If you ever find yourself in Morocco, for tourism or business, chances are you’ll use a bus service powered by Lagare.ma, a bus service platform which deploys technology to make it easy to search, compare, and book bus tickets all over Morocco from your phone right in the comfort of your hotel room.
And Lagare.ma is the brainchild of Issam Darui, the 24-year old former bus boy who’s parleyed his experience into one of Africa’s fastest growing start-ups.
Darui did not just sleepwalk into the idea of setting up a project like Lagare.ma. Rather, he drew on his experience as a busboy when on holidays aged just 13, he worked as a driver’s assistant or “Grissoun”.
That idea, borne out of the experience of a 13 year old has inspired so much investor confidence that Lagare.ma recently accessed two million Dirhams (about USD 210,000) private equity funding to accelerate growth and expansion to countries where access to the transportation network can be improved.
Darui’s sights are now set on Tunisia, Cameroon, Egypt and other countries in Africa where access to transportation can be improved using technology.
So what makes Lagare.ma the raving success that it has become in just four years?
Its success is embedded in the platform’s simplicity to use.
Lagare.ma offers the customer a pretty easy-to-use way of finding, comparing and booking inter-city bus tickets online using the company’s app and website.
It allows you to find bus schedules, pick up and drop off locations while saving you the stress of standing in long queues at bus stations.
Founded in 2014, Lagare.ma today makes over 10,000 departures daily all over Morocco to more than 150 destinations locally and to seven European countries. Language is not a barrier to its use as the platform is accessible in 10 languages and has payment options for 25 currencies.
To use it, all you need is an account on the company’s platform. Log in and browse all the alternative routes, buses and prices going to your destination and make a booking. It is that simple.
However, what is not that simple is the impression Darui has made on the industry and industry watchers all over Africa.
The awards and recognitions have been coming in thick and fast for what is considered a revolutionary pioneering effort to make life easier for commutters.
In 2014, it was selected as one of the Top 5 Best Startups in Morocco, the best startup in the eastern Moroccan region, and was selected among the top 5 mobile applications while in 2015 it was recognized as the best E-commerce platform in Morocco.
Darui recalled the first award in Lagare.ma’s first year of operation:
We won first prize as the best business start-up in Oriental at the Competition Challenge Start-up Oriental 2014, and more than 20 newspapers, magazines, radio and TV media [outlets] have spoken about our project,”
That first validation has since opened the floodgate for other achievements.
He was named among the 12 best young African entrepreneurs at the 2016 edition of the Anzisha prize; got a spot on the Forbes list of 30 young people (less than 30 years) most promising African entrepreneurs and he was crowned as the “Young Outstanding African Entrepreneur of the Year” at the 2017 edition of the African Awards Network
The Lagare.ma Advantage
Darui runs a tight ship with a minimal staff of five which keeps overhead costs at the lowest levels and maximises efficiency.
The Lagare.ma business model is founded on the principle of customer satisfaction as a well-served client is sure to not only come back but also definitely tell others to patronise the business hence the company proclaims on its website thusly:
We offer the best customer service possible. It is our absolute pride to do whatever we can to help you. Our customers certainly seem to agree with us.”
Darui is from the northeastern Moroccan city of Oujda, near the Algerian border and he studied Economics at the Universite Mohammed Premier-Oujda. He comes from a family with flair for transportation with his elder brother being a professional bus driver.
- It’s never too early to start.
- You can be inspired by the most innocuous ideas.
- If you believe in yourself and keep working hard, others will be forced to notice your result.