By Christine Lacaze
The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) in Canada boasts nearly 850 members, half of them French and the other half Canadian. As a meeting point for professionnals across the Atlantic, it’s THE place where businesses and professionals can discuss their implementation needs. Events, trainings, business center... The French CCI in Canada also launched two committees and a start-up contest last year! We met with Véronique Loiseau, general manager, to discuss why Montreal is so sought-after by French entrepreneurs.
Contact, connection and accompaniment
The French CCI has been established in Canada since 1886 and is part of the CCI France International network, which has 120 affiliates in more than 90 countries. According to Mrs Loiseau, the main characteristic of the French CCI is that: "We are a non-profit, 100% self-subsidized association - we receive no subsidy from France or Quebec. Which makes us a little more dynamic in the way we work."
Its greatest strength is its network. Since its inception, the French CCI has had three main missions:
1) Facilitate the Franco-Canadian and Quebec business community. To this end, it organizes networking events throughout the year, creating meeting and connections between businesses.
2) Help French companies, especially SMEs, settle in Canada. To achieve this goal, the French CCI offers French companies individual or collective prospecting missions in Canada, market research, technological watch and daily support until they are established. The French CCI boasts two business centers in which companies are housed for indefinite periods. The ultimate goal? To see these companies blossom in the best conditions.
3) Promote economic relations between France and Canada. The French CCI has a strong relationship with all economic players in Quebec, Canada and in France.
A few participants during the last Canada-France Business Convention.
Innovation at the heart of development
Veronique Loiseau is one of they key actor involved in setting up two new committees dedicated to digital and start-ups. For her, the essence of the French CCI is to “adapt to our members” evolution and to the ecosystem in which they operate.” With these committees we organize activities, we present a yearly business convention1 whose newly minted start-up contest has been wildly successful. Thanks to this, we’ve been awarded the prize for best initiative amongst the entire French CCI abroad network. This year will be no different; we’ll offer very relevant programming! "
Result of the startup conteste organized by the French CCI.
Montréal's undeniable pull
Montreal’s charm is very attractive, something investors and entrepreneurs have long understood. Quebec’s digital or innovative ecosystem is very favourable to business development. "We see a very important dynamism. The ecosystem here is very conducive, very dynamic and the main characters, like the Quartier de l’innovation de Montréal (QI) are so strong.” For many French companies, Montreal is seen as the gateway to North America; at the same time, the language is familiar which greatly facilitates exchanges. "In general, we see that once the companies are established in Montreal or Quebec, they will naturally expand to Ontario and the United States," says Mrs. Loiseau.
Mrs. Loiseau believes that alliances between the different businesses in Montreal must be strengthened in order to breathe even more life into the city and to respond to French companies wishing to penetrate the growing Montreal market. "What we want above all is to create synergies with actors in this field such as the QI to join forces and unite our network. "
And when asked how she imagines the French CCI of Canada in a few years, Veronique Loiseau dreams out loud: "We would very much like to be one of the first gateways for French companies. To carry these companies that have innovative, life-changing projects,is inspiring, isn’t it? "
1 The purpose of the Canada-France Business Convention is to bring together all economic players around the issues of settlement, investment and transatlantic acquisition. It includes workshops on legal, tax, financing and human resources issues, as well as workshops from large companies’ professionals.