In Algiers, business leaders are asserting themselves by favouring an economic model that is more oriented towards human relations and the sharing of skills. Focusing on these initiatives allows them to build a professional network while developing their business.
By Zahra Rahmouni, in Algiers
Few people rush to the aisles of the Mohammedia Mall shopping and business center. The place in the east of the capital is strangely quiet. On the floors, most of the premises are closed, while others are rented by companies that take advantage of low rent, says Mohamed Islem Ayad.
The manager of ISCompany, made an appointment with us at The Address, a coworking space that he regularly uses as his offices. In a mixture of English and Arabic. His friend Marouan Aoudia, creator of the place, summarizes his project in three words: “connect, collaborate, create”.
The entrepreneur with an atypical profile grew up between Algeria and the USA and already has substantial managerial experience in several countries of the Middle East and North Africa.
Formerly in charge of Pepsi Algeria, he dropped everything and used his savings to open the first Algerian coworking space in February 2016 after having discovered the concept in the United States. “We have a coworking area, meeting rooms and you have to know how to balance it all. When I started, I was more betting on the coworking space when with time I noticed that there were more demands for meeting rooms. So I adapted,” he explains.
A little more than a year after its launch, the 250 m² space with its warm design welcomes all types of profiles, from the provincial entrepreneur who regularly travels to Algiers to conduct interviews with the hypnotist who rents a room for occasional visits. Students, lawyers and young entrepreneurs like Mohamed Islem Ayad also benefit from the concept.
This lawyer by training started his bartering business in 2016. Since then, its Iscomarket platform has employed two other people and has “45 memberships with five to seven exchanges per month”.
According to him, The Address removes many constraints. “We’re start-ups, we’re getting started. So, to avoid investing too much money in rental or office furniture, we use this place. The advantages are twofold : economic and network related. This is because the space allows oneto meet new people, including other entrepreneurs.
His own company also fosters exchanges between professionals who have a different vision of trade and who do not always want to put their cash flow at risk. Its inter-company barter system, unprecedented in Algeria, allows both simultaneous and deferred exchange.
Among the transactions carried out, he cites as an example a delivery and transport company that offers its services to a restaurant chain against regularly supplied meal trays. If he had stayed in a classic entrepreneurial pattern, perhaps the restaurateur would have asked for another transport provider», while having to pay for the service in cash.
In this context of economic crisis characterised by a depreciated dinar. Mr Ayad emphasizes that this system is interesting for “entrepreneurs who want to keep cash and who would like to have an economic alternative to meet the development and operational needs of their activities”.
The young entrepreneur believes strongly in his bartering project. The advantage of the inter-company exchange is that it creates a collaborative economy between structures that want to save on their cash flow because they don’t have a lot of cash and have know-how – a service that doesn’t cost them as much as buying directly in cash. It also creates a collaborative community and serves to pool equipment, », he further explains. Marouan Aoudia used the process. The Address proposed to a freelance graphic designer to use his space in counterpart this one designed the graphic publications intended for his social networks “, explains Ayad. The business plan is simple: Iscomarket recovers between 5 and 9% of the price of the total value of the services exchanged. A win-win ratio that allows the company Iscomarket to recover a commission of 5 to 9% on the value of the exchange. To ensure that its business is secure, Mohamed Islem carefully selects its members and submits them to a legal clause. Freelancers deposit a bail cheque to ensure that no one disappears after receiving a service, especially in the case of a deferred exchange” explains the contractor.
The e-payment could certainly make his project easier, but while waiting for its use to be generalized, he does so with the means at his disposal. As a young entrepreneur, he nevertheless regrets the cumbersome nature of the administration, particularly with regards to “domiciliation, access to finance and taxation”. A final point that he considers very heavy on the business climate in Algeria because it slows down the entrepreneurial dynamics “especially for companies that cannot afford to have their accounting department or to move to tax revenue each month with a long waiting period”, says Mohamed Islem Ayad.
“There are difficulties but Algeria is a land of opportunity. I can see them. I chose coworking but there are many other sectors where I want to go “, says Marouan Aoudia. He is already contemplating the creation of two more coworking spaces, one in Oran in the west and the other in Annaba in the east, and is pleased to count six success stories», thanks to The Adress. To prove it, he invites us to a higher floor to visit the Almas offices. After several months of airport training at The Address, the manager has now moved to his own premises. We started at The Address and now we’re making at least four times our initial sales,” he says.