Gender parity—the long road ahead
Having been ranked 17th in 2006, France now ranks 11th (out of 144 countries) with respects to gender equality. This is thanks to a growing female representation in politics. It’s a commendable position, but one that requires some context—based on economic criteria, France sits in 64th place.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, French gender inequality is even more clear, with women representing only 30% of the leaders of French companies. And yet, if the same number of women succeeded in their entrepreneurial projects as men, the French economy would see an additional 0.4% boost in its annual growth. This is yet another reason for helping women develop their entrepreneurship and pursue big ambitions. “With better preparation, better support and wider access to networks, we can limit the amounts of female entrepreneurs who give up,” affirms Béatrice des Brosses, Project Director in charge of Women in Entrepreneurship at BNP Paribas
Motivate, help, support
The hurdles to female entrepreneurship are well known—negative stereotypes, a perceived lack of confidence among women in their leadership skills, lack of adequate information and weak professional networks . To lift these barriers, BNP Paribas launched the #ConnectHers program, designed to increase the number of women’s projects and accelerate the development of SME and midcaps led by women.
The program comprises several priorities, ranging from funding (loans backed by a special fund for women’s initiatives—“FGIF”) to mentoring (learning workshops and assistance from BNP Paribas representatives).
#ConnectHers also enables entrepreneurs to connect with local economic players and partner associations to expand their networks. “BNP Paribas is convinced that women’s entrepreneurship constitutes one of the key economic growth drivers in the 21st century, especially in France,” explains Marie-Claire Capobianco, Manager of French Retail Banking at BNP Paribas. In fact, the #ConnectHers program is an integral part of the French Retail Banking network’s global “entrepreneurs” program, which also aims to develop social entrepreneurship and innovative entrepreneurship.
BNP Paribas is convinced that women’s entrepreneurship constitutes one of the key economic growth drivers in the 21st century
BNP Paribas expands its actions
To support women entrepreneurs at every step in their journey (creation, consolidation, growth), BNP Paribas works alongside its partner associations to achieve specific targets.
- Youth outreach: with the association ‘100,000 entrepreneurs’, which promotes entrepreneurship within schools by organizing meetings and debates
- Promoting networks: BNP Paribas is a partner of Premi1eres de Paris, Pionnières (incubator), Femmes Business Angels (women investor network), Women Business Mentoring Initiative (business support and mentoring), Femmes de Bretagne, Bouge Ta Boite, CPME/EAF
- Supporting business leaders: to support high-potential business leaders, BNP Paribas Wealth Management runs the Women Entrepreneur Program, a weeklong seminar on Stanford’s campus in partnership with the Women Initiative Foundation (WIF)
- Showcasing successful projects: BNP Paribas supports Les Trophées de l’Entrepreneuriat au Féminin (the Women Entrepreneurship Awards) and the business ranking established by Women Equity for Growth.