French Chambre de Métiers – what does it offer?
Official support is available for the hundreds of thousands of artisanal businesses specialising in trades and crafts.
The Chambre de Métiers et de l’Artisanat (CMA) is a public body providing a support network for such businesses to grow.
There are almost 100 branches across France covering most departments. They look after 250 trades and crafts, divided into four categories: food, building, crafts and services.
Visit cfe-metiers.com/HTM/activites.aspx for the full list.
There are also training centres for young people or those changing career to learn skills, and to give business advice.
CMA spokesman Laurence Chevalier said: “We exist to help craftsmen and women to conduct their business under the best possible circumstances.
“People often hunt online for the answer to a problem but they do not have to. They can go straight to their local CMA in person or by phone and we will often have the answer.
“A great deal of our help is free, though we do charge for some courses.”
If your business is classified as artisanal, with fewer than 10 employees, and it is your main or secondary activity, you have to be registered on the répertoire des métiers with your local CMAand you must have done so at least a month before you are operational.
To be an artisan, you need a professional qualification or to have had three years working in the trade that you wish to start in as a business. Qualifications from other countries can be taken into account.
You may be asked to pay a fee, which goes towards the running costs of the Chambre de Métiers – some chambers charge this and some do not.
The optional stage de préparation à l’installation (SPI) can be useful as it covers sales, legal structure, tax, social status and general advice for running a business. It costs about €200, with reductions in some cases and regional differences.
It can be done any time after registration and there is an online version.
The Chambre also gives advice on taking over an existing artisan business as well as how to sell your own. You can search for businesses for sale at entreprendre.artisanat.fr.
It cites that 31% of artisans have come from a totally different career and 30% are over the age of 55.