MOROCCO - Economy
President & Head of Advisory, BDO
Zakaria Fahim is President of BDO Sarl and a chartered accountant. He is also founder and president Hub Africa and a former chairman of the PME Auto-Entrepreneur and PME Large Enterprises commission at CGEM. He was also a founding member and the first president of the international CJD a founding member and past president of CJD Morocco. Fahim is also founding member and vice-president of the Moroccan Women’s Federation (RESOFEM), a member of the board of directors of ENCG Casablanca, and a member of the executive committee of the GES, among other positions. He was also previously an MBA executive professor at Edhec Lille (ESCA) and an author of articles on entrepreneurship, SMEs, and alternative financing.
What is the profile and trajectory of BDO in Morocco?
In the beginning, BDO was a consultancy focused on public companies, especially for conducting audits. We have been developing our portfolio in the private sector for a decade and in the field of digital transformation work for four years. We took over a company specialized in providing support to information devices, treasury, and risk management—to name just a few. This helps us better support companies with their own digital transformations. Today, we have slightly fewer than 100 employees, among whom eight are partners. On the global scale, BDO is a leading consultancy for large companies and growing business, and in Morocco, we are leaders in change of control for companies.
What main challenges did BDO face during the pandemic?
As a consultancy, we launched a business survival kit “Rethink” on a global scale in order to support companies in coping with the pandemic. We have created a platform for SMEs as well as micro businesses. With all processes previously laid out, this has helped us foresee obstacles and be able to define areas of risk, even today. Having already developed digital tools meant that we only suffered a small decrease of five percentage points. In comparison to other consultancies that did not properly manage this period, we were able to avoid a stronger decline, thanks to our support in digital transformation.
What impact has digitalization had on the sector?
We have been fortunate to be able to support companies that were already opening up or that wished to open up to digitalization, which made our job easier. However, the task ahead is to focus on how to live with COVID-19. Everything we are currently working on is aligned with this goal. All our clients that were best able to cope are those that placed human capital at the core of their working processes. Innovation must rely on human capital. For example, one of our clients in the restaurant industry had already made preparations for online orders and was therefore able to rely on well-arranged logistics for delivery. On the flip side, companies that were putting off innovation were the ones to suffer the most.
How will Morocco’s new development model impact the consulting sector and BDO?
If well implemented, it is set to encourage a great number of people who previously expected to become employees to instead start up their own companies. As the chairman of the Moroccan union of self-employed entrepreneurs, I have observed an increasing number of people becoming interested in this new model, since it offers wider accessibility to the labor market than before. It will rely on structuring tools such as crowdfunding and entrepreneurship and is aimed at the lower-level groups seeking civil servant positions. It is to be a great revolution, as it will come with advanced regionalization and puts an emphasis on digitalization. I hope all these elements will be instrumental for those companies that are currently halfway through their transformations. We are always thinking about developing new business. However, it sometimes turns out to be more appropriate and less expensive to strengthen what we already have. If this implementation is achieved, it will be a social plan that will generate wealth for everyone. For companies such as ours, it will allow us to employ people who, upon switching from a salaried worker to a self-employed person, will have high involvement in a development project. We prefer to bring on people who are looking for genuine counseling as they represent our added value. For me, this new model will empower people to emerge and launch new services, while also revealing those who have not been able to achieve their goals. There are sure to be closures in some sectors, but also new services arising as well.
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