An introduction to business in Corsica, plus specific & appropriate enterprise creation opportunities.

Appropriate Enterprise in Corsica.

An Entrepreneur in Corsica.

Business Creation Ideas for Corsica.

Business Startup in Corsica.

Femu Quì - Corsica's venture capitalist.

Corsican Business Websites.

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Machja - cotton organic clothes seek distributors

Machja (www.machja.com) is a 'Corsican' high-quality range of organic cotton clothes designed by Jean-Louis and Catherine, produced by an Indian fair-trade workshop. They seek distrutors throughout the world.

An Entrepreneur in Corsica.

Here are some pointers to what's special about being an entrepreneur in Corsica. Of course there's no substitute for being here and finding out for yourself.

If you would like to know more about business in Corsica one your earliest tasks should be get hold of a copy of a book by Linda Peretti called, Créer son entreprise en Corse. It describes how to set up in business here and has invaluable general advice, too. Especially for someone used to business in the US or UK, business creation under the French system is horribly complicated and expensive, but this book takes you step by step through the process.  It is published by Editions du Maquis - ISBN 291585601X.

While on books, there are some on setting up a business in France. The rules are basically the same, but the conditions are very different. Nonetheless I list some titles below:

An entrepreneur...

An entrepreneur has vision; he or she is able to analyse the present in order to anticipate and plan the future; able to live in the future today. Entrepreneurs are predisposed to action and to get their first client in order to learn from experience.

The entrepreneur is capable of tolerating ambiguity, living with uncertainty and dealing with the unexpected. This last is specially important here in Corsica. Small business is beautiful in Corsica and is very dependent upon respect and relationship.

...in Corsica

Setting up a business in Corsica has some special features as well as many in common with doing so anywhere else. Of course, being French territory, it is French business legislation that applies and in this regard, setting up here is no different to mainland France (except for a number of fiscal advantages).

ognunu pula quand'è ventu - you thresh when the wind blows

One of the first things to remember is the size of Corsica. It has only 275k people and a mountainous/island geography. A large firm is one employing ten people; 91% of Corsican firms employ less. Out of 17,481 registered businesses (in 1999), only 66 employed more than 50 people. Corsica had a very limited experience of the industrial revolution, though at the turn of the century there were a few small-scale industrial ventures - and even a steelworks at Solenzara. Essentially Corsica has gone straight to a post-industrial era from an agro-pastoral one. Cultural differences between Corsica and most of western Europe are considerable.

There has been little or no capitalist tradition. The Corsican's traditional agility to combine teamwork and individuality offers both advantages and risks. These are not value judgments, but should be borne in mind by any intending entrepreneur, who will soon learn that there are many other special features, which will influence his or her business.

It's interesting, though, that new business creation seems to be accelerating in Corsica, where it is declining in France as a whole.

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This page: An Entrepreneur in Corsica | Business Creation Ideas for Corsica | Business Startup in Corsica | Femu Quì - Corsica's Venture Capitalist | Corsican Business Websites

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Business Creation Ideas for Corsica.

Here's a list of the kind of TPEs (très petites entreprises), or very small businesses, for which there are possibilities in the special conditions of the Corsican economy. All of them would all need further study and are a long way from the creation of a business plan. Clearly such ideas would be of most interest to Corsicans, but friends of Corsica should feel free to explore them, too

Those marked with an asterisk would be particularly likely to attract public funding (beyond statutory grants). For more on this see the section Business Startup in Corsica.

applied science and technology* - eg sail loft using new materials for new sea and air sports - such as kite surfing; small-scale recycling plants (eg used tyre reprocessing).

computing and telecommunications* - eg applied software development; televillages/télébergeries.

distributive trades - eg domestic renewable energy products & bio systems; 'postbus' type service (in the 1860s there was such a service - the barouche of the 'Messageries-Postes').

electronics* - eg 'intelligent' HT electricity pylons; autonomous fire warning for remote locations.

fabless manufacturing* - design/marketing of products remotely produced, using internet based subcontracting (Corsica's quality of life makes a special appeal)

environmentally friendly products - an obvious example is the production of sheep wool house insulation, since almost the entire annual shearing of sheep is burned because there is no market for it; such products are now being manufactured in Britain, Ireland, Germany and New Zealand.

food products from little used plants - eg carob for hay replacement; Barbary fig for soft drinks; citron for the manufacture of jam (note that they are used in he Jewish feast of the Tabernacles and can cost $10-50 a pound in the US!

Cù u travagliu è cù a pace, l'abbundanza ancu si face - abundance is born of work and peace.

gardening and horticulture - eg production of Rooibos tea (a South African variety), though efforts in Chile, Israel & Australia have not worked; export of Corsican seeds, such as lariccio pine (the origin of Carolina pine and some planted at Castle Neroche in Somerset UK); garden and swimming pool maintenance - there's a big and growing demand especially from holiday home owners; what's currently available is frequently far from satisfactory.

graphic arts - eg lithography workshop for artists - an engraving workshop has recently been opened by Hervé Quilichini at Pigna; specialist maps (for archaeological sites or climbers?); perhaps a franchise with one of the fast printing outfits (printing is not a widely developed industry in Corsica).

import replacement* - eg boat-building; olive oil margarine; tuff bricks (made from indigenous crumbled granite compacted with lime); micro-hydroelectric schemes (hydro currently = 30% of the island's production from 4 dams on the Golo, the Tavignano, the Fiumorbu and the Prunelli - 20% of power is imported) and EdF hopes for approval of a new scheme in the Rizzanese - the objective is that 40% (31% now) of the island's electricity should be produced by renewable energy. If you have stone-slate experience or are a quarryman, come quick! The 'lauze' (like Cotswold tiles) business is in neglect and roofing people are hard to find and lauzes are being imported from India and Argentina - crazy, eh? One local quarry - Carrières de Brando Petre Scritte (Brignoli brothers) - dates from the 6th century; the other three quarries in Haute Corse are at Monte, Pie d'Orezza & Pozzo.

horses - eg traditional saddlery or pack saddles; riding holiday packages; Corsican horse breeding for export.

hotel trades* - eg conversion of disused buildings for retirement homes; B&B for mountain pursuits (there are special grants for the rural economy) - there presently talk of setting up an operation similar to the Paradors of Spain.

leisure activities* - eg specialist tour operators - train holidays, for instance; coastal freight & passenger transport by high speed boat - Ernest Colombani's Colombo Line in Calvi has started irregular voyages from Calvi/Ajaccio in season at a fraction of the time it takes by road or train; there is much scope in the nautical sector and the Region now has a development policy in place.

modernised traditional industry - eg cork, for which sector support is forthcoming from Haute-Corse Développement (there's only one existing bottle cork manufacturer: Corsica Liège at Borgo & one processor that has just started making cork insulation: Suvierco at Porto Vecchio, a town around which there are several raw cork producers with most of their harvest going to Sardinia for processing) - an example from the village of Tempio in the rural area of Galluria in Sardinia is the transformation of cork into fabric for clothing and wallcoverings; Valérie Gaudemard has set up a microbusiness called Allupiera to make pillows and cushions and even (on special order) mattreses, from Corsican cork granules. Another example is stone (reconstituted granite blocks to replace cement ones - it seems strange to see Cotswold stone blocks imported); and yet another is tanning, which used to be a significant industry in Corsica - there is a family (Orsini) business called Corsica Cuir in Aleria preparing but not tanning hides of sheep, goats and cattle and they export tens of thousands of high quality hides.

manghjassi fruttu è fondu - to eat both capital and revenue

revitalised Corsican artisanal products - eg applied basketry - for artisanal products; tanning and leather trades (traditional boots with soles from wild boar hides?).

sea and mountains - eg yacht & motor-cruisers time-sharing; rock-climbing centres (there's a lot of mountaineering, but much less rock-climbing - 'l'escalade' or 'l'alpinisme').

training - eg cyber skools - computer training for kids; traditional crafts training (developing ways of passing on disappearing skills); I have quite a few northern Europeans who have enquired about setting up personal development workshops.

semi-industrial production* - eg sheep's milk yoghurt (sheep's milk ice-cream?) - now here's something I'm really keen on, because I like the product and it is very appropriate given the prevalence of sheep farming; a recent student project at the University was based on the idea of launching 'U Yaourtu' - a Corsican yoghurt; salt-derived products & salt-preserved delicacies (there is a new book just out - 'Sel et Salines de Corse', published by Editions Alain Piazzola - George III gave the first concession in 1795 for a saltern at Porto Vecchio). It used to be a significant industry.

chi travalia per sè, travaglia per trè - he who works for himself, does the work of three

wood and woodworking - eg timber transformation trades (especially of cabinet-making quality lariccio pine, or chestnut)- the French National Forest Office can help as probably would the Mayor of Ghisoni, Philippe Albertini, who is trying to encourage development in this field (his job is director of the two northern airports - Bastia and Calvi); reproduction traditional Corsican furniture (for example: 'media', used to knead dough and then prove it - they make excellent sideboards; or 'bancale', small settles); there is a new business established by Jean-Marc Morin, making log houses from Larricio pine at Porto Vecchio.

small hotels of character/B&Bs/seminar centres - these may sound old hat, but there are many opportunities for those who'd like to enter this business, especially for people with imagination, drive and good connections with countries in Northern Europe; there are interesting places for sale or lease in sites of outstanding quality.

The newly evolving economic policy for Corsica has one of its main axes on the harmonious development of the interior with its mountains, forests and watercourses, especially supporting heritage and culturally specific activities. Hence the aim is to encourage a wider market economy, balancing the coastal and rural areas and preserving the very things that make Corsica so special. Many of the ideas outlined above are of the nature likely to find progressive public financial support... There is a special relationship between the Corsican Economic Development Agency and the Regional Natural Park. They are especially keen on projects, which not only create jobs, but integrate public and private efforts. The ADEC offers special grants for businesses setting up in communes with populations of less than 500 people. They are generous and in certain cases can rise as high as 80% of costs. Standardised forms are available from La Direction de l'Aménagement du Territoire de la Collectivité Territoriale de Corse at l'Hôtel de Région, 22 Cours Grandval, 20 000 Ajaccio (tel 04 95 51 64 64).

timber trades - An important area for development, in my opinion, are the timber trades. The raw material is under exploited and value is often only added after export of raw trees. At the 2004 wood sales organised by the ONF Corsica only 38% of the volume on offer was sold. If you are interested then contact the regional boss, Maurice Boisson in Ajaccio or his commercial service in Corte. Annual production of high quality lariccio & maritime pine is about 150km². There are some exceptions of course; one is the sawmills (one of 6 on the island) of the Pomi family at Santa Marie Sicche. It supplies essentially the local market with traditional (lariccio pine & chestnut) building materials. Hervé Pomi (his brother Aimé is pres of the Corsican forestry association) says that 90 per cent of the roofs of public buildings are made from prefabricated imports or made locally from exotic hardwoods. He also believes that market growth could amount to 20-30% if a policy of import substitution was implemented. Lariccio pine is a better product than most of the imports - the tree grows very slowly and often has the same strength as plys and attains a circumference of up to 6m. It grows at between 600 and 1 800 metres and can happily live for 3-400 years and some go to 1 000 years-old. Possibly the situation of the industry will change, because the 50 000 hectares (18 000 are larricio) of national forests (ONF) have been transferred to regional (Corsican) ownership. The Pomi company, Legnu Nostru has set up a new subsidiary called Corse Bois Industrie, based at Tavaco in the Gravona valley, with investment from Femu Qui, Corsica's venture capitalist. The timber trades employ under 200 people. There has been a recent training course in Corsica for making wooden tiled roofs (the wooden roof tiler is called a tavailloneur - more info from the Chambre de Métiers of Haute Corse in Bastia - 04 95 32 83 00 - www.artigianatu.com).

shops - Opening a 'me-too' shop in Corsica is not recommended. There are already far too many people doing that and they last one season and close. If you are a retailer, who has a passion for something not already available in Corsica, then maybe - but it's a tough market place. You can buy a fond de commerce, or goodwill of an existing shop. Prices will vary considerably, depending on location, size, previous turnover and other factors such as the reason for the sale. There are no generalisable rules for how prices are fixed, but it may be worth asking around, but not in the same trade. You'll need a local accountant, so ask him/her, provided of course it's not the same firm as did the accounts of the vendor! Really good shops will seldom be sold, but rather put into gérance, a fee-paying management contract.

E-Business

.There are almost limitless opportunities in the e-business world, only limited by your own ideas and business acumen. A high speed communications infrastructure is planned to make access to data highways as efficient as any in the world. ADSL is already available in big centres - and even in mountain villages. The rate of connection via ADSL in Corsica is at 10.5%, vs the national level of 8.5%. The big push was launched in 2005; high speed internet everywhere will be quite a challenge, given the terrain.

Each place will have its own tailored solution; fibre optics will be favoured, but this will not be possible everywhere so radio (wi-max) or satellite will be necessary for the most inaccessible places. The project (RHDCOR - réseau à haut débit pour la Corse) should be complete in 2007 - if Corsica Haut Débit, a France Télécom subsidiary, does its job. But bear in mind, the quality of service and support still leaves a lot to be desired - frequent power and telecom outages and not sense of customer support.

Another related project is 'Corsica Hotspot'. The first phase will establish 40 free internet access hotspots in town halls, stations, libraries, cafés, airports and so on. the idea is that this should extended island-wide as soon as possible.

For any computer-related activity, it would probably be worth a call to Jean-Marc Devisimes, who is in charge of NITC (new technologies of information and communication) at ADEC, the Corsican Economic Development Agency.

In High Corsica, it is the plan to make internet access available for every 250 people (236 communes will have a Casatela available) and to make the necessary training available to all. There is now a Mission des Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication established by the CTC (Regional Government). Its boss is Eric Ferari (his telephone number is 04 95 10 07 35).

mani lisce, denti rughnosi - smooth hands, rusty teeth

Before going any further, you should visit the site of the Corsican Economic Development Agency (ADEC) of the regional government (CTC), which gives you an introduction to the Corsican economy as well as giving details of how the agency can be of help.  If you contact them, ask for Mr Zonneberg, the Director. There is also other useful information for intending business people.

There are special aids for the rural economy and thus out of town businesses can set up with additional help. Information about this and the many other business development initiatives is available as the schemes are introduced at www.netcorse.tm.fr.

Another useful organisation is the - Centre Régional d'Innovation et de Transfert de Technologie, which has three basic missions: technological innovation, quality and project accompaniment. It has sections that can undertake economic/technical studies; environmental studies; prototype production; a quality lab; honey & pollen; aromatic plants; chestnuts. More details at www.critt-corse.asso.fr. The best person to ask for is probably Prof Alain Louche, the Vice-President. He is also responsible for starting a subsidiary of the Università di Corsica in the field of information & communication.

If you decide to follow up on any of these ideas and would like to have some idea of what might be involved in setting up such a business, you'd find a visit to the A-Z of Micro Enterprises would probably be worthwhile.

This page: An Entrepreneur in Corsica | Business Creation Ideas for Corsica | Business Startup in Corsica | Femu Quì - Corsica's Venture Capitalist | Corsican Business Websites

Other pages: Home PageFAQs | Corsican Websites | Corsican Music | Travel to Corsica | Corsican Weather | Public Life in Corsica | Corsican Language | Mystique of Corsica | Corsican Tastes & Scents | Corsica's Mountains and Coast | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

Business Startup in Corsica.

You have to be someone with no choice but to start a business;

you have to be passionate about doing so in Corsica;

you have to have a clear business idea.

If you have these characteristics, then you have already begun, but what follows may give you a leg up.

Where to begin: Several of the sites listed below under Corsican Business Websites will give you guidance also. You can print out a good simplified business plan proforma at the Banque Populaire website.

There is of course no short cut to business creation here, any more than anywhere else. In my book, a business idea needs to stand up on its own, but there are many investment incentives established here to give a new business a helping hand. The Corsican Economic Development Agency, ADEC, would be a reasonable first port of call. If you want to contact them direct they are on 04 95 50 91 00 and their address is Immeuble Le Régent, 1 avenue Eugène Macchini, 20000 Ajaccio. The director is Michel Zonenberg. ADEC now has an office also in Bastia at the Chamber of Commerce and their number is 04 95 54 44 74. There's a site that lists most of the funding possibilities - Invest in Corsica (www.netcorse.tm.fr), which has an English version. The new Corsican statute and its PEI (Programme exceptionel d'investissement) has €667 billion to invest and €32 billion in economic development specifically over the period 2000-2006.

The Ministry of Finance has a good enterprise site, where you can find much valuable information on public services, signposting and advice on setting up in business in France and there's a Corsican section: www.entreprises.minefi.gouv.fr/corse/cadre_gen.htm which includes a booklet on Corsican 'numbers which you can download as a zip or pdf file. You can put questions by email and expect and expect an answer within 72 hours.

Both Haute Corse (www.bastia-hautecorse.cci.fr) and Corse du Sud have Chambers of Commerce & Industry. They might be worth visiting to get some general orientation, before consulting any professional advisers. It won't cost you anything to try.

It is interesting to note that ADEC, the two Chambers of Commerce and the special unit of the Département of Haute Corse, called Haute Corse Développement, have signed a collective convention, so that they will work closely together, making it easier for the budding entrepreneur to get all the appropriate assistance that's going. The aim is to include the two Chambres de Métiers in due course (a Chambre de Métiers is where you would naturally register a micro enterprise if you were to set up as an artisan). The Chambre de Métiers de la Haute Corse can be of help to anyone starting up a craft business or small enterprise and they have set up a joint website with the Tuscans under the Interreg programme (www.artigianatu.com) with an English version. Under the regional government and organised by ADEC, there has already been established something called the GRIF (groupement régional des instruments financiers), which brings together 5 organisations, namely ADIE, the Platforme d'Inituiative Locale, Femu Qui, OSEO Finance and Corse Active. There is now a coming together of the BDPME (the small and medium company development bank) and ANVAR (the French agency for innovation) in Corsica into the organisation OSEO. The Region (CTC) and Oseo have together set up COSIC (comité d'orientation statégique de l'innovation en corse) to focus upon innovation and development. These are yet further means of trying to ensure than nobody with entrepreneurial aspirations should be left in ignorance of what help is available.

ADEC concentrates its efforts in three main sectors: tourism, new technologies and food & farming. It also lays an emphasis on rural development in the interior of the island. That does not mean that they won't support other things, so don't hesitate if your interests are outside these areas.

Start-up loan: to help potential business creators, the French Government has announced the PCE (phase de création d'entreprise) - a 5-year start-up loan for projects involving less than €45 000 and for things such as working capital or business plan preparation. It will be for between €2 000 and €7 000 and will not require a security or personal guarantee (a guarantee is offered by Sofaris) and repayments can be deferred, but the loan has to be part of a financing package from several sources. It is administered by the Banque Des Petites & Moyennes Entreprises - OSEO Finance. If you would like more information go to www.oseo.fr. The bank has now opened its regional office in Ajaccio (tel 04 95 10 60 90) with a presence also in Bastia (at the Chamber of Commerce - tel 04 95 54 44 44). The French Government is making a special effort and has recently set up Oseo to bring together the Sofaris, the BDPME and ANVAR (see above for all three). The website has many useful links

Loan guarantees: OSEO Finance will also offers investment guarantees. Following an agreement between the regional government (CTC) and OSEO Finance, a fonds régional de garantie has been established and the CTC has injected €10M. The fund is administered by SOFARIS Régions (a joint subsidiary of OSEO Finance and the CDC). Available to SMEs and VSEs (Very Small Enterprises) in the form of loan guarantees of up to 70%. So far 152 projects have received guarantees and this has mobilised some 80% of the fund at present. In the main, they concern craft industries (40%), tourism (36%) and retail 11%). The guarantees apply for medium and long term loans, equipment and building leases, capital and quasi-capital funding - involving investments for enterprise creation, modernisation, development or transfer.

There is also SA Corse Garantie, which can guarantee up to 60% of loans. Applications are made via commercial banks.

centu volte misura e una taglia - measure a hundred times and cut once

Tax Credits: tax credits will be available for 10 years from the end of the Zone Franche in 2003. These will be at two levels: 20% for the designated priority sectors - hotels and their renewal, restaurants, new technologies, energy, consulting services and engineering; a 10% rate will apply to investments by SMEs in industry, artisans, liberal professions and agriculture (basically a 1MF investment would result in a 100KF deduction of business taxation.

Aids to the unemployed business creator: the regional ADIE (association to help jobseekers) can offer not only technical help, but also unsecured loans (prêts d'honneur) of up to 5 000 € at 0%, together with a further 5 000 € for up to 24 months at 6.1%. It was set up to offer micro loans based on the experience in the Eastern European countries. (Fabrice Geistlich, Tour l'Armoise, Résidence Castel Vecchio, 20090 Ajaccio; tel 04 95 10 72 46 and the Haute Corse office is on 04 95 34 09 33). Established in Corsica in 2000, it has accorded 150 loans so far. The national site is at www.adie.org. In 2003 ADIE in Corsica made 103 solidarity loans and 64 loans on trust - most to long term unemployed or social security recipients.

Corse Initiative Réseau: is an association that aims to encourage local business. Personal loans of between €3 and 30 000 are offered at 0% interest over 2-5 years! The association is based at the Parc Technologique de Bastia, 20261 Bastia (tel 04 95 30 96 06). The Caisse de Dépôts et Consignations, the para-statal bank has just signed an accord to support CIR to the tune of €142 000 for 2002 and 2003. Since starting in 2001, CIR has made 16 unsecured loans, thus helping recipients to gain bank loans.

Ajaccio incubator: The town has sponsored a business incubator, which has a budget of 5.7MF for the years 2001-2003. They aim to sponsor 15 projects over the three years. The selected projects will need to meet these criteria: have an innovative character; a link with public sector research; be led by an entrepreneurial person; be aimed at a national or international market place.

Commercial banks: You might think that the banks would be a good place to go, but few are 'enterprise minded'. Some branches of some banks have switched on managers. You might like to try Guy Femenia at the Banque Populaire Provençale et Corse (www.bppc.fr) at the Ajaccio Serafini branch (04 95 21 49 85). He is their manager for enterprises.

The Banque Populaire has a subsidiary called SPEF, an investment bank for SMEs. Last year it invested equity of 500MF in 190 companies. They are shareholders in one of Corsica's most successful businesses - the Pietra brewery. As well as buyouts, M&A and development capital, they offer a special service for business creation and innovation. In English, they offer a 'Guide to Starting Your Business' on how to set up in France (click here for details). Their financing can be accompanied by interest-free refundable advances of up to 100KF and subsidies up to 50KF to help finance export sales development, patent research, surveys & audits, without any guarantees being required. There's an application & evaluation form available online - it takes the form of a simplified business plan (worth having whether you apply or not).

The banks are not very entrepreneurial, but Corsicans are great savers. The split between current and savings accounts in Corsica is 47/53, by comparison with the French national average is 65/35 and these savings accounts have been growing at 12.5% over the last four years. During the same period credits to individuals have been rising, while those to companies and entrepreneurs have been falling. This phenomenon has been the cause of a great popular cry for banks in Corsica to invest more of this Corsican money in Corsica.

General business start-up help: at a more general level, not specific to Corsica, an excellent source of links for aspiring entrepreneurs is (not surprisingly) the FT. So try a visit to www.ft.com and search for 'venture capital', 'small business', or like topics. Because they own it, there's a direct link to Les Echos, the French business newspaper. The Wall Street Journal has a useful site startup.wsj.com where there is a free tool you can use for business plan testing. The small business sections of any of the major search engines and directories may be helpful, too. A good resource bank can be found at www.businesseurope.com. Similarly, www.clearlybusiness.com is worth a visit.

Specific French conditions: for setting up here in Corsica , which is a French region, APCE - the association for enterprise creation is a mine of information. Their site is in French, of course. They have a mailing list you can join for free. If you click here, you will find a complete document for preparing a financial plan (in French), into which you can simply insert your own information.

A site with plenty of ideas and help is www.decideur.com - it has many sections including one for creating a business. Another very good and straightforward one is at Technowest Initiatives - boutique de gestion. For seed capital and a range of other services, the French site, www.businessangels.com is well worth a try. If you want to look up any French business, then there's a good directory at www.entreprises.fr and there are also loads of other information for business.

A person from the anglo-saxon business community would need to think very carefully about the juridical form of operation that he or she would intend establishing here (by 'here' meaning France, for it's French rules that apply in Corsica). There are a wide variety of forms - more than in anglo-saxon countries - that a business can take, each with its own advantages and constraints.

The rules and regulations are much more complex than you might have experienced elsewhere and tax and social contributions much higher. The latter are frequently payable in advance. For instance a micro-enterprise will have to pay social contributions based on 'estimated' turnover from day one. Social security contributions could be as much as 30% of turnover - not of profits or of salary. A potential enterprise killer!

a u gattivu marinaru, tutti venti só malfatte - for a bad mariner all winds are adverse

If you establish an sarl or SA, then social contributions would depend on salaries of those employed (though there are currently certain reliefs in Corsica for start-ups), but being companies there are many additional burdens. This is not meant as a deterrent, but rather as a helpful warning and APCE, mentioned above, can be of great help here, before you start incurring the cost of using an accountant (expert comptable). However, a person in the latter category, who might point you in the right direction is the Bastia-based   Véronique Albertini. There is a useful little computer programme that can help: Creastart can produce a monthly simulation of social charges and taxation (including VAT). A man you may want to meet is Marc Simeoni, the son of veteran nationalist, Dr Edmond Simeoni. He's a management consultant set up in Bastia. He'll do market research, finance search, business plan development and the like. You'll find him at 25bis rue Luce de Casabianca, 20200 Bastia (04 95 31 85 96) or email him - marcsimeoni @ aol.com.

There is nothing to stop a non-French national establishing a business here. An easier route might be to establish a company in another 'easier' EU country (say GB) and open an branch office here (not a subsidiary, which would be treated much as a locally established company). I would only suggest this if, either you were established elsewhere and wanted to progressively move your activity here, or if you felt tentative about what might work and hesitated to jump into the Corsican business bath right away.

'Offshore' activities are not recommended. If you want to set up in business here, it is important to commit. To commit, means registering here, living here, paying taxes here. There have been a few businesses which have set up 'shell' registered headquarters here simply to benefit from the fiscal advantages of the Zone Franche when it was operating. They were not been well received, and indeed that is not the idea behind any such incentives offered. If you see a need or you can make a contribution, or even if you want to find a way of making a living here, then there is no reason why the business should not be fully 'here'.

If your enterprise were a micro-enterprise (perhaps initially) alternative route could be to operate as a private individual (l'entreprise individuelle), without a capital structure, though you'd still have register at a Centre de Formalité des Entreprises. You'd still be liable for income tax and social contributions relative to your declared revenue and you would have full liability, unlike in a company structure. Any invoicing you did would have to state that it was under Article 293B of the CGI (general tax code) and be without value added tax.

The former President of the University, Jacques-Henri Balbi, oriented the university towards enterprise and the environment. This policy will be followed by the newly elected , Antoine Aiello (outgoing director of the Institute of Technology - and only 31). The university has established a charter aimed at promoting a lively and prosperous economy

The IUT offers the 'diplôme universitaire Entrpreneuriat' that you can get in 14 months of study (400 group hours and 170 hours of personal tutoring + a 3-6 month company placement).

There's a new MBA course at the University - actually a DESS CAAE (!)- and with financial support from the Region, it's open to jobseekers or employees, who have a master's degree or those who can demonstrate sufficient professional experience. The course includes 420 hours of lectures in 60 seven hour days - a day a week for two years (for details write to mignot @ univ-corse.fr)

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Femu Quì - Corsica's venture capitalist.

Founded in 1992, Femu Quì SA is Corsica's only venture capital firm and has recently expanded its capital from 4MF to 23MF. The company's objectives, established by its charter, state its commitment to serving the collective interests of the Corsican people - Corsicans by birth and by adoption.

Femu Quì differs from the classic VC firm through focusing on projects which create appropriate and sustainable employment, as well as seeking to improve the island's economic independence. Like any VC outfit, it has had successes and failures in its portfolio. Among its investments to date, there have been two liquidations, two exits with capital gain and one fast growing business.

The enlarged funding has come from a public offering. The new structure of shareholding is split between private investors (12MF) and public bodies (11MF). In order to retain its strict independence, the board has nine private members (7 representing small shareholders and 2 representing big ones) and 3 public sector members. The investment committee is composed of members drawn from private sector investors only.

One of the new shareholders in the 'big shareholder' category is the model and actress Laetitia Casta. Others include the ferry companies Corsica Ferries and SNCM, big Corsican companies and major private investors, such as Gilberte Beaux.

The new shares were offered at 900F (par 750F), while trading will continue by application to the company.

The company would be happy to hear from you if you have a business plan that you would like to put into action in Corsica. Don't forget that Femu Quì has the objective of employment creation.

The company's Director is Jean-François Stefani (mention me, if you like, for I used to be a director) and its address is Chambre de Commerce, Nouveau Port, 20293 Bastia Cedex, France. The telephone number is 04 95 54 44 75, the fax is 04 95 54 44 78 and Jean-François' mobile is 06 75 19 61 63 and you can speak to the Chargé de Participations, Franck Teramo or send him and email - franck.teramo @ femu-qui.com.

Femu Qui is a member of the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks and Financiers. Visit the website - you'll find it very interesting; I have been a Corsican delegate to FEBEA meetings and there is an exciting variety of ethical financial initiatives across Europe. Look, for example at Integra, based in Bratislava and working across Eastern and Central Europe - "We help people to build their businesses so they can become 'Islands of Integrity'. Then they can participate in the transformation of their communities," says Allan Bussard, the Canadian-born director, who has been working in eastern Europe of more than 30 years. Or another very different example is Charity Bank in UK - "Conventionally, money invested in a bank is channelled to companies, often known only by their share price or ethical policy. Instead, we are funding local and national charities, mainly unknown beyond their communities, to help them maintain and develop their critical facilities for disadvantaged or underinvested communities," says managing director Malcolm Hayday.

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Corsican Business Websites.

The Corsican Development Agency (www.corse-adec.org) - this is a very useful site and an essential port of call for anyone wanting to set up a business in Corsica and looking for public funding. The director of development is Alex Vinciguerra. They have a target of aiding 300 enterprises in 2003.

Invest in Corsica (www.netcorse.tm.fr) - a useful site for those wanting to do business in Corsica. It shows you what help is available and how the grants work. It describes the business environment and lists companies in food & agriculture, industry and services.

Get a Job - architects to workers in tourism (www.corsicajob.com) - there are job offers and you can post your CV.

Get a job in hotels & catering (www.corse-hotellerie-consultants.com) - Raymond Lucchini can take your cv online and help with finding a job.

Marketing & management consultant (www.cocooney.com) - Vanina Delobelle, of Bastia origin, shares her time between the continent and Corsica and runs her agency from both. It offers services in marketing operations and training.

Corsican Innovation and Tech Transfer Centre (www.critt-corse.asso.fr) - CRITT can undertake studies, make prototypes, do work on quality as well as have special sections for beekeeping, aromatic plants and chestnuts. If you want more on chestnuts, visit the Querciellu site - it's a village in the Castagniccia.

Trades Training Centre (www.cfm2a.fr.fm) - The training centre of the Chambre de Métiers de la Corse du Sud for craft skills, office skills and decision making. Haute Corse also has such a centre.

Corsica's southern ports (www.corse-du-sud.cci.fr/port) - a comprehensive site for the ports of Ajaccio, Porto Vecchio, Bonifacio and Propriano.

Wind Farms - Eole 2005 is one of the first aeolian electricity generation stations in Corsica - situated at the St Nicholas pass in Cap Corse, between Rogliano and Ersa. The wind generators were built by Nordex (www.nordex.dk) of Denmark. The two farms that exist so far are able to produce 12MW and is already producing enough energy for the whole of Cap Corse. The latest proposed venture is at the Col de Salvi in the Balagne (SA Kyrnéole). In Calinzana, also in the Balagne, Corseol (the same promoters led by Ludwig Hoffmann) has built ten masts producing 6MW. There are other projects on the stocks for Soveria (1.7MW), Ventiseri & Sierra di Fiumorbu (24MW), Murato (12MW) and there are others under consideration. If all these came to fruition, production would be in excess of the 50MW presently envisaged.

Transport & shipping (ersa.net) - Ersa is a company that can look after all your air/land transport and shipping needs within and outside Corsica. They do warehousing, courier services & parcels, yacht berth reservations, export/import... So if you decide to ship cases of wine home, ask them for a quote (they speak English).

Communications agency (www.mediaterra.fr) - MediaTerra in Bastia is a consulting company concerned with management, informatics and communication. Jean-Paul Poggioli is the managing director. He used to be a director at Femu Quì, and under his wing is the MediaTerra ISP and computing activity. It is also the most effective communications outfit in Corsica. The people to ask for are Moune Poli or Joël Demasson. They are also the publishers of two excellent guides: La Corse en Train (68F) - a new edition soon; the Guide des Restaurants Corses (78F) and Corse: Le Cap(78F).

Corsica-Pro (www.corsica-pro.com) - Christophe Vincenti, Eric Varguas & Mathieu Frediani have published a directory of professional services for both Haute Corse and Corse du Sud.

Corse-Bureautique-Services (anne-laure.cugurno @ wanadoo.fr) - Anne-Laure Cugurno provides telephoning, typing, public scrivener, computer and other secretarial services via Internet from her Balagne village home. She can also produce headed stationery, brochures and the like. She is associated with a specialist outfit in the business of 3D animation and other special effects.

Chambers of Commerce (www.pacac.cci.fr) these are the combined chambers of Provence/Alpes/Côte d'Azur & Corse. This one is principally concerned with new technologies - you can seek services and post ads among other things.

The Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Corse du Sud (www.corse-du-sud.cci.fr) - a well set out, if a bit irritatingly jazzy site, which will be important to visit if you have in mind doing business or setting up in the south of the island.

The Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Haute Corse (www.ccihc.fr) - French chambers of commerce has a wide remit and this one is probably a necessary port of call for anyone aiming to set up in business in the Département of Haute Corse.

Computer service and websites (www.ciacomputer.com) - a Corte-based company with a friendly site and a visit of Corte town thrown in.

Island Audio (www.island-audio.com) - Pierre Luciani is a specialist maker of hi-fi audio products, based in Bastia.

sangue di e petre un si ne pó caccià - you can't get blood from a stone

Removals (www.demecorse.com) - Demecorse is a Corsican removal firm, with storage at Bastia and Ajaccio. They are part of a French and international franchise group, so if you are thinking of moving to Corsica...

Banque Populaire Provençale et Corse (www.bppc.fr) - one of the regional grouping of the Banque Populaire. A good site where you can access online banking, get simulations for lending and investment, as well as connections to the bank's many other local and group services. A subsidiary Guideo offers free internet access. Another one - Puissancenet - will help create and manage an e-commerce site for account holders at good prices.

Caisse d'Epargne (www.cepac.caisse-epargne.fr/) - this is the site of the Provence-Alpes-Corse region of the French national saving bank: online banking, investment etc as well as day-to-day operations. They have a secure internet trading service.

Crédit Agricole Corse - (www.ca-corse.fr) - this is the bank that has the lion's share of the Corsican market.

Corsican statistics (www.insee.fr/fr/insee_regions/corse) - an essential site for any intending entrepreneur; it has all the basic statistics for Corsica and the key local publications of the French national statistics institute. They publish the review Economie Corse.

Super Seminars (www.lavilla-hotel.com) - a conference delegate rate of 550F brings business a very high standard of seminar accommodation, all AV facilities, break-out rooms and a bang up lunch or dinner at one of Corsica's premier four star hotels in a magnificent position overlooking Calvi bay. Ask for Jean-Pierre Pinelli - he's the owner and resident director. Of you course you can stay there as well.

Pinarello fish farm (perso.wanadoo.fr/ferme-marine-pinarello/principgb.htm) - Corsica is France's biggest fish farming region and Pinarello do sea bream and sea bass.

Film casting and locations (www.isabelleporras.com) - Isabelle Porras's Porto Vecchio-based agency does casting and fixes locations for films, commercials and photo-shots in Corsica. They've organised locations, inter alia, for Next & La Redoute catalogues, Elle & Arena magazines and Lacoste & Chevignon brands.

Traditional building & restoration (www.ent-carlet.com) - this is a limited site that does not do the firm justice. Father and son Carlet have recently built a stunning pocket theatre in the Balagne village of Pigna, using an old technique of tuff (crushed granite) compressed with chalk.

Classified Ads (www.geckoo.com/classifieds/classifieds.cgi) - is the classified advertising service of Geckoo, with sections for most small ad types.

Web Call Centre (www.helitis.com) - Helitis is a web call centre for websites. They will take or make calls for businesses marketing services (eg banks & financial services) and goods (eg consumer products or pharmaceuticals). They will work for both domestic French clients (eg Bull) and foreign companies selling in France (eg Glaxo Wellcome).

Film Production Services (www.tanit-prod.com) - Jean-Patrick Costantini has had many years in the film business and has a well established film production services company, which now has a studio in Bastia, as well as Paris and Nice. He can organise shoots in his native Corsica as well as offering producers the full range of film services.

EEC in Corsica (www.cre-corse.org) - the site of the office of the Carrefour Rural Européen for the Corsica Region.

University Technological Institute (www.iut.univ-corse.fr) - this takes in both the tech institute and management school (Gestion des Entreprises et Administrations).

Public Service directory (www.service-public.fr) - this is obviously not a Corsican site, but it is very useful for anyone hoping to establish themselves within the French jurisdiction. It has lists of local, national, EU and international public service sites. It also has links to sites where you can download business and private government forms and there is a dedicated sub-directory for foreigners.

The Post Office (www.lapostedecorse.fr) - a handy site for people setting up in business with details of all the services for business of the French post office + philately and several other sections.

This page: An Entrepreneur in Corsica | Business Creation Ideas for Corsica | Business Startup in Corsica | Femu Quì - Corsica's Venture Capitalist | Corsican Business Websites

Other pages: Home PageFAQs | Corsican Websites | Corsican Music | Travel to Corsica | Corsican Weather | Public Life in Corsica | Corsican Language | Mystique of Corsica | Corsican Tastes & Scents | Corsica's Mountains and Coast | British & American Connections with CorsicaNewsletters | Contact

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