Great, my call to female bloggers is beginning to be heard. You will find below Anne-Sophie Bousset’s article on female entrepreneurs in France versus Silicon Valley.
Concerning the author
Anne-Sophie is French-American, born in Versailles, France and raised in the Silicon Valley. A big fan of entrepreneurship, she’s been enjoying discovering the French startup scene since returning to Paris last fall 2011. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sophie_Bousset and read her blog on life in France and entrepreneurship at www.sophiebousset.wordpress.com
Here is her article
Si vous souhaitez le lire en français, rendez-vous sur http://www.business-angel-france.com/france-silicon-valley-le-monde-des-entrepreneuses
Returning to France after 12 years in the Silicon Valley, I was overjoyed to find a thriving entrepreneur community in Paris, and especially of “entrepreneuses” (female entrepreneurs.) They may not have much visibility, but they’re there alright ! Here are a few thoughts on female entrepreneurship in France as seen by a Californian.
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs also created female-only incubators so I wasn’t too surprised to find more in Paris. The Fédération Pionnières, for example, has been creating and managing incubators to support entrepreneuses in a dozen French regions, including Paris, since 2005. Their incubators offer pre-incubation services, fully equipped offices, as well as introductions to business angels, VCs, consultants, and research centers… They’ve already achieved nice results: over 1,800 project proposals received and 230 startups created. (Keep in mind that the population of France is 64 million, that of California is 37 million, and that of the Silicon Valley 7.5 million.)
More and More Visibility Online
Just like in the US (once again), entrepreneurship has become the next big thing, and articles and websites have been popping up all over the net. Now that the initial buzz is dying down, the electronic and paper press are turning to entrepreneuses. Here are some of the websites I found especially interesting (in French):
- Terrafemina’s « Créer sa boîte » (« Starting a Business ») rubric pairs interviews with practical advice
- Mixité17 and Portraits d’Entrepreneuses present portraits of enthusiastic, inspiring female entrepreneurs. My only regret: there isn’t much advice about the challenges few men face but women do, such as raising children while starting a business.
Organizations by « Entrepreneuses », for « Entrepreneuses »
I was pleasantly surprised to discover the non-vindictive tone of female entrepreneurs’ social networks in France. I’m pleased to share that, where American feminists unfortunately tend to victimize themselves and vilify men, French entrepreneuse networks, such as the Mompreneurs, instead use that energy to find ways they can help one another. Girlz in Web, a network of Parisian women interested in IT and entrepreneurship, even welcomes men within their midst, allowing them to attend events. Now THAT’s moving forward!
Most of the structures that have cropped up to support female entrepreneurs are very similar to those that already existed. This makes sense since they took cues from the successful incubators, networks, etc. that were already there, but is such a shame. These structures’ potential to bring something new to the table comes from their focus on women and their unique issues, so why not specialize services even more to concentrate on the new challenges women face? Our tendency to avoid taking risks would be an interesting place to start. The bottom line is that these structures will only reach their potential (and, by definition, help entrepreneuses reach their potential) once they dedicate themselves to the particular trials female entrepreneurs face.
I don’t like comparing France to the Silicon Valley since I don’t want to insinuate that California has the only or the best startup ecosystem, but I can’t help noticing the differences. So what do I see? A young community, off to a great start, with a lot of potential.
The debate of Patrick
I give you my opinion. Indeed, I do not understand why women decide to isolate themselves. While women qualities are more and more appreciated, I find exclusive women’s groups described in the article unproductive. In a startup, an incubator or an association, the ideal is to mix the two sexes, as in a couple. I am convinced that the group is strengthened from everyone differences and qualities.
And you, readers, what do you think?