Plan entrepreneuriat des femmes (Women’s Entrepreneurship Plan) aims to increase the proportion of women in new business start-ups to 40% in 2017. There are three main pillars of support: (i) improve information dissemination to women entrepreneurs on available public support; (ii) providing individual support to entrepreneurs (e.g. mentoring, training, networking); and (iii) improving access to finance. In addition, some measures target women entrepreneurs in rural areas.
Women are under-represented among the French population of entrepreneurs, similar to many OECD countries. In 2012, 30% of private businesses were created by women. The Plan seeks to improve the conditions for business creation for women and improve the gender balance among the self-employed.
The Plan was launched in August 2013 by the Ministries of Women's Rights; National Education, Higher Education and Research; and the Delegate Ministry for SMEs, Innovation and the Digital Economy. It contains three pillars, two of which focus on entrepreneurship skills development.
The first pillar aims improve public communication about entrepreneurship by strengthening entrepreneurship in the education system, supporting promotional events such as the Entrepreneurship Awareness Week and the launch of a new website (www.ellesentreprennent.fr/), which provides information and links to available support programmes (e.g. training, mentoring).
The second pillar boosts individual supports for women entrepreneurs with the creation of 14 regional support networks that provide mentoring to women entrepreneurs. Some of these networks offer general support, while others offer tailored support for specific groups such as innovative women entrepreneurs or older women entrepreneurs. One of the main objectives of these networks is to strengthen support for women entrepreneurs in rural areas.
The third pillar improves access to finance for women entrepreneurs. The approach built a partnership with the Caisse des Dépots et Consignations, two banks (BPCE and BNP Paribas) and financial networks (France Active and Initiative France), which organise breakfast meetings and networking events for entrepreneurs and financial institutions. In addition, the government facilitates loans for women entrepreneurs through the loan guarantee Fonds de garantie à l’initiative des femmes (FGIF). As of September 2015, the ceiling for the guarantees was EUR 45 000.
In 2013, the initiative mobilised a network of 130 women entrepreneurs and they reached 2 600 young women who were interested in becoming entrepreneurs. There were 400 promotional events in 2015, which was double the number in 2014. The guarantee fund (FGIF) assisted 2 281 women in starting their business in 2016.
This case study was adapted from material published in: OECD/European Union (2018), “Policy brief on women’s entrepreneurship”, Publications Office of the EU, Luxembourg. https://doi.org/10.1787/f493861e-en