Interest free loans and gurantees for your French business

By Valérie Aston on 22 June 2009 · Viewed 5214 times · Questions

It is getting more and more difficult for entrepreneurs to borrow money from the banks. Last week I mentioned the Prêt Création d’Entreprise (PCE) as the best scheme to garantee your business loan, for business with an investment below 45,000€. Today I will cover a few other schemes which could help you convince the bank manager to invest in your business:

  • Garantee on business loan for women entrepreneurs - Fonds de Garantie à l’Initiaitve des Femmes (FGIF)
  • Interest free loan via the Chamber of Commerce and their banking partners - Entreprendre En France network (EEF)
  • Interest free loan for the unemployed - Nouveau dispositif d’Aide à la Création et à la Reprise d’Entreprise (NACRE)

Fonds de Garantie à l’Initiaitve des Femmes (FGIF)

Women entrepreneurs can request a guarantee from the Fonds de Garantie à l’Initiaitve des Femmes (FGIF). This national fund managed by France Active will generate a guarantee of 70% on business loan up to 38 000€. The maximum guarantee will be limited to 27 000€ for loans over 38 000€. The FGIF guarantee will cost you 2.5% of the guaranteed amount. In order to set up the guarantee, your project will have to be approved by a committee held by France Active. Members of these commissions usually are bank managers, accountants and business advisers, acting voluntarily on behalf of their organisation. A standard application would include a market study and a financial plan, which France Active would help you complete. 

Entreprendre En France network (EEF)

Interest free loans are also available for businesses registering with the Chambre de Commerce et de L’Industrie (CCI) via their Entreprendre En France network (EEF). This network provides business advice with access to experts such as lawyers, accountants or notaires. They also have an agreement with most banks, enabling entrepreneurs to get an interest free loan ranging from 5 000€ to 7 000€, depending on the bank. You will have to present your project to the EEF committee (short market research and provisional plan) and answer a few questions related to your business. Questions vary from one project to another and could be related to your estimated turnover, your stock and suppliers, your marketing strategy, etc. Get in touch with a business adviser from your Chambre du Commerce, who will brief you and help you complete the dossier.

The Chambre de Métiers has a similar initiative and provides interest free loans for artisans. Regional conventions are signed with several banks and loans may vary from 5 000€  to 11 000€. Once again, get in touch with your local Chambre de Métiers to check which banks have a partnership and what is the average loan.

Nouveau dispositif d’Aide à la Création et à la Reprise d’Entreprise (NACRE)

If you are currently working on a business idea but are still registered with Pole Emploi (former ANPE), you may also benefit from NACRE - Nouveau dispositif d’Aide à la Création et à la Reprise d’Entreprise. This new scheme launched last April by the Governement, enables you to benefit from the free support of a business adviser, as well as the ability to request an interest free loan called “prêt d’autonomy” ranging from 1 000€ to 10 000€ and reimbursable over 5 years. Business advisors from the Boutiques de Gestion, Chambre de Commerce or Chambre de Métiers have been selected to help the unemployed start their business. According to your personal situation, they will help you complete the market research, complete your financial and provisionnal plan and assess the various help you may be entitled to. They will also help you prepare your file for the committee who will allocate the interest free loan.

You are eligible for NACRE if you:

  • are unemployed with benefit
  • have been unemployed without benefits for at least six months over the past 18 months
  • are a single parent receiving the ‘Allocation Parent Isole’ (API)
  • are receiving the “Revenu de Solidarité Active” (RSA former Revenu Minimum d’Insertion RMI)
  • are unemployed and over 50 years old

Aide aux Chomeurs Créant ou Reprenant une Entreprise’ (ACCRE)

Finally, check whether you are entitled to the social charge exoneration ‘Aide aux Chomeurs Créant ou Reprenant une Entreprise’ (ACCRE). Under ACCRE, during your first year of business your social charges will be 25% of what you would otherwise pay. In the second year this figure rises to 50% and in the third year 75%.  The eligibility for ACCRE is similar to those for NACRE listed above. The ACCRE application form is available online or at the Centre de Formalités des Entreprises and should be returned to URSSAF within 45 days of your registration. ACCRE will be extended to year 2 and 3, provided you remain within the yearly turnover limit of 32,000€ for services and 80,000€ for trade.

Now you may be thinking “that sounds like a lot of paperwork to me!”. Fortunately all these committees will request the same information, which usually comes down to a basic market research and a financial plan. The good news is that you can add several scheme together. For example, let say that you plan to buy a restaurant and have an overall investment of 43 000€. Let say that you are investing 20% of that amount, you could position a prêt création d’entreprise for 7 000€, an interest free loan with EEF for 5 000€, and a NACRE loan for another 7 000€. This would leave you with a bank loan of 15 400€ on which the PCE would generate a guarantee for 70%. You would have considerably reduced the risk for the bank, hence having more chance to secure your business loan.

Useful websites

Valerie Lemiere: Start Business in France

About the author: Valérie Aston

I've been helping people who want to start or already have a small business set up in France since 2009. After graduating from a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, I worked as a senior marketing consultant in the UK and France for various International companies. I worked as a conseillère en création d'entreprises (senior business advisor) for BGE here in France and run this independent business on a daily basis.