Can young entrepreneurs drive France forward?

France is embarking on an ambitious quest to ensure its economic competitiveness and preserve its independence. This requires a delicate balance involving decisions to encourage ambition and risk-taking while assisting its youth, some of whom are in precarious situations.

The “sine qua non” of economic competitiveness!

Despite France’s strong global position, its internal issues persist and hold it back. One of these gaps is the lack of social cohesion and security, which are crucial for accelerating its economic development. Recent devastating riots in response to police abuses have highlighted growing social tensions in the country. These waves of discontent, often fueled by large groups of disillusioned youth, threaten both economic and social progress. This comes at a critical moment when France needs new ideas and collective enthusiasm.

To advance, France must break away from conventional patterns and mobilising all forces, including those from underprivileged neighborhoods and active rural communities. Since diversity and cultural fusion are recognized drivers of innovation, a more inclusive economic environment that welcomes their ideas and perspectives will be good for both the economy and society.

Despite certain structural challenges related to territorial planning policies highlighted in a recent report by the Institut Montaigne , there is still cause for optimism. Consider, the perception that young people from priority neighborhoods view entrepreneurship. For them, it acts as “a tool for resilience and a lever for integration into the economy.” The 2021 French Entrepreneurial Index report is full of data showcasing the development of their entrepreneurial culture and appetite.  

Young entrepreneurs contribute to job creation, even in rural regions, showing the impact each individual can have on their own socio-economic condition and immediate environment. Moreover, the rise of social entrepreneurship proves to be an effective means of addressing social problems such as climate change, delinquency, and poverty.

Many ambitious and, impatient, young French individuals find entrepreneurship to be an outlet that benefits both themselves and their communities. New generations of entrepreneurs have a greater inclination to integrate into their communities and, due to their strong social capital, are more likely to contribute to local economic development, job creation, and social cohesion. This can have positive effects on social stability. Since 2021, the young people aged 25-34 have been the group most comfortable with terms like “social entrepreneurship” (43%), “mission-driven business,” and “impact entrepreneurship.”

The ‘Pacipreneurship’ of South Korea: An Inspiration for Social Cohesion

France can draw inspiration from South Korea’s “soft power” and its concept of “Pacipreneurship.” This concept, recently developed by researcher Yong Ji Kim, views entrepreneurship as an effective and rapid tool for pacification. Whenever an entrepreneurial project is initiated, regardless of its degree of success, a collective movement is triggered to mobilize shared resources for better tackling social, environmental, and international issues.  

The global explosion of South Korea’s technological and creative industries was made possible by massive investments in what its youth could produce, despite class struggles, the trauma of the island’s division, and inherited poverty from various invasions. This was achieved through powerful government agencies like the Korean Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), which implements a strategic policy of systematic support for the national content business. Beneficiaries of these investments often come from massive selection programs among the youngest artists, sometimes as young as 12 years old.

The results speak for themselves, and the discourse around young populations in South Korea has significantly changed. This can serve as a model for the French as they chart the path for social cohesion.

Source: Stakeholder, Capitalism and Pacipreneurship – Yong Jin Kim, Professor at Sogang University, South Korea.
Conference Report 2023 ICSB.

Emergence of New Models

To harness the power and ambition of its youth, France must allocate more educational, human, and financial resources to schools and training centers to support entrepreneurship. This would encourage young people to consider it as a viable and valued career option, especially where they are marginalized in the job market.

It’s essential to steer them away from the single path of job searching that’s offered to them and enhance their capacity for initiative. Developing inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems in disadvantaged neighborhoods and rural areas would provide young people with an environment conducive to developing their entrepreneurial projects.

Recently, traditional incubators and co-working spaces have been joined by new programs like “Coopératives Éphémères“. The Co-operatives of Services for Youth (CSY) and Co-operatives of Young Adults (CYA) aim to promote the empowerment of participants and strengthen social ties in local neighborhoods by implementing collective projects. These initiatives can and should be expanded to support and challenge young people to work together to mend a fractured France while bolstering economic dynamism. Because young entrepreneurs in France play a major role in our future.

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I've walked the path from corporate to entrepreneur, driven by my passion for transformation. With 12 years as a legal business partner at Lagardere, I embraced the power of digital innovation. Inspired by this foray into “intrapreneuship”, I launched 'Qwampus': an Incubation Management System empowering unlikely entrepreneurs to shape their dreams. As teacher and coach, I empower youth and women to merge Sustainable Development Goals with entrepreneurial brilliance. Together, we redefine success and forge a brighter future.