Being a relative newbie to France, I’m interested in joining any groups that will help me integrate into the French way of life. So, after seeing an advert at French class, I attended a meeting of Les Dames de F.E.R, (Femmes Entrepreneurs Rurales), a newly formed association set up for female entrepreneurs living and working in rural France.
Aim of Les Dames de F.E.R.
The purpose of Les Dames de F.E.R is to create a social network for women in business in rural France, providing training and coaching. They also aim to encourage members to set up their own business, support them with the economic growth of their existing businesses and to network with other women to learn from and share their experiences. Also to improve their French language skills.
After an address by the President, Vice President and Secretary of Les Dames de F.E.R, it was time to meet and mingle to share ideas and network. As a freelance writer, it was great to meet someone who does the same as me and chat about the work available here in France. It was a hugely diverse group consisting of a Sculptor, Hairdresser and Beautician as well as Teachers, Gite and Campsite Owners, a Cake Decorator and a lady who had set up her own Performing Arts School. I was also surprised to meet someone who specialised in Fosse Septiques and another who dealt with checking out the water and electric supplies when you sell your house.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning, hugely motivating and I came away feeling that I wasn’t alone in my venture to find work as a self-employed person. The ladies were all very friendly, the atmosphere was relaxed and informal, and the lunchtime meal after the meeting was very tasty!
It costs 15 Euros a year to join Les Dames de F.E.R, which is great value for money and a small fee is required to take part in training workshops. At the moment, this group runs in the Charente area of France, but it’s such a good idea for a group, you may feel inspired to set up something similar in your area. It’s great to know you have a support network of other like-minded women to share your experiences with.