The Rise of Entrepreneurship in France

Eiffel Tower

France is an old nation, which has been well known for luxury goods, French Riviera and its high standards education system provided in “Grandes écoles”. For a long time, these drive for excellence had an unexpected consequence because students learned there is no place for failure and want a secure job. This mindset is slowly changing because a job with a big company is not a guarantee of stability anymore and students have been encouraged to learn from mistakes. According to KPMG, a third of French students now say that they want to create or join a startup.

Today, France is slowly shifting is risk-adverse mindset to a more entrepreneurial attitude. Its dynamic digital ecosystem is able to support this transition because of proper regulations, highly educated population and appropriate institutions. ARCEP, the national regulator, has been playing a key role these past two decades to support the opening of the telecommunications sector to competition and regulating markets. In this sector, the authority’s primary role has to ensure effective and fair competition for the benefit of consumers in the digital ecosystem. About education, the French educational system is highly centralized and organized, with many subdivisions. Education is mandatory until 16 years old and schools are free of charge. 79.7% of the population holds a secondary diploma and 99% of them are literate. About public bodies, France has developed strong local governments in parallel with central government branch offices at the local level, reflecting a mix of powers between local government and central government, which could be a distinctive element of the French administrative organization.

According to OECD, the current digital revolution should impact 30% of workers in France. These professionals should adapt to the upcoming technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotic or Internet of things. Entrepreneurs are more inclined to adapt to the digital revolution and policymakers should facilitate the current transition by supporting professionals to embrace changes and facilitating entrepreneurship widely. Today, the job market is not dynamic enough because current labor laws are highly protective for workers and the labor cost is high. Policymakers should develop liberal policies to contract professional without friction inline with an adapted social protection. For entrepreneurs, policymakers should simplify company creation, clarify the difference between the current five legal statuses that a freelance worker can adopt, shorten administrative processes and provide a social protection similar to others workers.

A proper agenda for entrepreneurship should take actions to create jobs, increase worker productivity, benefit customers and facilitate private investments. A high ICT literacy level in the whole population should be guaranty, academic institutions should be reinforced to advance research & development on cutting-edge technologies, user-centric public administration should be designed, a shift to entrepreneurship mindset should be encouraged, a clear legal framework should support businesses to scale, and high quality and affordable broadband infrastructures should be deployed nationally. Thus, France has all assets to transit smoothly into a digital economy and the nation should adopt an appropriate plan to bring entrepreneurship to the next stage.


Originally published at ICT for Development.