Let’s face it, MEDEF (Movement of the enterprises in France) is not so popular for SMEs and freelances . According to many French people, MEDEF is seen as the commercial agency of the biggest companies, mainly listed on France’s CAC 40 index.
When our company launched, we still decided to visit the headquarter in order to face that idea and make our own opinion: how would we be welcomed by the people working there, as a very small business established in a small city located in the North-East of France? Guess what? We were very surprised by their openness (and we are not paid to say it, it is just our own experience). We had no problem at all to share our views during the attended meetings or conferences. They even asked our opinions on the topics, because people are aware that France is much more complex than the idea they can have from the capital. Each time we went to these meetings, we never felt put appart. Unfortunately many SMEs owners consider they don’t have a word to say in this kind of organisations. It is true that it is not so easy to jump in the first time. We were a bit impressed, but we decided to be courageous, to be ourselves and share our ideas. The truth is that we appreciate an organisation which is not afraid to include all kinds of companies, of any size and listen to what we have to share as a small company.
Why does it matter? Because this organisation weighs (and always did) with the French Government and Parliament. They are often consulted on the economic issues related to the main ongoing reforms. We even believe each company (in France) should take the time to share their problems and solutions with this kind of organisation(MEDEF is not the only one). The biggest companies have the necessary resources and time to spend and show their requests via a huge work of lobbying. This is probably the main reason why we see the MEDEF helping more the big companies but it doesn’t mean they don’t consider the smaller businesses requests.It is very important to take the time if we want a chance to make things change.
Last week, among other meetings, we grabbed few interesting elements that we want to share with you.
AI & Smart Data (credits Shutterstock)
Firstly, we are part of the AI & SmartData workgroup and attended to its launch. The idea is that providing digital services integrating AI & smart data is awesome but being aware how ethics, legal, economics and HR would affect the growth in the use of theses technologies and data is a very important topic for our future society.
Jean-Sebastien Mariez, Lawyer, started by advising the group on what to focus on, showing the conclusion of his previous work with France IA.
In fact, AI offers a lot of opportunities but in the meanwhile many question marks show up and any business should consider legal protection, data protection, algorithms transparency, responsibilities, categorisations and so on.
Then, we assisted to a presentation made by Jalgos, AI consulting company in Paris that pointed important issues to this audience of variously sized companies and organizations such as EDF (Electricity of France), Figaro (Newspaper) or professional organizations like FIM (Federation of Mechanic Industries). I am sorry for all the others I don’t mention but please be sure the French companies were well represented.
We, as a small business, have our voice in such a group and we are excited to share what is important for our customers and for us.
Diversity is crucial if we want a true debate on these topics and we are willing to play our role, not only for us, but to also give a voice to companies like ours (note that we are not that selfish 😋).
We also attended to a (double) conference about opportunities (mainly aimed for French companies) in countries where digital is growing, part of a work driven by Olivier Midière, Digital ambassador of the Medef.
You can get more details on the mission (in French) on the Digital Disruption Lab website.
This time, the conference was about Philippines and Singapore.
Manila, Philippines (credits Shutterstock)
After an introductory talk of Theresa P. Lazaro, Philippines ambassador in France, we listened to a sum up of the Philippines digital ecosystem.
Retrieving all the relevant information we heard will be very difficult as the presentations were very condensed but we will note that the Philippines are a young Startup Nation. The first incubator was built in 2000 (Ayala) but the first Startup Weekend was organised in 2011 only. When in 2011 there was only 3 incubators, it’s impressive to see that there are about 50 incubators today.
We can also underline that in 2014, 15 VC were identified as active in the Philippines, investing an average of USD 100K in Philippines Startups.
Though investors are helping early stage startups, it appears to be very difficult to receive the next investments that will help a company to scale.
We don’t believe seeking for investments is always the best solution to start a business. For this reason, we particularly appreciated the intervention of Kat Borlongan, co-founder of five-by-five, who showed us why the Philippines are such a good place to be an entrepreneur in.
We will remember that the Philippines have the biggest amount of SMS users and more importantly today, that the Filipinos spend an average of more than 4 hours per day on social media, what makes them the people spending the biggest amount of time on social media in the World.
[read the full report about the Philippines (in French)]
Singapore (credits Shutterstock)
After the Philippines came a presentation of the Singaporean digital ecosystem with a talk of the Singaporean Ambassador in France Zainal Arif Mantaha. The substance is different and Singapore shows a true long term digital strategy.
We received a complete presentation of the Singaporean Digital Strategy and the level is different, even intimidating sometime.
What will we remember? The average startup creator is 33 year old and there is a true strategic vision.
To feed this strategy, there are plenty of support programs around innovation and company creation. However, someone who is not resident will need a USD 50k package to start.
The infrastructures are excellents and big IT actors are present as well as famous schools and universities.
Let’s add also a stability and a good level of life and we have one of the place to be for entrepreneurs in the world.
There are of course drawbacks such as the very high cost of life and cost of talents. As a foreigner, there are, like in many other countries, criteria to take into consideration. It is obvious that a foreigner needs to accept the local people will be favoured somehow and the business rules must be learnt and followed as well.
Unlike the Philippines, scaling up seems to be easier as there is even a government program to help the businesses scaling up (Spring Singapore).
[read the full report about Singapore(in French)]