Winners of a “mini-business” creation competition, around twenty students from Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion are in Paris to publicize their projects. Healthy food, recycling, local products and short circuits… The representatives of the Overseas Territories have one thing in common: they defend ecological concepts.
“In Generally, when we think of bamboo, we think of Japan, pandas… No! We are Martinique!” The voice is clear and strong, the intention affirmed, the hand firm around the microphone. In a fluorescent green polo shirt, a frail and determined young woman begins her presentation. Jade is only 14 years old, she is a 3rd grade student at the Gérard Café college in Marin in Martinique. She is also the CEO of Matinik Little Box, a micro company producing bamboo lunch boxes. On the platform, the word circulates: Anne-Sophie, the deputy CEO, Keïddy, the secretary, and Lucas in charge of the communication of the young West Indian shoot.
Jade Beauregard, CEO of “Matinik Lunch Box”, presents the concept of the mini-company that highlights the island’s bamboo.
Presidents, sales directors, communication and marketing managers… They are 300 in total from all over France and gathered this Wednesday at the edge of the Bois de Vincennes to present their projects within the framework of the National Festival of mini-companies. Behind the event Entrepreneurship to learn France, a federation of 16 regional associations. Four of them have been set up overseas in recent years: Martinique, Guadeloupe/Saint-Martin/Saint-Barthelemy, The meeting and now Mayotte who has just joined the network. “And tomorrow, the French territories of the Pacific because we really have this desire to develop everywhere”confides Jérôme Lefèvre, the president ofEntrepreneurship to learn France.
This year, just over 25,000 young French people between the ages of nine and 25 with varied profiles created 2,000 mini-companies and thus tried out the entrepreneurial experience in an educational way. They are pupils of colleges, high schools, in a reintegration center or even integrated into a return to work initiative… In total, 60 prizes were awarded in the different regions. Representatives of these winning teams have been invited to a special event in Paris. For Jérôme Lefèvre, “It’s a way to value them, to recognize what they have done for a year.”
About 300 mini-entrepreneurs from different regions of France were present, teachers and facilitators, but also professionals from several large French companies.
“Each year, we take mini-entrepreneurs from the Martinique region of each category: college, high school and integrationsays Sabrina Marie-Sainte, president ofEntrepreneurship to learn Martinique. But the health crisis has led the local association to reduce its ambitions in 2022, for fear of simply not being able to travel. “This year, we have chosen to take the best, all categories combined.” It is therefore the team of Matinik Lunch Box who had the privilege of coming to the capital in June, “a project that is above all eco-responsible, the result of market research.” “We wanted to promote a resource that is not used enough in our country, bamboo. There is furniture, but it’s not enough”specifies Anne-Sophie Limeri, the deputy CEO who readily admits that she has taken a liking to leading.
The other Caribbean mini-company present in Paris this week is JJ Snack. “JJ” like Jean Jaurès, the name of the Baillif college in Guadeloupe where the idea was born. At 10 a.m., during recess, the mini-entrepreneurs sell healthy and balanced food there: “local juices, local fruits and dried fruits, and also sandwiches because it’s more substantial”, details Martel Salem, 13, 3rd grade student. The slogan sums up the concept well: “plezi local, health total”. The team wanted to respond to a public health need and emergency on the island: “We noticed that within our college, there were overweight studentsdecrypts Maëlyne Largitte, 15 years old. We also had a gentleman who sold hyper greasy products like sausage rolls or sandwiches which are not good for the students, and also sodas. From now on, the products come mainly from the Creole garden cultivated within the establishment.
On the Overseas stand, dried fruits and juices from Guadeloupe.
“It’s comfortable !” Sitting in the middle of a crowded narrow alley, Colette validates the concept of the “pnouf”, a pouf designed from a tire recycled by young Reunionese from L’Étang-Salé. The students of the Aimé Césaire middle school won the regional competition in the “middle school” category with their mini-company called Sedeo, “to be seated” in Latin. Like all teams, they are invited to “pitch” their concept, that is to say, to present their project to the public in a limited time. Today, it’s one minute and thirty seconds maximum. An exercise that succeeds in Reunion. In addition to presenting a sustainable concept based on recovery and recovery, the team brilliantly takes up a second challenge: to mix hearing and hard of hearing students without losing fluidity in their speech. To achieve this, they can count on Stéphane, their interpreter, who translates the interventions of Célia and Jérémy for the attention of the public.
From behind, in front of the stage, Stéphane interprets for the public the words of Jérémy, a Reunionese schoolboy from Sedeo, who speaks in sign language.
Their pitch hits the mark, the audience applauds warmly. At the foot of the platform, a few tears flow, the tension falls. The students embrace the French teacher who has accompanied them throughout the year. “It’s a job that has known ups and downs, but with perseverance and the ardor of youthsummarizes Sonia Boyer. It was a challenge, but it’s even more enriching because the students have learned to communicate with each other, and it’s great! There is a whole humanity that is created within the company.” In Reunion, the local association Undertake to learn dates back to 2017. The Indian Ocean island sent two teams to Paris this year: its “college” champions and its “high school” champions.
The students of the Levavasseur high school in Saint-Denis present, Glass Lighta mini-company for the recovery of glass bottles. “There are everywhere in Reunion, even in the sea!” Very comfortable speaking, Alexia Witkowski, 17, is the spokesperson for the team with natural authority. It’s not for nothing that she is CEO. “We have a specific machine to cut the bottle in half”, she explains, a prototype in her hands. After a thermal shock and a sanding session, the students transform the lower part into a cactus pot “recovered from our gardens” and the upper part in a lampshade. They have developed a website to sell their products. “Between 20 and 25% of the profits are donated to the Petits Princes association in Reunion”says Alexia.
Four of the members of Glass Light just before going on stage to present their pitch.
In the Chalet du Lac on the edge of the Bois de Vincennes, the Overseas stand presents the prototypes of the four teams: the bamboo box from Martinique, snacks from Guadeloupe, cactus pots and lamps from Reunion. The pnouf is placed on the ground. The twenty or so students, their teachers and their facilitators – volunteers from the associations Undertake to learn – have just met, but manage to collaborate and communicate without difficulty. This is another success of the mini-enterprise projects: helping all these teenagers gain maturity.
The icing on the cake, at the end of the day, the young ultramarines are rewarded with the prize for the “best stand”. “We are happy, it’s pridereacts Martel Salem, one of the founders of JJ Snack. Our stand was really harmonious, even if at the beginning it was complicated.” And no question of stopping there. Building on its success, the Guadeloupe snack concept will continue at the start of the school year at Jean Jaurès de Baillif college, promises Ronald Baptista, the Creole teacher who accompanies the students. Overseas, as in France, there is no question of doing without good ideas.