The Essonne department recorded a record number of businesses created. In 2021, 21,801 companies were created in the department, according to INSEE figures. An increase of 11% compared to 2020. A phenomenon observed by Réseau Entreprendre Essonne. This association of business leaders supports entrepreneurs in the development of their business. By 2021, approximately thirty entrepreneurs will be supported. Réseau Entreprendre 91 president Renan Ayrault, director of Ammareal, a company selling second-hand books on the internet in Morangis, gives his opinion on the success of entrepreneurship.
Actu-Juridique: What is Réseau Entreprendre 91?
Renan Ayrault : Réseau Entreprendre 91 is an association of 110 volunteer business leaders. They support the winners, i.e., the creators and buyers of the companies as well as the entrepreneurs whose business is experiencing continued growth. In 2021, we supported 30 projects, a third of which were led by women entrepreneurs. In general, we provide support in two ways. First, there are honorary loans that can range from € 15,000 to € 50,000 for business creation. They can be higher for recovery or for growth companies. This is a zero-interest loan, with no personal guarantee from the beneficiary. On average, each year, we make € 800,000 in departmental loans, or approximately € 30,000 per project.
In addition, the leader members of the association provide free and voluntary support to the winning business leaders for two years. Each month, for at least an hour, the winners of the Réseau Entreprendre de l’Essonne meet with a business manager to receive support and advice. The Réseau Entreprendre member shared his experience to allow the winners to create or take over a company to better orient themselves to their strategy. Accompaniment is also done through promotions of laureates to discuss their problems such as recruiting the first employee, for example.
Actu-Juridique: What sectors of activity are represented within the Essonne Entrepreneurship Network?
Renan Ayrault : We have a particularity within the Réseau Entreprendre Essonne. We are the mirror of our territory. We have many winners who are engaged in new technologies. This is the case for biotechnologies and very technology-oriented start-ups. technology and be the deep technology i.e., disruptive change. Very advanced technologies. For example, we recently signed several agreements, specifically with a start-up that diagnoses colorectal cancer through a simple blood test. Another less technical example with a the market around the hip-hop community. Then, we will have more traditional companies in the field of personal services or catering, for example.
Actu-Juridique: Can you describe the economic fabric of Essonne?
Renan Ayrault : You have a large economic center on the Saclay plateau facing the University of Paris-Saclay and several primary schools such as Polytechnique, Télécom ParisTech or CentraleSupélec. Therefore, there is a very rich scientific and industrial textile in this territory. There is also the National School of Statistics and Applied Economics that moved to the plateau a few years ago. In this major innovation hub, you have companies developed and large groups already established. It is an important territory in the direct activity of Réseau entrepreneur 91. In 2021, 17 of our winning entrepreneurs will be located in the Paris-Saclay urban community, including six located in the town of Gif-sur-Yvette, in the heart of the Plateau of Saclay.
There is a second economic center around Évry and Génopole. You have a lot of start-ups and new technology companies, specifically in biotech. Then, in general, the north of Essonne is more industrial with logistics activities around the N104 and the A86. The south of the department is more rural with some very local businesses.
Actu-Juridique: How did the companies in the Essonne department experience the health crisis?
Renan Ayrault : Some observations in this matter. First of all, overall, after the 2020 rotation, then redeployment of our wings in 2021, our activity continues to be very strong and sustainable. But, business leaders and their teams are tired. The health crisis is a particular test and uncertain period. Managing uncertainty on a daily basis is energy consuming. For example, it was the morning phone call from an employee to announce that his son was positive for Covid and he would not arrive. Another example with contact cases to manage. The spirits also get tired. Because of teleworking, employees are farther away from the company. Then, there is also another phenomenon, recently, shared by some business leaders. Employees leave the company overnight. They left without giving any news or reason for their departure.
Legal News: How has business creation evolved in the Essonne department?
Renan Ayrault : In Essonne, for the year 2021, there were 21,801 businesses, up 11% compared to 2020 and 22% compared to 2019. At the Essonne Entrepreneur Network level, in 2019, we had 25 winners. By 2020, there will be 20 entrepreneurs. Then, in 2021, we supported 30 leaders. The winning Entrepreneur Network companies, which did not survive the crisis, have largely already had difficulties. We were wondering before the health crisis. After this increase in business creation, the crisis has not dried up the vocation of some people. We are part of a formidable trend. Entrepreneurship with freedom and autonomy is valued. Personally, what I like about being an entrepreneur is that we work more hours, we deal with problems that are ours and we are in control of our solutions. I also see this feeling in my discussions with winners. There is an interesting work relationship that makes more sense. When I wake up in the morning, I know to grow my business. My company is part of the social economy and solidarity. We sell used books and donate part of the sale price to charity. The meaning of work and the feeling of having more control over one’s destiny explains part of the movement towards entrepreneurship since the health crisis.
Legal News: In Essonne, as you said, Paris-Saclay is a scientific territory with laboratories and primary schools. Are engineers and researchers increasingly becoming entrepreneurs?
Renan Ayrault : In fact, more and more engineers and researchers are becoming entrepreneurs. I will give you the example of an institution with which we have a great relationship: it is the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). He has a spin-off program. Almost every year, we have entrepreneurs who approach us and come through this CEA program. I have in mind the example of Jean-Marc Alexandre, founder of Sport Quantum. He has developed technologies in a laboratory within the CEA. Its solutions have made it possible to detect an effect accurately on a solid. He made it a product for the benefit of sport shooters. Using the software, we can determine the impact of a bullet on a target without it coming back and make statistics. I also think of the Exoneo company where I worked, which makes cheap high-tech foot prostheses. One of the founders came from DGA.
Legal news: The Essonne department is made up of many working -class districts, sometimes classified as city policy. How do you work with the population of these neighborhoods in relation to entrepreneurship?
Renan Ayrault : For a year and a half, we became interested in entrepreneurship in working -class neighborhoods. It is not easy to find contractors in working class neighborhoods for several reasons. I know there are traders in these territories. Then, to become an Entrepreneurship Network laureate, you need to develop your business plan. A study manager will study this. If verified, the candidate will be accepted by some business leaders of the association to confirm the continuity of the process. Finally, the entrepreneur goes to the commitment committee of the Réseau Entreprendre. This lengthy selection process along with the documents to be provided is not easy for someone without entrepreneurship codes. Some young people from working class neighborhoods censor themselves for fear of entering into this process. So we have a hard time attracting them. And then the impossibility because they have no knowledge, for example in the design of a business plan. We have someone at Réseau Entreprendre Essonne. That said, when these difficulties have been overcome, we have had some great successes, such as Mildred Omieh, 2019 winner and manager of Mil’Beauty hair and beauty salon in Les Ulis. As such, we must seek partners to support candidates from the neighborhoods above our process.