Entrepreneurship is not a skill that can be easily learnt, especially in a society, like the French one, where the negative connotations of failure have built-up a strong aversion to risk in the professional realm.
Following an unemployment pick in the ‘70s, for the first time the French government started in 1977 to promote entrepreneurship as a tool to break the cycle of unemployment. Since then, Danielle has worked to support entrepreneurship with a network of advisory shops with similar practices and values, offering the opportunity to think entrepreneurially about employment opportunities.
From BGE’s observations, 80% of entrepreneurs are not accompanied before starting their businesses. Yet, with the right support, these entrepreneurs can significantly increase their chances to succeed.
BOUTIQUE DE GESTION
To break the isolation of entrepreneurs in France, especially those in economically and socially vulnerable groups, BGE's founder, Danielle Desguees, has been striving over the past 35 years to make it possible for all start-up businesses to succeed, grow and last. For this, Danielle developed a nationwide network of Management Shops (Reseau des Boutiques de Gestion) which share the same values and practices and provide advisory services to hundreds of thousands of would-be entrepreneurs. BGE provides an end-to-end set of programs including awareness raising activities and business games, skills assessment sessions through a specially-designed diagnostic, and comprehensive advisory processes mixing individual consulting with specialised training.
Moreover, the diagnostic tool she created is accessible on the Internet and allows any potential entrepreneur to assess his/her skills and competencies to carry out a project.
Two innovations she created over the last years are the Entrepreneurship Bus through which BGE reaches entrepreneurs in their own communities and places where they operate and the so-called nursery incubation program, which enables project developers to test their project on the market for up to one year with no risk and no need to register their company but using a specifically designed registration number for enterprises to test their product or service.
With 120,000 new businesses created over the last 35 years, 79% of which still operating after 3 years, BGE is the historic leader in supporting entrepreneurship in France.
Today the BGE network includes over 450 RBGs (Management Shops). BGE network employs nearly 1,000 professionals, 1,000 free lancers and 10,000 volunteer entrepreneurship advisors. Together, these stakeholders support 12 percent of business creations each year.
In 2014, RBGs welcomed over 80,000 would-be entrepreneurs and thanks to their support 17,100 enterprises where established, thus creating 28,600 new jobs. In 2000, BGE adopted a quality certification policy for the 450 shops in the network. A recent study by McKinsey has evaluated the economic impact of BGE in Ile de France to € 8.3 million in 2010, with an estimated impact of € 182 million if all firms that received support by BGE in France.
SCALING BGE IN SPAIN
To bring BGE in Spain, Ashoka facilitated the creation of an alliance of local partners with Fundación ICO who agreed to finance a pilot program in Spain and Fundación Emplea who was interested in adopting the methodology and implement it through 7 local members. In October 2014, Isabelle Larregneste from BGE delivered a 4-day training course to transfer the methodology and main tools to Fondacion Emplea‘s network. As a follow up, the seven organisations started to work together to adapt the methodology and created ANIDA network (Actions, News, Ideas, Development and Self-employment).
The pilot started in spring 2015 in close collaboration with various other local partners and public authorities. So far, 500 people received information and counselling at the 7 information points. In 2016, 55 information points are planned to be opened. Moreover, ANIDA will provide 19 training sessions on the BGE methodology, one in each region.
SCALING BGE IN ITALY
Following some visits to Milan and Trento in 2015, Ashoka Italy has identified Consorzio Mestieri Lombardy as ideal local partner with a key interest to replicate BGE methodology in their own network of employment agencies so that they can start offering also self-employment services.
With the support of Ashoka, Consorzio Mestieri has submitted a EU-funding proposal engaging BGE and Fondacion Emplea from Spain aimed at initiating a first pilot in Italy and exchanging experiences. Despite a negative first reply, Consorzio Mestieri Lombardy and Ashoka are continuing the collaboration and are organising a workshop in April 2016 in Milan to transfer the methodology and start a pilot. The key tools have been already translated and are currently being adapted to the local context.