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Everything you need to know about being a student entrepreneur

Are you a student with an entrepreneurial spirit? Read on to find out how you can become a student entrepreneur and what you need to do to qualify.

4 min read

Are you a student with an entrepreneurial spirit? Good news—since 2014, students in France can apply for the hybrid student entrepreneur program, which supports students in setting up their very own business. Read on to find out how you can become a student entrepreneur and what you need to do to qualify.

What is the national student entrepreneur program?

The national student entrepreneur program was created in 2014 by the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, and Research to encourage young people to set up their own businesses. This unique program has some key characteristics:

  • It lasts one year, and can be renewed if necessary
  • It offers specific support from a dedicated network of organizations—including the Student Hubs for Innovation, Transfer and Entrepreneurship (Pepite), found all over France
  • Students can adjust their schedule so they’re able to set up a sustainable business while studying

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How do you get into the national student entrepreneur program and what conditions do you need to meet?

Whether you want to create a freelance business, a small business, a “very small business” (très petite entreprise), or a cooperative (Société coopérative et participative), you can apply for student entrepreneur program if you have your baccalaureate, are a student at a higher educational institution, or a young graduate.

While priority is given to those under 28 years (the legal age to benefit from student status, and particularly from student social security), rest assured that you can still apply even if you’re older.

To participate in the national student entrepreneur program, you’ll need to apply by sending an application to the Pepite hub linked to your educational institution. The hub committee will then evaluate the feasibility of your business plan, and use this to decide whether or not to approve your application.

Check the list of Pepite hubs in France here.

What are the perks of being a student entrepreneur?

The student entrepreneur program is specifically designed to handle the challenges students face as both a student and an entrepreneur. Here are the 6 main benefits:

  1. Dedicated support from two mentors. Student entrepreneurs are supported throughout the year by both an educational and professional mentor.
  2. Easy connections in the financial sector. Student entrepreneurs have improved status with banks, suppliers, and other financial institutions.
  3. Free access to coworking spaces. Pepite hubs offer access to coworking spaces, facilitating discussions among budding entrepreneurs.
  4. The ability to adapt your schedule and education to your entrepreneurial project. Students can substitute their end-of-study internship for an entrepreneurial project, and receive ECTS credits or equivalent with their accredited business project. This means your project will be fully integrated into your learning path.
  5. Legal support. The student entrepreneur program gives students access to a Contrat d’appui au projet d’entreprise or CAPE (Business Project Support Contract) to test the legality of their business before setting it up.
  6. The program allows graduates under 28 to remain in the student social security scheme.

Are you a university student? Find out all you need to know about student IDs and the benefits they offer.

The student entrepreneur certificate

In addition to  all the advantages listed above, those who take part in the student entrepreneur program are also eligible for a student entrepreneur certificate (D2E). This certificate is optional for students, but the Pepite hub committee recommends it as a way to enhance entrepreneurial skills. For young graduates, the certificate is compulsory. Here’s everything you need to know about this special certificate:

  • It’s only for young people who are enrolled in the student entrepreneur program
  • It takes one school year
  • Students must at least have a baccalaureate to qualify for the certificate
  • The certificate is adapted to each student’s needs, and favors learning-by-doing
  • It can be used to obtain ECTS credits

The content is varied and aims to give young people the skills to create and manage a start-up, by learning to make a business plan, or by addressing the legal issues that come with running a business.

Learning to manage your budget as an entrepreneur

It’s not always easy to anticipate your expenses and income when you’re an entrepreneur. As a self-employed student, things get a bit more complicated due to your status as both a student and an entrepreneur. But managing your budget is key to sustaining your start-up and ensuring its long-term success.

Here are a few simple tips to make it easier to keep your finances under control:

  • Set a budget of non-negotiable expenses
  • Estimate your costs, including social security contributions, vacation, additional healthcare costs, pension contributions, etc.
  • Open a business bank account to make bookkeeping easier
  • Keep up to date on legislation, especially VAT

For more, read our practical guide on budgeting for freelancers.

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Bank with N26 as a student entrepreneur!

Make daily life as a young entrepreneur easier by opening an N26 Smart business account. Tailored to freelancers and the self-employed, our N26 Smart premium account is designed for micro-business creators who need an intuitive, professional account. 

Track your finances right from your phone, and get real-time push notifications for every transaction. You’ll also receive 0.1% cashback on all your expenses, and can divide your account into Spaces sub-accounts.

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