Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean



"Project leaders in the South of the Mediterranean have become aware of the opportunity to finance themselves via crowdfunding platforms"

Director of Participatory Finance Afrique Méditerranée (FPAM), Michel Kaluszynski draws up an initial assessment of participatory finance in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Created in July 2014, this association intends to develop an international network around this mode of financing and allow its promotion in particular in the Mediterranean and Africa.

Michel Kaluszynski and FPAM will continue their webinar cycle (photo: DR)
Michel Kaluszynski and FPAM will continue their webinar cycle (photo: DR) In June 2017, during a seminar on participatory financing in Marseille, you indicated that Morocco and Tunisia belonged to the most advanced countries in this field in the southern Mediterranean. Where are we now, almost four years later?

Michel Kaluszynski: In June 2017, FPAM organised an international seminar on "Adapting regulatory frameworks for the adoption of crowdfunding in Africa and the Mediterranean". This working seminar -not public- brought together regulatory authorities from African and Mediterranean countries to share experiences on the implementation of a regulatory framework favourable to the development of crowdfunding and to identify the needs for support in the implementation of national legislative frameworks.
In 2017, Morocco and Tunisia had already expressed a strong interest in crowdfunding and the authorities of both countries had already started institutional work on the establishment of dedicated regulatory frameworks. Indeed, they were among the few on the continent to
the continent to have undertaken such work.
We note today that Morocco and Tunisia have each adopted a draft law favourable to the development of crowdfunding in 2020, which confirms the leadership taken by these two countries in the region in terms of regulation in this field.

"Diasporas play an important role"

Who are the players in the sector in these countries? Are they local, regional or foreign?

A.K.: There has been no precise census of the amounts raised via crowdfunding for projects in Morocco and Tunisia, either locally or internationally (from abroad). It is certain, however, that the amounts have grown exponentially in recent years, thanks in particular to the strong diffusion of this practice on an international scale and to the awareness of project leaders in Morocco and Tunisia of the opportunity to finance themselves via crowdfunding platforms.

The diasporas of both countries also play an important role in both financing local projects and helping certain projects to access foreign platforms. Several platforms have been working in the field for a few years now.
Examples include Cotizi and Wuluj in Morocco, Cha9a9a in Tunisia and Cofundy which covers both countries from Europe.

Has the participatory financing platform developed by the Diafrikinvest programme (coordinated by Anima Investment Network) played its role in attracting diaspora investments to operations in Tunisia and Morocco?

M.K.: Anima / Diafrikinvest have not developed a crowdfunding platform in the strict sense of the word, but in three countries they have developed an information or matchmaking platform. In Tunisia, the platform brings together the financing mechanisms in a single
online space. In Morocco, it puts the Moroccan diaspora in contact with entrepreneurs. In Senegal, it provides information on business creation and puts entrepreneurs and experts in contact.

Two laws passed in Tunisia and Morocco

What is the status of legislation in these two countries? How is participatory financing regulated?

M.K.: In Tunisia, the law n°2020-37 on crowdfunding was unanimously adopted by the Assembly of People's Representatives on 21 July 2020. In Morocco, the House of Representatives adopted the draft law N°15-18 on crowdfunding on 11 February 2020. The implementing decrees in Morocco and Tunisia are still being prepared and are expected to come into force for these two laws.

These laws provide a framework for the three activities of crowdfunding: donations, loans and investment in financial securities. Although these texts are considered a necessary step for the development of the sector, they risk restricting the development of the players or limiting the impacts of this new mode of financing. Indeed, crowdfunding platforms in both countries, for example, will only be able to offer one mode of financing and in Tunisia crowdfunding will only be accessible to for-profit projects.

What about Algeria?

M.K.: The Algerian Commission for the Organisation and Supervision of Stock Exchange Operations (Cosob) is preparing a regulation that will govern the operation of crowdfunding platforms in Algeria.
The regulatory framework for the exercise of crowdfunding activity in Algeria will come into force as soon as the Cosob regulation is published in the official gazette. Several platforms are already working in Algeria, for example: Chriky
and Ninvesti.

"Exchange of good practices between peers"

What is your assessment of the webinar organised by FPAM on 18 March 2021 on the "conditions to be achieved for a powerful development of crowdfunding in Morocco and Tunisia"?

M.K.: FPAM's intention was to bring together committed players (regulators, operators, ecosystem managers) from two target countries that are pioneers in terms of overhauling their regulations, and a few others from the Mediterranean-African area.
We wanted to take stock and start an exchange of good practices and questions "between peers", all with the objective of contributing to a powerful change.

FPAM's proposal was very well received with over 100 registrants and between forty and fifty people online simultaneously during the webinar. The actors most involved in supporting projects, developing territories and dealing with challenges (economic, social, environmental, etc.) perceive the stakes of crowdfunding and its interest, which has been further increased by the health crisis.
The dynamics initiated in Morocco and Tunisia are also inspiring for other African countries, whose representatives have registered. The interest in international exchanges was clearly appreciated. This webinar made it possible to identify and mobilise key witnesses in each of the categories, to obtain a significant number of registrations, to verify the motivation of the participants in the virtual meeting, to extract the first lines of content to be dealt with during a future major public event, of the type that FPAM organised in Tunis (2016) and Dakar (2018).

"We want to organise a large face-to-face event as soon as possible"

What will be the follow-up to this webinar?

M.K.: This success gives us duties. We must continue to accompany the exchanges and reflections and respond as best we can to requests for content, with a clear objective: to obtain, in the words of the title of the webinar, "a powerful development of crowdfunding".

In the short term, we want to reproduce, improve and multiply the "webinar format" by organising a general 2-hour webinar every six months, based on the model of the one held on 18 March and extending it to several countries (current or future regulations, operator platforms, examples of concrete projects) with a thematic focus and fewer speakers, to
facilitate exchanges. We would also like to organise more frequent one-hour webinars on very specific issues: release of regulatory framework texts, application decrees, communication operations by platforms, specific actions by specialised actors, such as the support campaign for Mediterranean ecotourism projects launched by the Défismed network, etc.

Finally, as soon as possible, (re)organise a major event to bring people together in person. This seems necessary to us. It would be complementary to the webinars: the transformation underway, that of the participative and collaborative, consistent with the dynamism of the civil societies of the countries concerned, relies on society as a whole (project holders, savers-contributors, etc.). It requires a general sharing of information, media coverage, the involvement of multiple actors (international and national institutions, economic and financial organisations, research centres, diaspora networks, etc.).

Frédéric Dubessy

Monday, April 19th 2021

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