Boosting entrepreneurship to combat an ageing population: the French region of Auvergne started investing in its entrepreneurs a few years back.
And the results are promising: hundreds of jobs have been created and young entrepreneurs are being drawn back to the region.
David and Eric are both trained boilermakers in their mid-twenties.
They have set up a business making designer furniture out of steel, stainless steel and zinc using enamelled lava, leather and carbon for decoration.
Turnover last year reached 100,000 euros. Their goal is to double this figure in the coming year and hire a sales person.
Their strength is their know-how – among their clients are some of the biggest art galleries.
But they also know they must adapt to the realities of the marketplace.
“Our family, friends and other people tell us: ‘What you do is great, but we can’t afford that kind of thing’,” says Eric Romero, co-founder of Tred Arts.
“We are very aware of how much people have to spend, whether it’s a large sum or a smaller sum. We adapt each product to the client’s budget and desires,” adds his business partner Eric Seguinotte.
David and Eric set up their company two years ago.
The pair owe part of their success to the region’s entrepreneurs in residence initiative. Its aim is to encourage young entrepreneurs to set up businesses in Auvergne. The scheme won the European Commission’s Enterprise Promotion Awards Grand Jury Prize back in 2010.
“Through the entrepreneurs in residence scheme, we didn’t have to pay rent for four months, and each of us got a monthly salary of 1,000 Euros,” says David.
“That money gave us a bit of time to go and look for clients, to make a name for ourselves and go to business fairs,” says Eric.
The initiative has seen the creation of 500 new companies in the region.
The average age of an entrepreneur has dropped from 43 to 39.
Henri Talamy is Auvergne’s Mr Entrepreneurship:
“The result is that, by spending just over three million euros over five years, the companies we have helped here in Auvergne have yielded no less than 47 million euros in turnover. That also represents more than a 1,000 extra jobs. That’s huge for a region like ours,” says Henri Talamy from the Auvergne region.
Eric and David have this advice for anyone thinking of setting up their own business:
“The recipe for success is not to stay in your corner, you must develop a network. And never give up,” says Eric.
“You’ve got to take risks and be creative, it’s essential to create your own network. And remember that life as an entrepreneur is not an easy ride,” adds David.