So many people ask me... "Why do you do what you do?" This is why!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Emmanuelle Gimenez. I’m French and I founded Sojoourn a year and a half ago. I had the opportunity to live abroad (in Mexico and Argentina) for my studies, it was one of the best experiences of my life.
When I came to France, it was quite difficult for me to reintegrate because these experiences changed me a lot and I wouldn’t be put in a box. So I decided to quit my well-paid job to create my own company. Living in a different country and do something I love was life-changing for me and I want to help people do the same.
The number of expatriates in the world is estimated today at 56 million (56% women, 44% men), according to the annual Expat Insider study, conducted by Internations. And France is ranking at the 17th place as the “best places to live” based on regular surveys among expats using 15 different criteria.
I became determined to change the ranking and put France on the top 5 best places in the world for expats.
I started building a community of expat-minded (international & French) people who can understand and support each other! At the same time, I wanted to connect and build relationships with others expats in Lyon to feel less lonely and better understood.
So I founded Sojoourn on the foundation of networking and building connection together. I’m passionate about building bridges between people. Building a community was my first priority and I’m so proud that now there are 1000+ members in Sojoourn community from all over the globe! A unique world connection in Lyon!
Each month, I run the ApéroExpats, a networking event. Bringing expats together, creating a space for expats to connect and create real relationships. It didn’t make much money but it was a start.
I then started leveraging from these events to run focus groups asking expats what they felt are the barriers they face to successful integration. I heard the same answers over and over again; trouble finding a job, lack of confidence speaking French, difficulty making friends, difficulties accessing professional networks for expats. Garnering these insights I came up with an idea. I was going to create a place providing everything expats need to enjoy their experience abroad all under the roof of Sojoourn.
I design dedicated events with memberships for expats to connect but also for expats entrepreneurs.
During this one year of being an entrepreneur myself, I realized that helping expat entrepreneurs was one of my reasons for being. I want to offer more visibility to business owners and entrepreneurs of our community. As an entrepreneur, I know how it can be hard to run a business, it takes a lot of time and energy to get more visibility so it is important for me to offer something special for them and highlight their skills.
Learning French, finding a job, starting a business can be lonely sometimes, especially when you just arrived in a new country/city and you haven’t built your network yet!
Connecting to community and support is invaluable and I’ve made it my job to connect you.
I want to offer you intimate connections so I will be working on an online networking organization besides our networking meetups. It is a great way to tap into a community with others expats like you, who get you, who can support you, who can refer you and who can grow with you!
Sojoourn is also a modern expat assistant. One of my missions is to provide a lot of information that you can’t easily find online or even at all in some cases. Expats books and so on can tell you a bit about life in France but I make a point of keeping up-to-date information, to help you find exactly the right answer for your needs. I have a good relationship with local experts. Personal contact like this is smarter and more effective, than simply searching online.
More than expat assistant, I provide support and inspiration for you to help you start your journey and to feel at home in your new city.
I am a BIG believer in helping expats integrate and highlight their talents because I’m convinced that cultural diversity is wealth!
Sojoourn is on a mission to be the driving force that makes France the best place in the world for expats. We foster an environment that creates the greatest opportunities for expats to succeed.
I would love to meet you and hope you will come along the journey with us.
Feel free to reach out to us to have a free consultation.
See you around,
Emmanuelle, Founder & CEO