Fleur Pellerin is looking to change how France treats entrepreneurial failure, and she’s attacking the problem at the source. In an article in LeFigaro, the Minister of the Digital Economy is quoted as saying “We must turn an entrepreneur’s first failure into a positive experience. Failure should not be a red light (for future ventures). We need to stop stigmatizing entrepreneurs who have failed; history has shown that ventures are more successful when an entrepreneur has had a previous failure.”
This very idea is embodied in the FailCon conference series, which has already come to Paris twice, each time bringing together 100+ attendees who share their own failures and listen to discussions about failure from some of France’s most prominent entreprneneurs, such as Avanquest’s Bruno Vainryb, Criteo’s JB Rudelle, and Partech International’s Philippe Collombel.
How exactly does Pellerin plan to change this?
In order to change this perception, Pellerin plans to propose a measure, which could take affect as early as this year, would change the way the Banque de France treats an entrepreneur’s previous venture experience when evaluating him for loans and other financing. As Yann De Gales points out, currently the Banque de France gives a note of 040 to entrepreneurs who have filed for bankruptcy in the past three years. In theory, this doesn’t disqualify them from getting financed by banks; however, in practice, banks will not finance an entrepreneur with this note. This may be due to the fact that the Banque de France gives the same notation to entrepreneurs who have filed bankruptcy, no matter the reason – either because the venture was out of cash, or because, for example, the entrepreneur acted in a fraudulent manner (whether directly convicted of fraud or not).
Measures like these, which are so ingrained in French banking practices, may account for part of the stigma around entrepreneurship and failure, and beginning to make changes to the banking system to distinguish entrepreneurs from other small business owners may be the first step towards redefining how France, and its culture, treats the entrepreneur.