At a time when America’s female entrepreneurs and working women face dwindling healthcare provisions and basic coverage and only a minuscule portion of VC funding, their French counterparts are enjoying more support–both from the government and female-led incubators–than ever before.
The young, business-friendly administration of French president Emanuel Macron’s commitment to gender equality and entrepreneurship, institutionalized public funding for entrepreneurs, and the increasing number of success stories involving female founders over the last few years have created a nurturing environment for female-led startups in France.
As a result, more French women are turning to entrepreneurship as a way to further their careers, balance family life ,and disrupt male-dominated industries, according to data compiled by starther.org. StartHer, formerly known as the French chapter of Girls In Tech, is hosting Europe’s biggest startup competition for female founders on October 19. “We had a record number of applications this year–363 applications from 30 countries (vs. 300 from 28 countries previously), which is very encouraging,” co-director Joanna Kirk tells Fast Company.
— StartHer (@starther_org) October 19, 2017
“It may seem typical to find a woman at the head of a cosmetics concept, but international brands are all operated by male CEOs,” says Aurore Humez-Leray, founder of L’Armoire à Beauté, a curation service that help pharmacies discover new brands and organic products. “Women have the legitimacy to genuinely understand the customers they are serving.”
Humez-Leray left her job in 2013 as the international marketing director at KIBIO, an organic skincare line at Clarins Group, and launched her startup in January 2016.
In France, unemployment law and the wider startup ecosystem fill the gaps between a successful corporate career and the plunge into the startup world. After leaving Clarins Group, Humez-Leray was able to take a two-year leave, give birth to her third child, and launch her startup.
After that, L’Armoire à Beauté was supported by Paris Pionnières, the oldest incubator in Europe for female founders, which was established 12 years ago with the help of regional government (Île-de-France).
Paris Pionnières, a buzzing incubator and co-working space in central Paris that is strikingly gender-balanced, has incubated…