Today in France, female careers are characterised by a paradox. While French women are, on average, more
qualified than men when they graduate from university, they represent only 30 % of entrepreneurs. In 2011, less
than 3 % of women aged between 18 and 64 set up their own companies or were owners of a recently-created
company, as opposed to 4.5 % in Germany, 5.2 % in the United Kingdom, and over 10 % in the United States.
Towards women making up 40% of entrepreneurs in 2017
This state of affairs is considered detrimental by the government headed by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Indeed, on top of an ever-present lack of gender equality, an OECD report dating from May 2012 stipulates that if
the weaker sex’s employment rate equalled that of males, the country’s growth potential would increase by 20 to
François Hollande has thus set an objective of having women make up 40 % of entrepreneurs in 2017.
To achieve this aim, the Plan de Développement de l’Entrepreunariat Féminin (Female Entrepreneurship
Development Plan) is structured around three elements.
Awareness raising, guidance and information
Integrated to school curricula that are being revamped from September 2013 onwards, female entrepreneurship
will be on the syllabus from Year 7 upwards in the form of information, guidance and discovery of the economic
and professional world. The raising of awareness on the role of the weaker sex at the head of companies will
also be included in State agreements affecting young pupils through to university students in certain units of
bachelor’s and master’s degrees. More generally, initiatives on this topic will be held ever year in high schools
and tertiary institutions. Finally, a female entrepreneurship observatory is to be created. This set of measures will
be supervised by the Ministries of National Education and of Research.
Beefing up support for female entrepreneurs
The French Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem is tackling the issue along with institutional
players and Chamber networks including the CCIs. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized
Enterprises, Innovation and the Digital Economy under Minister Fleur Pellerin will be in charge of the mentorship
charter signed in 2013, geared towards promoting female involvement. The charter will help launch new initiatives
mobilising associations such as the AFIME (French Association of Entrepreneurial Mentoring Institutes) and the
Entreprendre or Initiative France networks that will be developing a breeding ground for mentors involving female
Facilitating access to financing for female entrepreneurs
Under the headship of the Ministry of the Economy, Bpifrance Investissement will be paying special attention to
investment projects put forward by women and falling within its investment targets.
A charter was signed in July 2013 with the Fédération Bancaire Française (French Banking Federation) to
promote female entrepreneurship in the main banking networks, to launch initiatives to raise the awareness of
bank advisers on the existence of the FGIF (Fonds de Garantie à l’Initiative des Femmes or Female Initiative
Guarantee Fund), and to train them to receive female entrepreneurs.
The steering committee for this Development Plan gathers company heads including Cécile Real from Endodiag,
Isabelle Malcuit from Algentec and Valérie Autier from Metabrain Research, as well as institutional partners such
as the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, the Head of the Enterprises and Companies division of MEDEF
(French employers’ organisation), Céline Micouin, alongside various ministries. Let’s hope that the plan will bear
fruit and that XX chromosomes will rapidly flourish at the head of French companies.