Starting a small business in France comes with various opportunities for financial support and assistance. This guide outlines the key mechanisms accessible to micro-entrepreneurs, providing an overview of national, regional, and specialised aids.
Table of contents
National public aids for micro-enterprises
When venturing into the world of micro-enterprises, a multitude of questions often arise about the various forms of assistance available to entrepreneurs. In France, the government provides a range of aids aimed at bolstering new businesses. Here’s a detailed overview of the key national public aids accessible to micro-entrepreneurs.
> You might be interested in this article: A guide to micro-enterprise in France
Return to work assistance allowance (ARE)
Eligibility and conditions
Entrepreneurs who transition from being job seekers to business creators can still receive the Return to Work Assistance Allowance (ARE).
To benefit from the ARE and combine micro-enterprise and unemployment, you must have worked for a minimum period of 6 months (130 days or 910 hours) in the 24 months preceding the end of your employment contract.
Amount and duration
The ARE for business creators is calculated based on what the entrepreneur would have received if they hadn’t resumed work. 70% of the gross monthly salary from the new activity is subtracted from this.
The number of compensable days is determined by the income generated from the new self-employed venture.
It’s crucial to note that the total income from the new venture and ARE must not surpass the previous gross salary.
Claiming the ARE
When you register with Pôle emploi, you complete, at the same time, your application for return to work assistance allowance (ARE). This request is transmitted to Pôle emploi automatically.
In principle, all the documents necessary for the calculation of your future allowance (activities carried out, pay slips, employer certificates, etc.) have already been sent by your former employer(s) and/or other social protection organisations. (health insurance, family allowance fund, etc.).
Entrepreneurs are required to regularly report their income to Pôle emploi to remain eligible for ARE.
Assistance for taking over or creating a business (ARCE)
Who can apply?
ARCE is designed to financially support business creators and buyers in making their projects viable. It’s awarded by Pôle emploi.
Entrepreneurs can opt for ARCE if they’re job seekers and beneficiaries of ARE, or if they initiate the business creation process after their notice period, reclassification leave, or mobility leave.
Amount and payment
ARCE consists of receiving unemployment benefits in the form of capital. Its amount is equal to 45% of the amount of rights to the ARE remaining to be paid at the start of the activity. A deduction of 3% will be applied to the amount of capital, corresponding to the financing of supplementary pensions.
Payment is made in two instalments:
- the first payment, half of the aid amount, is made at the start of the activity, as soon as the conditions for granting ARCE are met
- the second payment takes place six months after the date of the first, provided that the applicant is still carrying out his professional activity
Applying for ARCE
To benefit from ARCE, you must:
- declare your takeover or creation project to Pôle emploi, then complete the ARCE application form which must be submitted to Pôle emploi
- justify the creation or takeover of a business by producing, in particular, a Kbis extract
- justify obtaining assistance for business creation and takeover (ACRE).
Assistance for business creators or buyers (ACRE)
Overview of ACRE
ACRE entails a partial or total exemption from specific social security contributions. It’s extended to business creators and buyers during their inaugural year of operation.
Notably, contributions related to health, maternity, disability, death, old-age insurance, and family benefits are exempted. However, contributions for CSG-CRDS, work accident risk, supplementary retirement, Fnal, professional training, and mobility aren’t covered by ACRE.
Eligibility criteria for ACRE
Since January 1, 2020, to benefit from ACRE you must:
take over or create a business (create or take over an industrial, commercial, artisanal, agricultural or liberal economic activity, in the form of an individual business or company, provided that you exercise control over it), or undertake the exercise of a other self-employed profession, including for a micro entrepreneur.
AND be in one of the following situations:
- compensated job seeker,
uncompensated job seeker
- registered with Pôle emploi for more than six months during the last 18 months
- beneficiary of the specific solidarity allowance (ASS) or the active solidarity income (RSA)
- be between 18 years old and under 26 years old
- be under 30 years old and recognised as disabled
- be under 30 years old and not compensated because you do not meet the conditions of sufficient duration of activity to qualify for unemployment benefit
- be an employee or a person dismissed from a company subject to one of the safeguard, recovery or liquidation procedures which takes over all or part of a company
- have concluded a business project support contract (Cape)
- create or take over a business located in a priority district of the city (QPV)
- benefit from the shared child education benefit (PreParE)
- be self-employed and not covered by the micro-social regime
Please note: You are eligible for ACRE provided you have not benefited from it in the previous three years.
Applying for ACRE
For micro-entrepreneurs under the micro-enterprise regime, an application must be submitted to URSSAF at the time of creating or taking over the business.
Self-employed workers not covered by the micro-enterprise regime are automatically exempted, although verifications may be conducted later if necessary.
> You might be interested in this article: Understanding URSSAF when working in France
Exemptions under ACRE
The extent of exemptions varies based on income levels. In 2022, total exemption is granted if professional income is less than 32,994 €. There’s a degressive exemption for income between 32,994 € and 43,992 €, and no exemption for income exceeding 43,992 €.
Combining ACRE with other aids
ACRE can be combined with the new support for business creation or takeover (Nacre). Entrepreneurs receiving ARE can also apply for aid for resumption or business creation (ARCE). ACRE can be accumulated with specific social minimums for a specified period.
The activity bonus
The Activity Bonus is a crucial social benefit aimed at providing additional financial support to individuals with modest incomes. Notably, this assistance isn’t confined to conventional employees alone; self-employed individuals can also avail of it, subject to specific conditions.
To qualify for the Activity Bonus, individuals must fulfil the following prerequisites:
- Age requirement: The applicant must be 18 years of age or older.
- Engagement in professional activity: The individual must be actively involved in a professional occupation.
- Residency in France: It is imperative to maintain a stable and effective residence in France.
- Citizenship or legal residence: The applicant must be a French citizen, a member of the European Economic Area, Swiss, or a citizen of another nation legally residing in France for a minimum of five years, possessing a valid residence permit for employment.
Women entrepreneurs: specific measures to support you in your project
If you’re a woman venturing into entrepreneurship, rest assured that specific measures are in place to provide you with financial assistance and unwavering support.
Wom'energy: Fostering Women's Entrepreneurship
The Entreprendre Network is a collaborative network comprising both men and women dedicated to fostering job creation in the region.
The Wom’energy program, crafted especially to bolster female entrepreneurship, stands as a testament to this commitment. It endeavours to bolster female business leaders through every phase of their project’s growth and development. This is achieved through a combination of peer-to-peer mentorship and a prestigious loan ranging from 15,000 € to 50,000 €.
Regional initiatives for facilitating female entrepreneurship
Since the establishment of the 2012 framework agreement for women’s entrepreneurship, forged between the State and the Caisse des Dépôts, annual Regional Action Plans (PAR) have been formulated across territories to bolster women’s involvement in entrepreneurship.
These initiatives draw on central services and associations that champion business creation, striving to evaluate the most effective tools and systems for each geographical area.
Over twenty regions have already enacted concrete action plans to champion the creation and acquisition of businesses by women across diverse sectors, including but not limited to industry, construction, digital technology, and innovation.
For precise details, don’t hesitate to approach your town hall, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI), or the Chambers of Trade and Crafts (CMA) in your vicinity.
> You might be interested in this article: What activities can be carried out in a micro-enterprise?
Regional public aids for micro-enterprises
Your region, along with the council and various associations, might provide aid and support contracts, previously known as the NACRE system. Additionally, specific competitions may grant access to prizes with monetary rewards. For detailed information about available aid and competitions in your area, reach out to your Regional Council or explore the Aides-entreprises.fr search engine. Further insights can be found on the Bpifrance website.
Pôle Emploi: Stay updated on employment assistance benefits and support programs. Visit the website.
BpiFrance: Explore financial aids and resources for businesses in France. Visit the website.
Aides-Entreprises: A comprehensive search engine for finding aids and subsidies available for businesses. Visit the website.
Chambers of Commerce and Industry: Connect with local CCI offices for regional business support. Visit the website.