As most of you know, I grew up in Southern France. And while I don’t live in France anymore, I still try to keep up to date with what’s going on in the country. Like the current shift towards embracing entrepreneurship and economic growth, led by President Emmanuel Macron.
I’m really encouraged by what I’ve been hearing, considering that 10 to 15 years ago, the country frowned upon entrepreneurs and the economy was stagnant for a number of reasons. Talking about the past and the reasons why things were the way they were could lead to a rather long piece, so to avoid a TLDR scenario for you, I’ll just speak about a few of the good things happening in France right now.
Without getting too much into the politics of the land, there have been talks forever about things that needed to change in order for France to move forward. But since Macron became president, he’s done more than just talking, he’s passed a bunch of new laws, launched several initiatives geared towards supporting small business owners and self-employed individuals, and pumped funds into training/retraining of professionals. I don’t know if it’s his age (he became the youngest ever French president when he won at the age of 39 in 2017) or the fact that he has a strong corporate background (previously an investment banker at Rothschild), but Macron’s moves have certainly ignited some dynamism in the French economy while trying to remove a lot of the bureaucracy that prevented growth.
A more startup-friendly environment
Although the word entrepreneur is French in origin, entrepreneurs were traditionally looked down on in France. As a result, the economic climate did not encourage entrepreneurship in the country while discouraging enterprising foreigners from setting up shop. But since last year and in line with Macron’s presidency, there’s been a significant shift towards creating an environment that is conducive to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.
In addition, the president has stated his intention to end the counter-productive Exit Tax, which has, over the years, driven away potential French entrepreneurs to places more attractive to startups such as Silicon Valley. Already, the French startup environment has been showing a lot of promise; just this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the French contingent was only six less than their U.S. counterparts.
According to this Forbes article, France is now home to the world’s largest startup incubator, attracting more than 30 venture capitalist firms, over 3,000 entrepreneurs working on new ventures, and a slew of top tech companies. Facebook and Google, for instance, have set about hiring 150 artificial intelligence specialists across Paris. And if the same article is anything to go by, the future looks rather bright with a number of foreign entities collectively announcing over $12 billion in new French investments (Disney alone has put aside $2.4 billion to fund the expansion of Disneyland Paris).
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