• Entrepreneurship

BNP Paribas listens to women entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs contribute more than a third of global GDP. But there are still barriers to them reaching their full potential. For these reasons, BNP Paribas is committed to serving women entrepreneurs by offering appropriate services in the geographies where the Group operates. Overview of the schemes dedicated to them.

Women-led businesses suffered more during the pandemic than men-led businesses: 64% versus 52% for men-led businesses. This is the finding of the fifth annual Mastercard Women in Business Index (MIWE) published in March 2022.

The associated report examines the financial, social and cultural aspects affecting women and business in 65 economies. In 51 of these 65 economies, business activity declined during the pandemic. To complete this bleak picture, 80% of women-owned businesses with credit needs are either unserved or underserved.


To help these women entrepreneurs, the entire BNP Paribas Group is mobilised in all its territories.

Female startup founders: headwinds in France despite their strengths

While nearly four out of ten sole traders are women, women founders of start-ups account for only 10% of this sector in France, compared to almost 17% worldwide. The lack of access to development and financing resources largely explains these inequalities between women and men in entrepreneurship, according to BPI France. However, still according to BPI France, companies created and run by women record operating profits of 8% (compared to 5.7% for companies run by men). In general, women leaders are more highly educated than men, 72% of them holding a master’s degree or a doctorate.

Fundraising, the obstacle course for women entrepreneurs

This is a key stage in the entrepreneurial adventure. However, it remains an often dreaded and difficult exercise for those who face it. Men’s teams are over-represented among the top fundraisers. 88% of the amount raised by startups in 2021 was thus captured by 100% male teams according to the barometer of access to financing for women startup managers published by the Boston Consulting Group and SISTA (March 2022). “All-female teams are the big losers in fundraising,” say BCG and Sista, despite a record €11.6 billion raised by French Tech in 2021.

Baromètre BCG-Sista-CNNum (in French)

Emblematic fundraisings in 2021 by startups co-founded by women include Swedish telemedicine specialist Kry (€262m), Lithuania-based digital platform Vinted ( €250m) and German startup equipping vertical, connected urban farms Infarm (€144m).

“At BNP Paribas, we are convinced that female entrepreneurship is a driver of innovation and employment, and therefore a lever for growth. This is why, for many years, we have been contributing to the emergence and acceleration of women entrepreneurs’ projects”.

Marguerite Bérard

Head of French Retail Banking

Networking and mentoring to boost female entrepreneurship

#ConnectHers allows women entrepreneurs to join professional networks such as Les Prem1ères, Bouge ta Boite, Femmes Chefs d'entreprises, SISTA. They also have access to the think tank The Galion Project

Supporting women's entrepreneurship wherever BNP Paribas operates

In all its territories, BNP Paribas provides concrete support for women entrepreneurs:

  • Italy: BNL BNP Paribas and the Milan incubator Digital Magics have been offering an acceleration programme dedicated to female entrepreneurship since 2019, called MIA « Miss in Action »;
  • Poland: BNP Paribas Bank Polska aims to strengthen the economic role of women in Poland. The Bank is a partner in the global mentoring event organised by the Vital Voices Foundation. During this event, leaders share their experience with young women who are reflecting on their career path. In addition, the “I am a leader” programme for committed teenage girls is also offered. For more experienced female entrepreneurs, BNP Paribas Bank Polska is a partner in the Businesswoman of the Year competition (in business, science and culture) organised by the Sukces Pisany Szminkōqui Foundation. BNP Paribas Bank Polska is also a strategic partner of the”100 Women in Business” ranking created in 2011 and organised by “Puls Biznesu”. This ranking aims to promote female entrepreneurship in the Polish business world, to encourage them to pursue their aspirations and development ambitions. It is made up of 100 women who run companies with the highest sales and profit momentum over the past two years;
  • Turkey: TEB works with the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) to empower women professionally. Since 2015, TEB has developed TEB Women’s Banking, TEB Women Academy programmes to facilitate female entrepreneurship and the creation of start-ups by women. Through the TEB Women’s Banking programme, by the end of 2021, TEB’s loans to businesses created by women had reached 1.95 billion Turkish Liras, an increase of 33% compared to 2020, supporting the creation of 57,000 businesses created or run by women, of which 24,000 have become TEB clients. The TEB Women Academy, a partnership between TEB Startup Banking and the US Embassy, is aimed at women entrepreneurs in the tech industry. The Academy offers digital courses and connects female entrepreneurs with large companies;
  • Morocco: BMCI offers a financing programme dedicated to women entrepreneurs in partnership with the EBRD, called Women in Business ;
  • Senegal: BICIS participates in the #AgriFed project in partnership with UN Women. It aims to promote the financial empowerment of women farmers in the country and to enable them to access entrepreneurship for empowerment. In 2018, BNP Paribas joined forces with UN Women, with the support of its subsidiary BICIS, in the Agrifed programme, which aims to improve food security in Senegal by promoting women’s entrepreneurship;
  • United States: Bank of the West runs the WE Source Program to support women’s entrepreneurial projects (financing, training, coaching and mentoring);
  • Brazil: from 2021, a credit facility from IFC America Latina y el Caribe to Banco Daycoval aims to develop entrepreneurship. 25% of Banco Daycoval’s loans go to financing women-owned SMEs, 30% to SMEs in remote and underserved areas of Brazil. Read the LinkedIn post 

#ConnecterHers: BNP Paribas’ central mechanism for women entrepreneurship in France

In response to this unfavourable context for women entrepreneurs, BNP Paribas has been offering them, in France, a unique entry point since 2017: #ConnectHers by BNP Paribas. They get “tailor-made” support: more than 200 ambassadors are dedicated to them throughout France, including credit experts, to tell them how to build a business plan or how to calibrate their funding requests and to boost their confidence in them. #ConnecHers by BNP Paribas also gives them access to specific programmes and workshops and to an ecosystem of partners.

For financing purposes, BNP Paribas Development devotes at least 10% of its annual equity investments to companies owned or managed by women. A budget of €3 billion is also earmarked for them. This has already accelerated the development and growth of thousands of women-owned businesses.

Photos credits: @Monkey Business, @Belyaaa, @Rawpixel, @ Jacob Lund, @amenic, BNP Paribas

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