Enrique Becerra: “Morocco is a very good country for doing business, it welcomes you with open arms” | Atalayar
In the latest edition of “De Cara al Mundo”, on Onda Madrid, we had the participation of Enrique Becerra, a Spanish businessman, administrator of Initium Cerámicas, who has been doing business with Morocco for more than a decade. Friendship and perseverance are two of the keys to doing business in the neighboring country.
Mr. Becerra, you are in Morocco, what are you doing there?
Yes, we are in the province of Berrechid, 50 kilometers from Casablanca. This is where the largest number of ceramic factories in Morocco gather, where the country’s five tile factories are located, plus those that produce bricks. We come here because this is where the tiles are produced and this industry is concentrated.
What do you export or manufacture with Morocco?
We are a company dedicated to the end of line, to the field of packaging and palletizing of tiles, in the ceramic process.
When did you start working with Morocco?
We have been working in this country for a decade. In the beginning, you have to do a lot of business work until you gain their trust, which is not so easy. You have to travel a lot, talk to customers and above all have a good product, because our direct competition is Italian ceramics, and they have been in Morocco for many more years than us. But the commercial work bears fruit also thanks to the closeness that we Spaniards have with them.
By coming here, you gain confidence, and you establish a relationship that is both commercial and friendly, which is very much appreciated here. We Spaniards, because we share such a similar character, it is very easy to find a friendly relationship, but it is hard work because you have to invest money in hotels, meals and flights to forge this relationship and sell your product. Something that also happens with other countries, of course.
It can be said to be an expense or an investment because you are investing to have a business there. Can you tell us how much you currently charge in Morocco?
In Morocco, last year, we achieved a turnover of more than 400,000 euros, which is very good. The good thing here is that the word is spreading fast. As we are all concentrated in the same neighborhood, if you work well they announce you themselves. If you don’t deliver, the same thing happens, but in reverse, of course.
We are very happy and we are moving forward. Of the five groups in this industry in Morocco, we are already at three and we will now enter the fourth before the end of the year, but it is a matter of perseverance, and it is the result of ten years that we have been here.
Were you affected by the political crisis or were you able to continue working normally?
It touched us, but not enough to stop working with them. This industry produces 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They need us because the process cannot stop, it is continuous because of the profitability of the product. The political crisis is noticeable in the sense that you charge less, but you keep charging, it affects little.
Enrique, when you had a problem in Morocco, how did you solve it?
We solve problems with the customer. Our sector does not work with chambers of commerce, nor with governments, it is direct and outside of political issues, and sometimes it is our luck.
One last question, what would you advise someone listening to us right now, who has a product, and who is considering going to Morocco to do business there?
Personally, I think Morocco is a very good country to do business in, it welcomes you with open arms and the people are very friendly. Although I can’t come and set up a manufacturing process here, the ability to have an agency and be with them and hire Moroccan workers so I don’t have to come and go as many times is very good, because it is a significant cost element despite the geographical proximity. Obviously it’s a country with a lot of opportunities, but at the moment we can’t set up a manufacturing process because our work is more technical.
But we Spaniards have the attitude and character to start a business here in Morocco. It’s about running your own business, finding the right people and having time and perseverance, like when you want to open a business there, you need a Moroccan person. This does not mean that he is the owner, but he must be the manager of the business. I have a Moroccan manager as owner.
But doing business here is not very complicated, they make it easy for you. I see it very well, I like it as a country, I have been treated very well and everyone is polite to you. It’s something that people who don’t come here can’t know.
You have to know the terrain. In Spain we are often moved by clichés or stereotypes from years ago that reality has overtaken.
It’s true. People need to change their mentality a bit. You can’t talk about a country without knowing it or about people without knowing them. We have different cultures, but we respect each other. Morocco is one of the countries where I travel for work and one of the few where I have no problems. I come here comfortable and I like it very much.