International business school HEC runs a social business incubator, StandUp, to support women from low-income neighbourhoods within the context of female entrepreneurship. The programme supports women with their business ideas, to encourage female entrepreneurship in sensitive urban zones.


Throughout January, women from underprivileged neighbourhoods in France were able to work on their business models alongside students from HEC.

StandUp is a free of charge, structured yet flexible programme that enables participants to develop their businesses with expert advice and support.

Two years ago it progressed from a one-week project into a long-term support programme with three week sessions in January, as well as two summer sessions. The StandUp programme set a target of 380 beneficiaries in 2018.

Hafida Guebli who participated in StandUp, developed an affinity for business at the age of 13. “I used to rent my dresses to classmates. I continued doing this for a long time, I even created a Facebook page for it at 18,” she said.

Since then, she has founded Nebys, an app that puts tenants and owners in direct contact. It also adapts itself to people with disabilities.

Another participant from 2016, Stéphanie, enjoyed StandUp as it enabled her to think about her business beyond the course. She founded Jo & Avrel, a specialist grocery shop selling African products, with two other StandUp participants.

According to a 2015 study published by the Research Institute for the Study and Monitoring of Living Standards CREDOC, 2 % of women are business owners in sensitive urban zones, compared with 6 % outside of these areas. So, it cannot be said that female entrepreneurship doesn’t exist in these areas, but it is rarer. Initiatives like StandUp are a positive encourager in these communities.

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