France might have lastly realized what entrepreneur means — Quartz

You realize that previous joke concerning the French not having a phrase for ‘entrepreneur’? It might quickly be outdated.

France has lengthy been one of many least entrepreneurial international locations within the developed world. Simply shy of twenty-two% of French staff labored for the overall authorities in 2008. (By comparability, the common for the 29 international locations the OECD collected comparable knowledge for was about 15%.)

And simply 15% of French respondents to a current EU survey on attitudes towards entrepreneurship mentioned they’d began or taken over a enterprise, or had been planning to take action. That’s was lowest among the many 27 European Union international locations the place polling passed off.

“Traditionally France has not been a very entrepreneurial nation,” mentioned Mariarosa Lunati, who heads up group that research entrepreneurship knowledge, amongst different areas, for Paris-based assume tank that focuses on financial knowledge for the group of rich nations.

However issues could also be altering. In the course of the nadir of the worldwide recession in 2009, France applied a coverage change championed by then-President Nicholas Sarkozy and his former finance chief Christine Lagarde, who now heads up the IMF. Referred to as a system of “auto-entrepreneurship,” the concept was to hack via France’s infamous layers of crimson tape to be able to enhance the creation of recent companies. It additionally exempts these unbiased small companies from pricey social prices till the companies are worthwhile.

And, not less than on paper, it appears to be working. Registrations of French auto-entrepreneurs surged as soon as the coverage took maintain. Take a look at this chart of recent enterprise creation, lately printed by the OECD. France is in a category of its personal.

Due to the surge in auto-entrepreneurs, France now seems ostensibly extra entrepreneurial than a variety of different international locations, together with the US.

Is that this actually a French entrepreneurial revolution? Sort of. Critics may level out {that a} large chunk of French auto-enterprises exist largely on paper. A report from France’s Nationwide Institute of Statistics and Financial Research discovered that of 2009’s 328,000 newly registered auto-entrepreneurs, solely half had been truly working companies. What’s extra, their enterprise revenue throughout their first yr was 3 times lower than that of companies that had been created beneath conventional pointers. Auto-entrepreneurs typically held different jobs, too.

In that mild, auto-entrepreneurship is clearly not a panacea for France’s labor woes. However on the very least, the shift might have piqued extra curiosity in working small companies. The French public, and France’s startup group, bucked efforts by the present French authorities—led by Sarkozy’s successor François Hollande—to scale back tax exemptions for some extra profitable auto-entrepreneurs. To the extent that pushback displays altering attitudes towards enterprise in France—lengthy coloured by fashionable distrust of the nation’s extremely concentrated company sector—that may very well be an excellent factor.

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