrepreneurs face from your side?
We are facing some cultural and technical challenges to which we are trying to find solutions.
The first issue we are having is the remaining of some old fashioned thoughts like “startups are made only for – or by- young student or graduates”. There is a real need to popularize the startup/entrepreneurship culture in the country, and I think that we need to see more people with more experience starting a new entrepreneurial adventure
The second real challenge is a technical issue and lack of equipment. We see every day so many startups that could reach real success if only equipment is available.
Also, entrepreneurs are facing very long and difficult administrative procedures before starting their business, and in so many cases this is a sufficient reason to stop all ambitions before even they can start.
Also, the community is losing day by day highly qualified people who choose to leave the country for better horizons. This will lead to a real impoverishment in skills and lack of qualified people who are able to accomplish so many things.
The last, and not the least, problem is fund rising: besides adjusting the existent funding programs, the government is proposing to startups, we need to introduce and popularize the “business angels culture” in Algeria
InsideOut Today |
What are the biggest trend for internet Entrepreneurs in Algeria now?
• Definitely E-commerce without e-payment: everyone is waiting for e-payment but everyone is launching new projects related to e-payment to be ready when it will be available, while most of transactions in Algeria are still made by cash.
• One year after the official launch of the 3G (yeah we were kind of late), Algerian consumption of mobile internet is increasing, and it is expected to increase more with the price drop due to market competition between 3 local providers. For these reasons, I strongly believe that mobile market is a very promising market in Algeria, especially with the lack of mobile content that offers unlimited possibilities for mobile and app creation for local target.
What should be done in Algeria to launch a successful startups, to be a success story? Is there any global projects which were already launched?
The biggest struggle in Algeria is to find the funding, even if the government is supporting entrepreneurship through funding programs that helped a lot of people (funding have reached 100k $ per project and tax advantages), they still aren’t suitable for startup because of many disadvantages, like the slowness of procedures (while we know the time is critical for any product launching). These funding programs aren’t suitable for startup because they are about providing material for startups, and not money, while startups actually need money to hire new talents or go abroad to introduce their products rather than printers, machines and other stuffs.
Goutra, an inventive tool for water consumption monitoring, even if the founder has encountered many troubles at his beginnings, i think that he could go further and even go global
• Passwordless: Password-free authentication platform that allows login to web applications just by scanning QR codes, the project has been selected for Startup Istanbul.

Ouedness is one of the biggest websites in Algeria

What are your favorite startups in Algeria or is there any?
I had the chance to meet many times the startup ioGrow, which is CRM for startups, and every time I have been surprised by the quick and huge evolution of their product, they team work, and more by their global way of thinking and their aim-away spirit. I think that everyone else knowing ioGrow is sharing the same thought about them, and i believe that they could be a real success story that could inspire many others to follow their path.
Also, I think that Ouedkniss, one of the first Algerian websites and one of the biggest speaking in terms of visitors numbers (in Algeria), an announcement site launched in 2006 by 4 students and which knew a huge evolution since then, is going to have an even more biggest evolution once the e-payment will be available, especially when we look to the long way they walked since their early beginning.

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