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Re-entering the Workforce by Starting a Business

A shared space is opening in Paris's 19th district to promote products from entrepreneurs supported by the Positive Planet organization

In the city's most disadvantaged neighborhoods, the potential for starting new businesses exists, but the rate at which they are created remains below the national average. Positive Planet works to combat poverty and exclusion by fostering entrepreneurship and helping businesses succeed over the long term. By opening Positive Shop, a place for entrepreneurs primarily from disadvantaged neighborhoods, Positive Planet will be able to help these entrepreneurs create sustainable businesses without them having to take on a significant amount of risk as they launch their business. The Air Liquide Foundation is supporting this innovative project.

The Cause

The potential of the city's most disadvantaged neighborhoods is currently underutilized. There are many obstacles to prevent people from starting businesses. Residents are poorly informed about the process for starting a business and have trouble finding the resources they need. Access to capital is another problem that discourages people getting started. The result? A business start-up rate that lags behind the national average, despite real potential: the percentage of businesses that make it to three years in disadvantaged neighborhoods stands at 77%, on par with the 74% figure in other neighborhoods1.

1. Study of entrepreneurship in vulnerable urban areas, 2016 Terra Nova and Bpifrance Le Lab

1,200 businesses created each year

8,800 jobs created since 2006

Project Goal

The Positive Planet organization has extensive experience with out-of-work populations, and that is why it is opening a store that will give entrepreneurs the opportunity to test sales of their products as they launch their businesses. Seizing the opportunity provided by GIE Paris Commerce to develop vacant retail space, the Positive Shop is opening its doors in Paris's 19th district.  

The goal for this space is to help the beneficiaries of Positive Planet develop their product lines to ensure the long-term sustainability of their businesses. Located in the disadvantaged Danube–Solidarité–Marseillaise neighborhood, this welcoming 68 square meter space will also host networking events in collaboration with the local community.

The Work

The project will help these entrepreneurs create sustainable businesses without them having to take on a significant amount of risk as they launch their business. The Positive Shop will use original methods to promote their products in an effort to bring customers in contact with merchants. A true community hub, the space can be rented by "Positiveurs" by the week or the month at competitive rates, keeping to a coherent overall theme. In addition, a series of events will be held in the space in an effort to strengthen the Positiveur community and create synergy in the community by working with other employment organizations and companies.

Showcasing between 24 and 36 Positiveurs each year

What the Air Liquide Foundation is doing

Funds from the Air Liquide Foundation are being used to set up the Positive Shop and to purchase furnishings, office equipment and computers.


"Residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods have the talent, the skills and the ideas, but have trouble expressing them. They may have had to work in the restaurant industry, but sometimes life finds a way of bringing entrepreneurship back into the picture. This is often the case when they lose their job or experience health problems that prevent them from working; these life events can be transformed into a force for good. There are often psychological barriers and glass ceilings that must be overcome, as well as concrete problems like securing a loan and leasing a retail space. That is why the Positive Shop gives our Positiveurs a place to test their products and their options, to build their confidence and tweak their concepts based on actual results. Two or three Positiveurs sell their products at the same time, which generates traffic and helps break them out of the feeling of isolation many entrepreneurs experience. That makes them better able to present their business to lenders and property owners."

Amélie Fievez, Paris Regional Manager, Positive Planet

Positive Planet