4 questions to Nicolas Dufourcq, General Manager of Bpifrance
Two years after its creation, Bpifrance is asserting its role as a public tool for financing and developing companies. In partnership with the French regions and private actors, industry, banks and investors, Bpifrance is a major player supporting France’s state policy in the fields of innovation, development and the internationalisation and transmission of companies. With a physical presence in all regions via its 42 offices, Bpifrance has funded and supported 86 000 micro-businesses, SMEs and mid-caps to the tune of 14 billion Euros in credit and capital and nearly 8 bn€ of guaranteed loans in 2014.
Ramping up of export credit for loans of 1 to 50 million Euros. The goal is to make this essential tool widely available for the development of SME’s and mid-caps. How can greater place be given to SME’s in what you call “the advanced line of the French economy” and make them the champions of tomorrow?
Nicolas Dufourcq: The reform of the public export support scheme gives an important role of financier to Bpifrance alongside its partners such as Business France and the Coface. The new Export Credit for buyers and suppliers, aimed at SME’s and mid-caps, fills a real gap in the market. This is an essential tool for developing the export sales of SMEs and was previously reserved only for key accounts by major banking groups. Between 2004 and 2014, the number of buyer loans under 20 m€ was divided by 10, crippling French sales of consumer goods and services abroad! Thanks to its sales network, Bpifrance is actively seeking to meet potential exporters who, like their competitors, can now provide their foreign buyers with financing in addition to their sales range.
Innovative News: How are the regions essential partners in detecting and leveraging SME’s able to play on the world stage?
Nicolas Dufourcq: France continues to have a trade deficit in 2014, despite the fall in energy prices. Of the 121 000 exporting companies identified in 2014, the first 1000 alone make 70% of all export sales. It is clear that the jump will come from SME’s and midcaps present in the regions, often absent from foreign markets, despite a high-quality offering. The Regions are engaged in this battle by setting up regional corporate internationalisation plans (PRIE). Bpifrance is providing its support alongside the French state, local public bodies and French external trade advisors, to raise awareness with business owners, support them and of course, provide funding. In 2014, export loans offered by our teams in the regions grew exponentially, from 111 m€ to 404 m€! This service has just been extended with leveraging of foreign receivables and export loans. More than ever in 2015, export remains a priority for Bpifrance.
Innovative News: Your quotes: “Everything we do, we do it together” How does this international support work, with Business France?
Nicolas Dufourcq: As a principle, Bpifrance never acts alone, but always in a partnership. As well as widening the credit offering, the Bpifrance Export label has led to the integration of 40 international Business France advisors and 20 Coface advisors in our regional offices. Our advisors have also been trained and can offer Coface products or Business France services. This “cross-fertilisation” makes the whole chain of international support accessible from the regions, from market prospecting to the financing of sales and local offices.
Lemer Pax is part of the Bpifrance Excellence community; why is this an advantage?
Nicolas Dufourcq: Bpifrance Excellence includes 2000 of our customers, including those whose growth perspectives seemed the most promising to our advisors and our investment managers. Being a member is an advantage as this network provides high-quality support with services including special training and networking (collaborative site for peer-to-peer exchanges, feedback, search for partners, workshops, networking evenings and regional meetings). Due to its coverage of the whole of mainland France, this community is the best ambassador for all growth-minded entrepreneurs. It gives them the advantage of being seen and heard, to combat the solitude of business owners who thus have a connection to 2 000 exceptional peers.