Groupements de Créateurs: Encouraging Youth Entrepreneurship in France
In France, although many programs exist to provide support and encouragement to young entrepreneurs, the best ways of supporting youth in creating new businesses and organizations are not clear. Researchers are evaluating the effect of a program that aims to develop the autonomy and decision-making skills of young people on their ability to launch a venture.
In areas with high unemployment, young people may lack access to steady jobs and turn to entrepreneurship as a means of supporting themselves. However, starting a business or organization may also be difficult for those who have dropped out of school and live in marginalized communities. In France, although many programs exist to provide support and encouragement to such young entrepreneurs, the best ways of supporting youth in creating new businesses and organizations are not clear. Will young people benefit more from specific advice on how to run a business or general lessons about decision-making? What impact do these support programs have?
The unemployment rate in France is nearly 10 percent , but among young people aged 15-24 this rate is more than doubled. To help understand and address problems of labor market participation among young people, the government runs a series of "Local Missions" in underprivileged urban and suburban areas. These missions provide trainings and support to local youth, particularly those who may have dropped out of school before acquiring necessary academic or social skills. Most classes and trainings are run by volunteers, and focus on developing vocational skills and promoting social integration.
In Local Missions throughout France, a sample of young unemployed people who were interested in starting a business, association, or event, were randomly allocated into either a treatment or comparison group. Members of the treatment group were subsequently enrolled in the "Groupement de Createurs" program. Rather than seeking to tell young entrepreneurs exactly how to pursue their chosen project, this program focuses on developing social and decision-making skills that will allow them to set their own priorities and take the best actions to achieve them.
In the "Emergence" stage of the program, the participants take part in group workshops to confirm their desire of carrying out their project and to develop their idea. They also meet regularly with an individual counselor to explore their motivations, strengths, and weaknesses, and to develop their initiative and autonomy. Participants who confirm their desire to continue their project participate in the second, or "Training," phase of the program. The "Training" phase, which consists of a 6-month academic program hosted at a local university, leads to a technical degree in entrepreneurship. The third phase of the program is the creation of the new business or organization, using the skills learned from the counseling and training.
Project ongoing; results forthcoming.