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Addressing academic failure through the creation of a business project

Re-engaging Seine-Saint-Denis Middle school students by exploring the professional world through the Mini-Entreprise®

Les Idéateurs's objective is to connect schools and businesses to stimulate students’ entrepreneurial spirit. Through its “School-Business path, Together for Tomorrow” program, this association allows students with difficulties, mostly students from SEGPA* classes, to have better knowledge of the workplace. Discovering professions, experiencing different workshops, creating a business project… These are the many challenges that Seine-Saint-Denis students tackle every year (Paris area). The Air Liquide Foundation supports les Idéateurs to implement its Mini-Entreprise® program in 3 Middle Schools.

Unequal access to education and employment

According to multiple studies, social background could have an important influence on academic failure. The SEGPA students are even more exposed to this risk because of the lack of resources in the education system and because of the difficulties families face trying to adapt to their child’s specific needs. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a great increase in school dropouts in those classes.

France is one of the developed countries where social background influences academic performances the most. *

Preventing academic failure and unemployment among young people

In order to fight against the inequalities faced by the students in the SEGPA classes in Seine-Saint-Denis and academic failure, Les Idéateurs has created the Mini-Entreprise® program. It encourages students to collectively find an idea, be part of a group and achieve a project. It aims for a transmission of multiple skills such as: 

  • expertise and soft skills needed in the workplace;

  • digital skills;

  • understanding of new information and communication technologies;

  • psychosocial skills;

  • business knowledge and the economic ecosystem.

Close to 700 000 supported students in 16 years*

In 2021-20 69 SEGPA classes students supported

A National 100 000 mini-entrepreneurs educated in 2023

The Mini-Entreprise® Program

The Mini-Entreprise® program has three possible streams that schools can choose from:

  • Mini S: 1 creativity day - students get together to solve a practical problem: encouraging recycling, conceiving a smart house, etc;

  • Mini M: a 14 to 30 hours program - students create an entrepreneurial project to solve a problem,  by starting with a brainstorm, doing a market and feasibility survey, dividing the activities in different departments, and, at the end, presenting their project in front of a jury;

  • Mini L: a 1 to 2 years program - conception of a project from the idea to the launch (for example: computer classes for seniors, solar-powered bluetooth speakers…). During this time, students create a business, split into different departments, and are in charge of the whole project management. They are supported by a project facilitator from the association, who helps them understand the implication and the role of each participant. Together, they deal with the challenges of creating a business, in particular to finance the projects. During this program, the association holds different Mini-Entreprises® fairs (at the departmental, regional and national scales) where students present their project in front of a jury. This is a fondamental time during which students learn many skills such as assertiveness, public speaking and networking.

What the Air Liquide Foundation is doing

The Air Liquide Foundation is financing the implementation of two Mini L and one Mini S in 3 different Middle Schools in Seine-Saint-Denis. It also contributes to the project’s operation and the coordination of the Job Fair and the “One day, one job” initiatives that include the participation of the beneficiary schools.

Les Idéateurs


“This project has a real local impact by providing a program and additional skills to students facing educational difficulties and who come from modest backgrounds. The final objective is to foster a better professional insertion by acting on expertise and soft skills that students will apply, starting this year, in their search for an internship.”

Sandrine Thiriet, HR Project Manager, AIr Liquide France Industrie