“To make businesses grow, you have to make entrepreneurs grow”

You are president of the IME (the national network of entrepreneurial mentoring institutes dedicated to high-growth SMEs) and president of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Has the world of business creation been yours since your beginnings?

Domenico Retino (Dr.). Yes, undeniably. In 1986, at the age of 24, I created my first company with two friends: a recruiting and temporary employment agency with a network of agencies where 1,200 people worked a day. We sold it 20 years later with a turnover of 35 million euros. At the time we didn’t say “I want to do entrepreneurship”. I had to make a living and I wanted to try. Since then I have dedicated my career to the world of business and entrepreneurship, with the main mission of supporting young people who drop out of school to get started.

How would you define your entrepreneurial spirit?

Benedetta Sanson (BS). I didn’t like being in an organization and depending on a hierarchy. I had a lot of ideas and wanted to go fast. At the time it was less easy to undertake and it took me a while to get started. I founded my first company on my own, Florescens, to help French VSEs find their market. I was immediately attracted to the world of VSEs and SMEs because what mattered to me and what still matters to me is to see my impact concretely and it is easier to observe it on small structures. Passionate about marketing, I noticed that companies that didn’t have a marketing strategy would quickly be overwhelmed and with Florenscens, I embarked on this idea of ​​helping VSEs structure their marketing approach.

How did your paths cross?

BS. I started with a fear in the stomach because I was alone and without support except for some practical aspects. I was wondering how to proceed when Dominique Restino opened (in 2007) the Mentoring program at CCI Paris Ile-de-France, dedicated to companies with very high growth potential. Sure, I didn’t meet the criteria, but I wanted to meet him. It took nine months to get back to me but when we met we realized we shared the same values. He told me about one of his projects: what would become the Moovjee.

How did the idea of ​​creating the Moovjee come about?

DR. I discovered mentoring in Quebec in 2005 and this supportive approach has become my guideline. As a young elected member of the Paris Ile-de-France CCI, I quickly noticed that 97% of French companies had fewer than 20 employees. I was convinced by the idea that to make businesses grow, entrepreneurs must grow. Not on the technique, but on the “posture”, the corporate culture which is the major axis of a company.

This is what mentoring is for me. I believed that creating to take over a business was a real choice of life. With Bénédicte Sanson we totally shared this point of view. Our idea was to support these young people aged between 18 and 30 in the acquisition or creation because there was real potential in these young people who were not sufficiently valued. I knew that if I didn’t create something like this, I would regret it all my life, so we took the plunge and the Moovjee was born in 2009.

What are Moovjee’s core values ​​and your main areas of support?

DR and BS. Youth is at the heart of our philosophy and Moovjee is based on a strong commitment to trust in youth, kindness and sharing. Youth is the first natural wealth of a country. For a country at the center of the world, young people are needed who know how to build their own future. And every young person must have the possibility to choose entrepreneurship (creation or acquisition of a company) in his first professional life, whatever his training and whatever the sector of activity.

On this philosophy, we have oriented our actions on three axes: personal support centered on a mentoring program, the promotion of young entrepreneurship and the animation of a community with intergenerational exchanges.

What is mentoring based on and the relationship it generates?

BS. Mentoring is personal support of a confidential nature, provided by an experienced entrepreneur (the mentor) to a new entrepreneur (the learner) or who faces new challenges for a year. The mentor does not give advice but accompanies, motivates, helps to take a step back and promotes the development of the mentee’s know-how by questioning and opening the field of possibilities – with the aim of contributing to the growth of the entrepreneur, and therefore , of society.

DR. The mentoring relationship is an interpersonal relationship of support, discussion and learning. In 2013 I created with the state the “Mentoring Charter for Entrepreneurs” where I set out the fundamentals of the relationship. The mentor and the trainee are not in the same field of activity and engage in complete confidentiality because it allows you to really talk. They choose each other even if we help build couples. We have a mentor for a year because we have to delve into the subject before giving up completely. And the foundation of the relationship is trust and kindness. The experience that the mentor can provide is not passed on, it is shared.

When does entrepreneurial mentoring take place?

DR. He intervenes in the development phase of the company. Indeed, mentees are young shooters who have already passed the stage of setting up a business and want to solidify the foundations of their business. The core business of the association, mentoring for entrepreneurs, has the main objective of Moovjee: to support business creation among young people and to develop job creation in France. Since the creation of Moovjee (member of the Mentoring France Network we founded with Bénédicte in 2014), 2,800 young people have been supported as part of the mentoring program.

What do you think is essential to best support these young people?

BS. It is how we look at this youth and how we view it. These young people are our peers and when they finish their studies they don’t want to hear what they have to do. They have powerful ideas and have understood the need to react to their surroundings. You have to give them control, not try to influence them, but embrace what they are and want to do, as they are already entrepreneurs. Our only mission is to enable them to be daring and provide them with the guidance to increase their chances of success.

DR. We expanded our mentoring system when Moovjee was certified by the state as part of the “1 young, 1 solution” system for the “1 young, 1 mentor” call. Therefore, all young candidates can have free access to mentoring. Since this plan was launched in July 2021, they have massively responded to the call to multiply the number of young people supported by 6 each year.

As president of the CCI Paris Ile-de-France, how do you see the evolution of the business world?

DR. The CCI of Paris Ile-de-France is a very specific organization and it is also an entire center with business schools, the Gobelins, the Ferrandi cooking school, the Attitudes Day digital school that we created with La Colline Factory. In all our training courses we have created entrepreneurship modules designed to help young people to project themselves into the creation or takeover of a business, both with digital tools and in a “posture”.

I see that there are young people who want to undertake. Young people no longer want to wait 10 years to find the job they prefer. They already have experience in companies (especially through internships), which we had less than 30 years ago. I also think that there will be more development in manual and craft trades where there are also many innovations with electronics, home automation, digital, connected objects …

What was your intention to found the Moovjee Prize and what do you remember about this vintage 2022?

BS. This Award aims to highlight this youth. It allows them to expose themselves, to make themselves known. It is “the big party” for young entrepreneurs and we were the first to do so. This award also aims to raise awareness in society that a young 20-year-old entrepreneur is a credible person. It is the whole economy and society that must have a different view of entrepreneurship.

DR. The winners of the 2022 Moovjee Award clearly reflect the desire of young people to get involved. This year our theme was “Let’s change perspective, let’s change perspective with young entrepreneurs”. A strong theme chosen to promote the new path that young people are opening to us through their dynamism and their vision. By cleaning up the past, recycling the old, they innovate, improve the life of their neighbor, their neighborhood, their region … Of the 350 candidates, 58% are based outside Île-de-France and projects are as creative as they are meaningful.

What do you see as the current challenges for young entrepreneurs?

DR. They want to make an impact and they don’t want to start a business anymore to start a business. They also want to bring something more, a better life. Their difficulty today is that everything is going very fast. Speed ​​and immediacy are to be taken into consideration in an extremely significant way.

What message do you want to send today to young people who want to start?

BS. I want to tell them “listen to yourself and dare to go your way without being swayed. You must be able to listen to yourself and listen to your deep convictions “.

DR. Whether it’s a mentoring program or other support networks, don’t be alone. You must be accompanied because an accompanied entrepreneur is more likely to succeed than someone alone.

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