The first part of this study gives an overview of businesses in Paris which have been set up and run by foreigners from outside the European Union (managers’ profiles, lines of business, location, etc.). Two further sections provide a qualitative analysis based on interviews which goes into greater detail about the particular steps needed to set up a business in Paris as a foreigner (specific challenges to overcome, advantages, key factors leading to success, etc.).
One business in ten in Paris is run by a non-EEC national. The highest number of nationalities represented are Chinese, Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan and Turkish. Although their geographical location within Paris varies according to their nationality, the greatest number of non-EEC business managers in Paris have settled in the 10th, 18th; 19th and 20th districts. Only one manager in four is a woman. The main areas of business run by foreigners are hotels and restaurants, property and retail.
Setting up a business involves dealing with the combination of context (difficulty to integrate the market place) and know-how (professional qualifications and experience neither sufficiently recognised nor valued).
Individually-tailored support provided by associations can make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs wishing to set up a business, to integrate themselves socially and professionally.
The main difficulties faced by those wanting to set up a business are on the one hand learning the language and French social codes; on the other the risk of discrimination when trying to get access to premises and funding even where alternative solutions exist (micro-credit, mutual community support, sharing of premises, etc.).
Diversity and inclusion needs to be promoted in order to change the way businesses and the society see difference. Foreigners settled in France have developed various meta-skills that are worth considering and appreciating better. In the eyes of those foreign entrepreneurs who have succeeded, Paris appears as a cosmopolitan “world-city” full of business opportunities.