France leaves no stone unturned when it comes to promoting innovation. To ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to improve the world we live in, the “La French Tech” initiative has come up with a specific program to advance diversity.

On October 17 last year, 35 startups received awards as part of the inaugural edition of French Tech Diversity, a program created by the government to promote social diversity within the French startup ecosystem.

“A good idea should never fall by the wayside just because the person behind it doesn’t know how to develop it further,” says Louis Schweitzer, the government’s chief investment commissioner.

274 projects & 422 candidates!

The 274 projects and 422 candidates were judged in terms of their startup’s level of innovation, but their individual backgrounds also played a part in the selection.

“Most startuppers are men, and 90% of them are graduates from business or engineering schools. […] When choosing the winners, many factors were taken into consideration, including the founders’ motivation, whether they are receiving any state aid, like a scholarship, and whether or not they come from a disadvantaged background,” says Marie Gallas-Amblard, head of communication at “La French Tech”.

Did you know?

13 different types of businesses featured in the first French Tech Diversity program. Each of the 35 winners were rewarded with a grant worth €45,000, and will be supported by a business incubator for one year. Sixty percent of the winners were women, three of whom are featured below.

Charlène Guicheron is the co-founder of N-Sens, a web development agency that she created while still at university. In 2017, she launched Kreezalid, a SAAS (software licensing and delivery model) solution that enables anyone to create an online marketplace in just a few minutes.

In the same year, Charlotte Ogé co-created Ambulix, a platform where users can book an ambulance online when they can’t go to a medical appointment by themselves. This website can also be used by businesses to improve their communication and management skills, thanks to its in-built planning, geo-tracking and billing tools.

Loubna Ksibi is the 25-year-old co-founder of Meet My Mamma, a social innovation startup which empowers women, while offering consumers some of the best exotic cuisine in France. The catering company’s chefs are “mammas”: women who are either refugees or French citizens of foreign origin living on the breadline. They come from far and wide, from countries such as Somalia, Syria, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and India, which means that the possibilities are endless for anyone seeking original dishes for an event.

“My partners and I started from scratch. We would work together in cafés, and thanks to the internet, we managed to get a lot done in the first six months. That is how we were chosen for the French Tech Diversity program, due to which we now have an office at Station F. It’s open 24/7 and it’s a great place, which has really boosted our productivity. Our mammas now cook in a production space in the Parisian suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine, where they have gone from three to eight chefs,” she says.

Ksibi is also the organizer of “Startup weekend banlieues”. As a former participant in the pre-existing “Startup weekend” initiative, she decided to apply the concept to the suburbs (banlieues) of Paris. At the end of September, she and Faizel Nguyen, who is now the organization’s president, met people who are interested in creating their own startup but lack any form of business awareness, and taught them what a business plan is, thereby empowering them to make their dreams come true.

With this initiative, she is proof that when more people are given a chance, they then share their knowledge with others. This cycle is changing mindsets across France, with innovation now becoming open to anyone.

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