Businesswomen: shaking up the status quo in France

Orange is strongly committed to doing its part to shake up the French patriarchy.
  • Only 10% of start-ups are currently founded by women.
  • These companies only receive 7% of the total amount of funding raised in France.
  • Companies with at least one female founder are 63% more successful than male-dominated businesses, proof again (if it were necessary) that inclusion and diversity are a performance driver.

Through its own initiatives that now span the entire nation, or through partnerships with local and regional players and associations, Orange is increasing its support for women entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Orange is also trying to play a role in encouraging grassroots initiatives for women and girls

For example, with the Orange Digital Prize awarded at Science Factor (opens in a new window), which helps middle and high school students – especially girls – to build a career in the digital world.

Focus on recent initiatives in France

1. Orange initiatives in France

In 2018, Orange launched the #FemmesEntrepreneuses programme to reflect the Group’s commitment to women’s entrepreneurship in all territories.

Fabienne Dulac, Deputy CEO of the Group and Chief Executive Director of Orange France France, has pledged, on behalf of Orange France, to lend her support to 100 women in starting a new venture.

In each of the 10 regions in metropolitan France and in France’s overseas departments and territories, Orange will support 10 women start-up founders in various ways.

In concrete terms, the #FemmesEntrepreneuses programme launched on 25 September 2018 in Marseille, with the first 10 start-ups selected by a jury of Orange professionals.

The programme offers various forms of support, defined according to each case’s specific needs and capacities:

  • Integrating businesswomen into Orange. Through mentoring days, each start-up founder will enjoy professional advice on marketing, customer relations, finance, tech and IT. She will also benefit from a permanent or temporary office for an agreed period, or a day in an Orange store to promote and test her offer.
  • Change management. An Orange expert is available to help the founder for a few hours or days on specific topics such as solving a problem or passing a major milestone in her project.
  • Meetings and exchanges. These open discussions enable the founder to share ideas on new projects via pitch sessions with Orange teams, or fundraising training sessions.

Find out more (in French):
Orange lance le programme #FemmesEntrepreneuses (opens in a new window), l’engagement pour l’entreprenariat féminin dans l’ensemble des territoires.

CEO: Carole Zisa-Garat, Graduate of the Ecole des Mines in Paris, member of the Conseil National du Numérique in 2016 and 2017.

Accelerated by Orange Fab France during season 2 in September 2014, this start-up offers innovative services to vulnerable people and their families.

  • Telegrafik’s intelligent software platform uses data from sensors placed around the home or care home to provide monitoring and alerting services.

The first solution lunched by the start-up was the OTONO-ME service, which monitors frail or elderly people living independently at home. Unlike the other offers on the market, OTONO-ME doesn’t require a wearable pendant or personal alarm: it takes care of everything!
Sensors placed around the home monitor real-time activity. If an anomaly is detected (for example, a prolonged period of inactivity, activity at unusual hours etc), an alert is automatically sent to relatives or emergency services.

Find out more:
> The start-up’s website (opens in a new window)
> Meet Bertrand Rojat, Deputy VP Orange Technocentre

2. Partner initiatives

As part of its policy to support socio-economic and cultural development throughout its French territories, Orange collaborates with third parties (La Ruche, Simplon…) to promote and support women’s entrepreneurship, in particular through the launch of dedicated programmes and training courses.

1. The “Ambitieuses” (Achievers) at la Ruche (a collaborative co-working space and incubator): call for projects
An acceleration programme in the Tech For Good domain dedicated to female-founded start-ups in Ile-de-France, the Loire Valley and Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

Since the competition drew to a close on 16 April 2018, 7 winners have benefited from an intensive six-month acceleration programme within the La Ruche incubator: tailor-made support that includes mentoring, workshops, networking with experts and intensive preparation to progress from a business plan to the fundraising phase.

Find out more (in French):
> La Ruche lance l’appel à projets « les Ambitieuses » (opens in a new window)
> Le site des « Ambitieuses » (opens in a new window)

2. #Makeuses from, a solidarity social enterprise under the “French Tech” label: call for projects

The competition is sponsored by the Simplon Foundation along with its partners: SNCF Foundation, Manpower Group Foundation and Orange.

It aims to increase the visibility and financial support for women in the digital manufacturing sector to strengthen diversity in this future industry domain.

3 prizes, each comprising 4,000€ of funding and a 3,000€ grant to enter’s Solidarity FabLab in Paris (set up in partnership with the Orange Foundation), were awarded on 8 March 2018 to enable the winners to develop their projects.

3. Hackathon…

In partnership with the Women Hackers Action Tank, Orange launched a hackathon competition on 19 October 2018 in Paris, a national hackathon competition around the theme of Women’s Entrepreneurship.

The #FemmesEntrepreneuses hackathon is a marathon of female innovation that promotes the invention, design and prototyping of products and services along with women’s entrepreneurship. Men are welcome, but the teams are led by women.

Find out more (in French):
> Hackathon Femmes & Entrepreneuriat

On 27 June 2018, the Femmes@Numérique (Women@Digital) Foundation was inaugurated.

Orange is engaged in the programme and supports the Foundation, which is sponsored by Mounir Mahjoubi, French Secretary of State for Digital, to promote the position of women in the IT sector.

Orange is collaborating with 42 founding companies and 45 associations, several of which are already Orange partners.

The Orange Group has been committed to gender equality in the workplace for more than 10 years, in particular developing equal access to technical professions and raising awareness of these roles among young girls so they can start considering them as viable options for career progression.

The directory of 10,000 women working in digital professions

To raise awareness and celebrate women in tech, the Femmes@Numérique Foundation has created a directory of “10,000 women in digital”.

In a sector still dominated by men, the purpose of the directory is to help the Femmes@Numérique Foundation to promote greater numbers of female employees in digital professions across France.

By becoming registered in this directory, women working in one of the many digital professions agree to be contacted by partners of the Femmes@Numérique programme to share best practices around parity and carry out voluntary activities to support the initiative.

Through the “Become a digital entrepreneur” programme, the Group provides training, funding and support to employees wishing to create their own start-up. Morgane Soulier, a former Orange employee, benefited from this programme to launch her start-up. It offers a web platform and app for fighting against eating disorders (especially anorexia).

Find out more (in French):
> Freeleat’s website (opens in a new window)

3. Initiatives launched in both France and MEA

range Fab France announced the launch of this initiative on 24 May 2018 during the Viva Technology tradeshow. It is dedicated to businesswomen from all over the world. Over the course of the summer, many women applied: Orange has already received more than 300 applications from all walks of life!

On 28 September 2018 at Orange Gardens (the Orange eco-innovation campus located in the south of Paris), the nine winners of the first Women Start promotion were revealed.
Seven are from France and two from Africa.

The objective of this acceleration programme: business. It aims to strengthen the relationship between Orange and start-ups founded by women through signing commercial partnerships and preparing them for international expansion.

Find out more about the 9 start-ups supported in season 1:
> 1st promo for “Women Start”: ready, let’s go!
> Orange Fab France launches “Women Start” (opens in a new window)

Founder: Domitille Esnard-Domerego

Key Infuser designs and develops innovative robotics solutions. Domitille Esnard-Domerego and her team created the patented robot KiOne, which aims to attract customers to shops, events and online stores while educating its target audience and simplifying life for the retailer. The user can try out any digital product (smartphone, connected device, applications) via the robot thanks to its touch technology and artificial intelligence. More than 10 000 presentations have been set up as for today.

Key Infuser signed a three-way partnership in October 2018 with Orange and Samsung to deploy its demo robots compatible with the new Galaxy Note 9 on an international scale. Today, robots are located in 17 Orange stores in 7 countries: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Spain, Slovakia and Romania. This partnership between a telecoms operator, a device manufacturer and a start-up shows the innovation that’s happening along the value chain in the retail sector. This collaboration has allowed the development of new features. And now, KiOne can write with the Galaxy note stylet!

Key Infuser est présent avec Orange sur le Women’s Forum à Paris en novembre 2018.

Find out more:
> Le site de la start-up (opens in a new window)

Founder: Arielle Kitio
“Make it easier to identify, coach and enable young tech geniuses. Because every child deserves to be a superhero.”

A pioneer in the design of fun and personalised learning platforms for children’s coding and robotics in French-speaking Africa, Caysti specialises in the training, mentoring and promotion of innovative tools and personalised learning methodologies that promote equal access to high-quality education for young children.

Caysti is a hub for introducing kids to digital technology in order to boost their creativity and promote entrepreneurship. It offers after-school programmes and highly interactive and fun software (abcCode), based around a unique 6-way methodology: Discover, Learn, Practice, Create, Problem-Solve, Have Fun.

The start-up provides kids with technical skills and access to technology, while also giving them the right frame of mind to succeed in their projects. By doing so, it facilitates the rise of the next generation of African digital technology leaders and encourages diversity in this sector of the economy.

Multi-award winning

Caysti was one of finalists for the Orange Social Venture Prize 2017, representing Cameroon.

In October 2018, Caysti was ranked in the top 50 innovations in the education sector by the Union Africaine.

The start-up took part in the Women Start season led by Orange Fab France in 2018.

Find out more (in French):
> The start-up’s website (opens in a new window)
> abcCode programmes (opens in a new window)

Founder: Naledi Magowe

Brastorne has developed a platform that enables people to access messaging applications similar to Whatsapp but via USSD technology, to offer its customers cost-effective access to advanced features through a simple (non smart) mobile phone. The platform also provides simplified access to Wikipedia, email (Gmail, Yahoo…) and an mAgri service, which offers farmers the latest agricultural information and prices as well as a marketplace.

Brastorne has worked with Orange Botswana for three years, and has now grown to a 40-strong start-up with more than 100,000 active users. The team is actively preparing to diversify into non-USSD services, and is testing a very promising concierge service in terms of customer acquisition and usage in Botswana. Orange Botswana has contributed to Brastorne’s success through the launch of an SMS campaign for its customers.

Find out more (in French):
> The start-up’s website (opens in a new window)

Founded by Rania Belkahia, President.

Afrimarket is an African e-commerce platform (with a particular presence in West Africa). Initially intended for African populations living in France, for whom it simplified the sending of goods to relatives in Africa, the company has gradually extended its offer into a full e-commerce solution. The offer is now available in five countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroun, Benin and Mali.

Its focus? Retailers themselves don’t sell their products directly on the platform; instead they go through Afrimarket, which prioritises the ones best adapted to consumer demand.

Another feature is the strong investment in a high-quality delivery service. Afrimarket has developed a unique GPS location tool to ensure deliveries arrive without relying on the conventional address system and has put in place an entire supply chain to deliver products more efficiently to customers.

Afrimarket was part of season 1 of the Orange Fab France accelerator programme in Aril 2014. It then participated in several fundraisers supported by Orange Digital Ventures, enabling the company to accelerate its expansion.

Find out more:
> The start-up’s website (opens in a new window)

Watch Afrimarket in season 1 of Start-up Stories