Domestic Violence Support Group

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25th has been observed since 1981 to honour the Mirabal sisters, three political activists from the Dominican Republic who were murdered in 1960. But it wasn’t an official designated day until 2000, when the United Nations called on governments, international organisations and NGOs to collectively raise public awareness every year on that date.

Eight years later, the UN launched its UNiTE campaign, 16 days of activism against gender-based violence starting on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and running to International Human Rights Day on December 10th.


0800 91 90 10 Victims of Violence Monaco
3919 Violences Femmes Info France

Additional numbers listed at end of article.

According to femicide statistics from UN Women, in 2021 some 45,000 women or girls were killed by someone in their own family – that’s an average of more than five people every hour. In France that same year, the government reported 122 women were killed by their partner or ex-partner and 35% of them were victims of previous violence by their partner. In the UK, the Femicide Census’ most recent data estimates that a woman is killed by a man every three days – and 62% of them by a current or former partner.

Paris-based therapist Jill Bourdais became involved in helping victims of domestic violence after meeting fellow American Paula Lucas in 2010. She recalls, “Paula had been cruelly abused by her Palestinian – yes, alas – husband while living in the UAE with him. She had escaped and come to Paris to talk about her non-profit then called American Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center, which is now Pathways to Safety.”

As Paula was looking for people to help her spread the word, Jill at once volunteered, and organised a forum on the subject in Paris. Jill created a Domestic Violence Support Group soon after, which she hosted and led – “at first in a little space I own in our building but with Covid, switched to Zoom, which means women from all over France now join.”

Jill grew up in Boston and after college worked in journalism for several years before changing to psychology in 1977, doing a Master’s in New York and a DESS (Diplôme d’Études Supérieures Spécialisées) in Paris in 1981. “In 1968 I’d married a Frenchman I met in New York, which led to my moving to Paris. I have been working as a therapist ever since and have had lots of experience running groups and giving workshops.

For Jill, pinpointing the signs of domestic violence is tough. “As most women’s self-confidence is beaten down by abusers, this leads to a strong sense of shame. That means that they won’t share what they are enduring as they’ve been hearing for months or years that all is their fault,” she explains.

“Repetitive physical illness can signal abuse, as can depression or little remarks about the partner controlling all decision-making in the family, as control is an essential need of the abuser. If a friend or family member senses a problem, it’s probably best to start with unobtrusive questioning about the woman’s well-being, pushing the point little by little. Avoid remarks implying that all will be okay soon, or that some small fix on her part will make everything better.” Jill advises family and friends to read up on the web the signs of abuse which are often covert, in case your friend reveals some of them, not realising that she is, in fact, being abused.

“I think people often think that abuse means physical harm done to a victim. In fact, that is not always in the mix, whereas psychological, emotional and/or financial abuse are always present. Many, many people assume that an abuse victim can ‘just leave’ without factoring in the financial costs of that, the factors regarding uprooting children, the lack of family support in France, the ignorance of administrative procedures, poor command of the language, the lack of access to money, poor or no job prospects, and inability to return home if they have children!”

The Expat Web
Addressing the complexities of expat women, Jill says, “I cannot prove this, but my belief is that expat women who do not master French are at a considerable disadvantage with the police and with the justice system here. The procedures are long and arduous. If you manage to press charges, you never know if your report will be passed along to the prosecutor or just put in a file drawer, and you can wait for months before any action is taken. If you need a translator, he or she has to be court-approved, and can be good or incompetent. You are left out of any banter among those present.” 

Jill strongly advises finding a lawyer who speaks English and has experience with domestic violence “or you will be badly represented”. She adds that even if you find the best lawyer, all outcomes depend on the judge you get, and therein lie many sad stories of judges who clearly take the side of the French abuser.

“The biggest trap is that expats who have children VERY rarely get to return with them to their home country, so they are condemned to stay in France until the child is 18. Many fathers who have never even changed a diaper sue for full custody to take revenge on their partners, and though full custody in either direction is rare, even fathers who abuse their children often obtain 50-50 shared custody.”

Women are invited to join Jill’s bi-monthly Domestic Violence Support Group which is run by volunteers. “It is for anglophones – from any country – as there are plenty of helpful associations for French speakers. We meet twice monthly for 2 hours, and attendees take turns explaining their situations. Others are invited to chime in when they have information or suggestions or questions. Usually between 3 and 7 people attend each time – not always the same women, though there are several ‘faithfuls’ who are important allies in the process.

“I do not charge for anything I do for victims, such as accompanying them to the police or to court hearings, writing attestations for court procedures, finding lawyers or useful associations in France which might help them, finding a therapist – I don’t generally act as a therapist for the women who attend my group – or just being there when they need to talk.”

On an administrative note, Jill is currently looking for a volunteer to take over the Domestic Violence Help Paris Support Group Facebook page, a private group which was created in 2020 by a volunteer who has since left. Anyone interested should email:

Article first published on November 24, 2023. Feature photo: Flickr Marco Verch.

0800 91 90 10 Victims of Violence Monaco
3919 Violences Femmes Info France

Victims of Offences Help Association (AVIP)
377 93 25 00 07 Monaco in English

SOS Help – Support in English in France
01 46 21 46 46

Violences Femmes Info

Feminist Collective Against Rape, English help available on request
Collectif féministe contre le viol (CFCV)
0 800 05 95 95

Listen Violence Against Disabled Women
Écoute Violences Femmes Handicapées (EVFH)
01 40 47 06 06

Federation 3977 Against Mistreatment of Seniors
Fédération 3977 contre les maltraitances

National Federation of Associations and Support Centres for Perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence
Fédération Nationale des Associations et des Centres de prise en Charge d’Auteurs de Violences conjugales & Familiales (FNACAV)
08 019 019 11

National Suicide Prevention France

France Victimes National Victim Assistance Number

National GAMS Federation – Group for the Abolition of Female Sexual Mutilation (excision), Forced Marriage and other traditional practices harmful to the health of women and children
La Fédération Nationale GAMS –Groupe pour l’Abolition des Mutilations Sexuelles Féminines (excision) des Mariages Forcés et autres pratiques traditionnelles néfastes à la santé des femmes et des enfants)
01 43 48 10 87

From the bedroom to the boardroom, Gavin Sharpe gives the inside scoop at leadership luncheon

A few months back, at the beginning of summer, I ran into psychotherapist Gavin Sharpe in Port Hercules. He had just finished the Wellbeing Window, his 60-minute talk show on Riviera Radio the first Wednesday of every month.

I had just finished an event for the Prince Albert Foundation, moderating a fascinating Masterclass on Courageous Leadership with Paul Polman, co-author of Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive When They Give More Than They Take. As the former CEO of Unilever from 2009 to 2019, Paul proved you can couple purpose with profit by creating a 290% return for shareholders while the company consistently ranked number one in the world for sustainability and as one of best places to work.

For Gavin, who sums up his focus in two words – love and leadership – this was right up his alley: “Transformational leadership in 2023 is not exclusively about maximising shareholder value.” He sees first hand how the future “no longer rests in the hands of a few heroic leaders but with larger groups and teams. This is potentially a once in a lifetime shift and it’s fuelling my bedroom and boardroom work.”

In collaboration with Club Vivanova, Gavin will present How To Be An Exceptional Leader During Extraordinary Times, a business lunch sponsored by Savills on November 14 at the Fairmont. (International Leadership Day is November 18).

“I want those attending to leave with a sense of how modern-day leadership has changed and understand the skills needed to meet those changes,” explains the founder of Riviera Wellbeing.

Initially a qualified lawyer in the UK, Gavin co-founded a global recruitment business specialising in legal employment in the City of London. Some 15 years later, he switched careers and became a therapist and business coach. “I help people show up,” he says.

He explains this means helping others become the best version of themselves, personally and professionally. “Imagine looking through a camera lens which is misty. What happens when you wipe it with a cloth? We see better. That’s what therapy and coaching do. It removes the blind spots and roadblocks we self-impose and which hinder our growth.”

Gavin believes there is a huge shift taking place which is changing what we want, need and expect from home and work. “At work, we are living through a massive experiment since Covid. None of us know what the workplace will look like a few years from now. When you think about the fact that we now have four different generations in the workplace from baby-boomers to generation Z, it is little wonder that companies are struggling with cultural cohesion.”

The Monaco resident adds, “I don’t think there is an MBA programme on this planet that has equipped today’s leaders for our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous workplace. That’s where I come in. I help leaders develop the resources to meet these changes.”

And at home? “In our personal lives, we are more stressed, we are more anxious and we are more medicated than at any other time in history. The impact on humanity is huge. Now add a changing workplace, global problems, such as climate change, an ageing population, political uncertainty and the list could go on, and we can see how the problems we face are interrelated. So yes, bedroom and boardroom. Love and leadership.”

Once upon it time, there was a belief that coaching and therapy were separate and never the twain shall meet. But these days, Gavin says he’s worked with racing drivers and billionaire businessmen. “I coach the person, not the problem. Likewise, therapists have a coaching toolkit which they dip into. So the separation can be important but it’s situation specific.”

For someone who has spent half his career in the corporate world and the rest working relationally, Gavin’s focus on love and leadership seems well-orchestrated. “If only I had planned it! At the start of my career, I just followed the money. That worked until it didn’t and I got bored. The more I follow my passion, the more it seems to lead me in the right direction and yes, I have had coaching and therapy along the way to get me here.”

Speaking openly about his lack of confidence growing up, he admits to not liking the Monaco cocktail party circuits – specifically the question of what he does for a living. “I think I am a bit insecure about whether I fit here. I still have no idea how to describe my work. I imagine people want a one-word answer. Banker. Lawyer. Private Equity. ‘Love and leadership’ sounds a bit too Californian but it’s growing on me. Like everyone else, I am a work in progress.”

However you describe his work, the success of the Wellbeing Window, which started back in 2021 as part of The Full English Breakfast with presenter Sarah Lycett, is indisputable. The show is inundated with email questions to the point that Gavin sometimes leaves the studio concerned he didn’t do justice to what are very serious topics.

On Wednesday, October 4th, he will be talking about The Workplace and Leadership. “When I am on air, it feels as if I’m having a fireside chat with a small group of locals. I think that sense of community is desperately missing from many of our lives and that is partly why we are seeking something additional from the workplace and why we need more emotionally attuned leaders.

“We are looking to replace some of our existential loneliness and we’re no longer prepared to go to work just for money. We want meaning.”

Tune in to the Wellbeing Window on Riviera Radio at 9 am on Wednesday, September 20th (Vulnerability) and Wednesday, October 4th (The Workplace and Leadership).

Why I shop at France’s most expensive supermarket

In the early morning of April 17, 2020, I was walking my dog when I saw two wild dogs wandering in the middle of the road. Our eyes locked just long enough for me to know what was about to happen. I scooped my dog into my arms and went into a brace position.

A high-pitch screech brought me back into my body, and when I opened my eyes, I realised it was me reacting to the sets of teeth piercing my skin. “They are going to kill you,” the voice in my head alerted. Somehow, I started running, dog clenched in arms. I darted across the street with the two beasts relentlessly chasing me as blood dripped down my legs.

This was halfway through the first covid lockdown so there were few vehicles passing by at 5:30 am. One knowingly drove by me but the 4-door car behind stopped. I jumped into the back seat. The dogs leapt onto the car as the driver tried to scare them off by honking. Eventually, the two (as I later learned) Malinois trained guard dogs that escaped from their villa continued toward Monaco and the young couple in the car dropped me off at home where I called the Police (the driver had already contacted them) who patched me through to an ambulance.

It wasn’t until after I was home from getting stitches and filing a police report (the dogs went on to attack three other victims in Monaco) that I realised I had no way of thanking the strangers who, literally, saved me and my dog from being mauled to death.

A few days later, a neighbourhood friend called to say the couple in the car worked at our local grocery story, Casino in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.

When I reunited with them to express my gratitude, the driver told me a remarkable story. That same morning of the dog attack his two-door car wouldn’t start so he borrowed his girlfriend’s sedan to get to work on time. He said it was fate because with his coworker as a passenger there would not have been room for me in his car.

From that moment on, I have been a loyal customer of Casino Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. And I would be remiss, then, if I did not address this week’s headline calling it “France’s most expensive supermarket.”

Yes, it is pricey. This is a secret to no one. The staff talk about it, locals talk about it. It’s like saying people live in Monaco to avoid paying income tax.

Yet the store bordering Monaco has its advantages. It opens weekdays at 7:30 am, so you can shop before going to work. For the budget sensitive like me, there is the CasinoMax app which gives you a 10% discount on each item. And unlike the super-sized Carrefour Monaco chockablock with shoppers, this Casino has manageable floor space with less people hogging up the aisles.

It is a store all about proximity for the Saint Roman community of all ages who shop without cars and prefer to haul their buggies and recycled bags with daily provisions rather than shop online.

The couple who run the place go out of their way to say hello to me; when my native Canada is in the news that ask about my family. I am in no way defending the owners or their retail pricing strategy. The survey (see video below) did not reveal the details of their operating expenses. Maybe they could reduce prices, I don’t know.

What I do know is that they have an exceptional staff. Every time I walk into the supermarket, there is a sense of family. I am greeted with a friendly hello, and some chit chat. These workers are mostly thirtysomethings trying to live their lives like anyone else. Some are single parents; others have had tragic loss. Some are fanatic about Christmas and baking; others have lost 20kg and are now passionate about sports. They are all accommodating in their roles and I am not always the most patient of customers.

These human connections matter to me more than the bottom line. And I think we forget that behind every headline there are lives impacted. I will continue to support France’s most expensive grocery store because someone who works there once did the right thing to help me. And doing the right thing is priceless.

Article first published on September 7, 2023.

Read in French here:

Pourquoi je fais mes courses dans le supermarché le plus cher de France

Au petit matin du 17 avril 2020, je promenais mon chien lorsque j’ai aperçu deux chiens sauvages errer au milieu de la route. Nos yeux se croisèrent juste assez longtemps pour que je sache ce qui allait se passer. J’ai pris mon chien dans mes bras et je me suis mis en position de renfort.

Un cri aigu m’a ramené dans mon corps, et quand j’ai ouvert les yeux, j’ai réalisé que c’était moi qui réagissais aux séries de dents perçant ma peau. «Ils vont te tuer», m’a alerté la voix dans ma tête. D’une manière ou d’une autre, j’ai commencé à courir, mon chien serré dans les bras. J’ai traversé la rue en courant, les deux bêtes me poursuivant sans relâche tandis que le sang coulait sur mes jambes.

C’était à mi-chemin du premier confinement covid, donc il y avait peu de véhicules qui passaient à 5h30 du matin. L’un d’eux est passé à côté de moi sciemment, mais la voiture à 5 portes derrière s’est arrêtée. J’ai sauté sur la banquette arrière. Les chiens ont bondi dans la voiture tandis que le conducteur tentait de les effrayer en klaxonnant. Finalement, les deux chiens (comme je l’ai appris plus tard) de garde dressés malinois évadés ont continué vers Monaco et le jeune couple dans la voiture m’a déposé à la maison où j’ai appelé la police (le conducteur les avait déjà contactés) qui m’a mis en contact avec une ambulance.

Ce n’est qu’après être rentré chez moi après avoir subi des points de suture et déposé plainte (les chiens ont ensuite attaqué trois autres victimes à Monaco) que j’ai réalisé que je n’avais aucun moyen de remercier les inconnus qui, littéralement, ont sauvés moi et mon chien de la mutilation à mort.

Quelques jours plus tard, un ami du quartier m’a appelé pour lui dire que le couple dans la voiture travaillait dans notre épicerie locale, le Casino Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.

Lorsque je les ai retrouvés pour leur exprimer ma gratitude, le chauffeur m’a raconté une histoire remarquable. Le matin même de l’attaque, sa voiture à deux portes ne démarrait pas, alors il a emprunté la berline de sa petite amie pour se rendre au travail à l’heure. Il a dit que c’était le destin car avec son collègue comme passager, il n’y aurait pas eu de place pour moi dans sa voiture.

Depuis ce moment, je suis un client fidèle du Casino Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Et je m’en voudrais donc de ne pas répondre au titre de cette semaine qui le qualifie de « supermarché le plus cher de France ».

Oui, c’est cher. Ce n’est un secret pour personne. Le personnel en parle, les locaux en parlent. C’est comme dire que les gens vivent à Monaco pour éviter de payer de l’impôt.

Pourtant le magasin limitrophe de Monaco a ses avantages. Il ouvre en semaine à 7h30, vous pouvez donc faire vos achats avant d’aller travailler. Pour les personnes sensibles au budget comme moi, il existe l’application CasinoMax qui vous offre une remise de 10 % sur chaque article. Et contrairement au très grand Carrefour Monaco rempli de clients, ce Casino a une surface au sol gérable avec moins de monde qui accapare les allées.

C’est un magasin de proximité pour la communauté de Saint Roman de tous âges qui fait ses courses sans voiture et préfère transporter ses caddies et sacs recyclés avec ses provisions du jour plutôt que de faire ses achats en ligne.

Le couple qui tient les lieux se met en quatre pour me dire bonjour ; lorsque mon Canada natal fait la une des journaux, ils posent des questions sur ma famille. Je ne défends en aucun cas les propriétaires ou leur stratégie de prix de détail. Le sondage (voir vidéo ci-dessous) n’a pas révélé le détail de leurs dépenses de fonctionnement. Peut-être qu’ils pourraient baisser les prix, je ne sais pas.

Ce que je sais, c’est qu’ils ont un personnel exceptionnel. Chaque fois que j’entre dans le supermarché, j’ai un sentiment de famille. Je suis accueilli par un bonjour amical et quelques bavardages. Ces travailleurs sont pour la plupart des trentenaires qui tentent de vivre leur vie comme tout le monde. Certains sont des parents seuls; d’autres ont subi une perte tragique. Certains sont fanatiques de Noël et de la pâtisserie; d’autres ont perdu 20 kg et sont désormais passionnés de sport. Ils sont tous accommodants dans leur rôle et je ne suis pas toujours le client le plus patient.

Ces liens humains comptent pour moi plus que le résultat net. Et je pense que nous oublions que derrière chaque gros titre, des vies sont touchées. Je continuerai à soutenir le supermarché le plus cher de France parce que quelqu’un qui travaille là a fait ce qu’il fallait pour m’aider. Et faire ce qu’il faut n’a pas de prix.

Article publié pour la première fois le 7 septembre 2023.

Article publié pour la première fois le 7 septembre 2023. Read article in English:


When Didier Rubiolo closed the doors at Stars’N’Bars on January 27, he said he would be back with big changes. He has lived up to his word.

His awe-inspiring new restaurant, Conscientiae, is the place to be. Not in the “Look at me, I’m dancing on the tables” kind of way, but rather to “BE”.  

“This is a new chapter but not a new Stars’N’Bars,” affirms Didier. “Stars was a big family institution that Kate Powers and I were very lucky to have created. This is continuity but we have to differentiate ourselves from that brand with a new name. I am excited to face this new challenge, something that is so positive.”  

When Conscientiae opens on July 29, there will be no lingering sentimentality from the previous space. Gone are the shiny cars and memorabilia covering the walls with big screen TVs and music. Instead, the zen-garden vibe interior will feature natural materials and plants, mirrors and soft lighting with the noticeable absence of noise: no music or televisions. A spectacular six-meter olive tree will hold court in the middle of the marble-finished bar.  

Open all day, the main floor restaurant (with a terrace from September) will serve 200 customers total a day instead of 800 with lunch (12-3 pm) and dinner from 7 pm. There will be afternoon tea with, say, a choice of a sandwich or homemade cake, and breakfast will be available in due time.

Having arrived in Monaco 40 years ago as a classically-trained chef, Didier has “pioneered the concept of healthier, conscious, and mindful dining” since early 2000s. His awareness for the environment blossomed when he and Kate started spending time on their sailboat, which led them to cofound Monacology back in 2004. “Years ago, 30 miles from the coast the blue Mediterranean Sea lay before you. Now all you see is plastic, tires and pollution. When sailing you’d see a few cruise ships and then, especially before Covid, it was cruise liners and tankers – bigger and bigger – between Spain, Corsica and Croatia.”  

With Conscientiae – which in Latin is “con”’ (with) et “scientia’ (knowledge) – Didier has transformed Stars’N’Bars’ 1800-square-metres into the country’s first multifeatured centre for environmental innovation with an eco-oriented restaurant, wellbeing floor and a private club space on the top floor. Even though the concept carries on the sustainable vision Didier and Kate both shared for our planet, there is no point in comparing restaurants.  

Conscientiae is completely different – a smaller, calming space to unwind over a 3-hour meal with prices ranging from €16 to €50. “Nowadays we are always rushing around,” says Didier. “Here it will be the opposite. You’ll have a table and space, where you are not bothered by noise and have simple food that is elaborately prepared so you can discover things that you would not have at home.”  

Didier is creating a narrative. “There will be a story behind everything we do, from our suppliers – a small producer who raises his animals outdoors and loves them – to serving our neutral water in beautiful crystal-filled glass carafes.”  

He explains that locally-sourced plant-based produce will be the stars of his limited menu. While a restaurant garden is in the pipeline from next year, for now Didier is working with Alexandra Garavan, who supplies three-star chefs with vegetables. “I’m not going to tell her what I want; I will ask what she has and we will then make something. That’s the opposite of what happens at the moment.” For the launch, Didier is going back to his kitchen roots to explore a “menu for the planet”.  

The zero-waste policy will continue. “We did this with Stars’N’Bars and we will continue to push it further. We will try and reduce waste in the kitchen and our water consumption, with water for rinsing veggies to be reused in the vegetable garden. We will separate and weigh all of our garbage and we will know exactly what comes in and what goes out, in terms of waste. The important thing with portions is for customers to eat everything on their plate so that nothing is thrown away.”  

Additionally, no industrial products or processed foods will be used. “Today we have substitutes for plastic packaging, but even these have a life cycle that is really short. It has to stop. If you want to take away a plat du jour, we will make 20 to 30 portions packed in Monaco’s new glass take-away dishes and when there is none left, there is none left. You want a coffee-to-go? Bring your own cup.”  

Didier is outspoken when it comes to over-consumption and the environment. “If we look at global warming the best thing is to consume less – it’s the easiest and most rapid technology. Do we need 25 cars? Do we need 10 pairs of shoes? It’s not logical. We overload ourselves, and we have to pay for that. I have a bicycle that’s 30 years old, but it’s not because it’s 30 years old that I need to change it. It works. I don’t understand.

“I’m not against smart growth. With Conscientiae, I’m creating a business concept that doesn’t exist in Monaco. The profitability is simple. Yes, we are lucky to have a huge space to bring together all these values and to shape a thought-provoking platform where entrepreneurs, investors, and tastemakers are brought together to defy the status quo by leading positive changes.”  

He acknowledges that, “There will always be people who won’t like this change but we – my manager, my chef, my cleaner – are proud to work in such a place. We will have confidence in our environment, and in human values. It’s not an ego trip, I’ve gained wisdom, I’ve understood.”  

Didier stops for a moment and leans in. “You know, I’ve met many small producers and when I see their passion in growing each tomato, when they explain each plant, I think, ‘Wow, you can no longer just eat a tomato in front of the TV. It deserves to be appreciated.’  

“This is what we are trying to communicate. Being aware of this moment that has been given to us. Which is why Conscientiae will really be the place to be.”  

The Conscientiae website is under construction. To make a reservation, you have to turn up in person.

Article first published July 27, 2023.

Netflix’s Parisian Agency opens Kretz Monaco

The “ordinary” Kretz family has charmed Netflix viewers with its series The Parisian Agency (L’Agence) while showing exclusive multimillion-dollar properties in the most extraordinary locations across France, including a mind-blowing €120 million listing outside of Cannes. With three seasons on the streaming giant, they have opened their first physical office, Kretz Family Real Estate Monaco.

To mark the occasion, a cocktail party at the Palais de la Scala location kicked off the launch on Wednesday, April 5. Parisian Power couple Olivier and Sandrine Kretz, who founded the agency in 2007, were on hand with son Valentin.

WATCH VIDEO: Valentin Kretz of The Parisian Agency on Netflix talks about how the family ended up opening an office in Monaco.

Also at the meet and greet were the two dynamic women who will run the Monaco office, Elodie Stienlet and Elisabeth Kozulina, both partners of Kretz Family Real Estate Monaco.

Before Netflix, the Kretz Agency dealt mostly in and around Paris, and Montpellier, where Martin studied at university. Netflix picked up “The Parisian Agency” reality show from cobuyers TMC and TF1 and now distribute it in 190 countries with subtitles in 35 languages. After two seasons on the streaming giant, the family business started developing more in the international property market, which led to the Monaco office.

“We now get requests from owners to put their properties on the show because they understand that the top luxury estates are very hard to sell and this is an amazing new way to reach people,” says Valentin Kretz, who worked in investment finance before turning to commercial real estate in New York. When he joined the family business in 2014, older brother Martin was already onboard and younger brother Louis then started in 2017. The youngest of the boys, Raphael, graduated from high school last year and is now doing an internship with the family agency. (Even grandma Majo is a regular on the show.) They work out of their 1930s home office in Boulogne Billancourt and all the sales commissions go into one pot to be divided equally amongst the family.

WATCH VIDEO: Olivier and Sandrine Kretz at Monaco launch reminiscing about the early years.

Not being a franchise is a “huge advantage” and in sixteen years, the Kretz family now counts more than 30 people in their network from Normandy and the Mediterranean to the mountains (Annecy, Courcheval…) and islands (St Baths, Martinique…). They are big in London, Portugal and the US. “We have an extended family through our agency. We work with others who share the same values and there is no fighting, no competition. We follow our clients, and they have expanded everywhere,” says Valentin. Read more about the Kretz family.

WATCH VIDEO: Former BBC producer Rebecca McVeigh weighs in the popularity of The Parisian Agency at Kretz Monaco party.

Article first published April 5, 2023.

Helene Guillaume

Helene Guillaume was in town today to speak to students at the International University of Monaco. Based in Portugal and working between the UK and US, the 36-year-old entrepreneur grew up Belgium, Hong Kong, Japan and Peru, although her family settled in Monaco a decade ago.

A competitive rugby player who went on to compete in 100-km ultra runs, Half Ironmans, ice swimming and surfing, Helene had little understanding about her own physiology. “I was training and eating like a man,” she recalls. “I wanted to transform an industry through sports performance and female health.”

The “outdoor addict” combined a passion for sport with her Master’s in Finance and Financial Risk Management, as well as her scientific background as a management consultant optimising internal risk models using AI to Fortune 500 companies (including Fannie Mae) to found WILD.AI in 2017 in San Francisco. The app has a free and paid version available on Apple and Google Play.

Although women make up nearly half of the population, a 2018 paper on “Sex Bias in Neuroscience and Biomedical Research” showed that 80% of the animals used in research are male. “These findings cannot be applied to women who are impacted daily by the 500 menstrual cycles they’ll experience over 40 years,” explains the first-time mom. “More so, a 22-year-old taking the pill has different nutritional needs, physiology and digestion than a 47-year-old perimenopausal woman.”

Using the catchphrase “Unleashing the beast in female athletes,” Helene and her 10 employees want to radically advance female health by building the largest record of female datasets— across all ages, life stages and ethnicities—to help women understand their bodies. “Based on fitness trackers, blood tests and pap smears, women have vast amounts of data but it’s not stored in one place. We understand our cars more than our own bodies.”

Through WILD.AI’s research and algorithms, the app can not only predict that in two days a woman will experience bloating or menstrual pain, but also advise how to alleviate these symptoms. It can indicate that during ovulation, when the body is particularly strong, workouts can be pushed, and even be able to foretell a window of a higher sex drive.

According to Statista, the femtech market in 2021 was worth some $51 billion worldwide and is expected to reach $103 billion by 2030. Helene, a former Hedge Fund quant, says angel investors and advisors have been critical to the startup’s growth, enabling WILD.AI to reach some of the most renowned researchers in female health, such as Dr. Stacy Sims, senescence, and human performance.

Funding early on came from the London-based deep tech incubator Entrepreneur First (which includes board member and Linkedin cofounder, Reid Hoffman, and is backed by Greylock Partners, Founders Fund and McKinsey), as well as The Refiners in San Francisco, started by three French entrepreneurs, including Géraldine Le Meur (LeWeb).

In August 2021, Helene appeared on Dragon’s Den to pitch her startup (WATCH Video below) and today WILD.AI has partnerships with Adidas, Garmin and Oura, which she has worked non-stop to develop. “Running a startup is like getting fired a few times a day,” she shares enthusiastically. “Between investors who pull out or strategic partners who don’t come on board … and being a founder is way less sexy than it sounds.”

Article first published April 27, 2023.

Robb Report Monaco unveils inaugural cover at Yacht Club

WATCH VIDEO: Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur publishers Luiz Costa Macambira and Karl-Henry Edstrom at magazine launch May 22.

Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur officially launched at the Monaco Yacht Club on Monday, May 22.

Bringing the voice of luxury to the Principality is Swede Karl-Henry Edstrom, who ran the Robb Report in his native country from 2017 to 2019 before turning his vision to the French Riviera. (WATCH VIDEO).

Karl teamed up with businessman and veteran publisher Luiz Costa Macambira, a longtime resident and the formidable force behind two Forbes franchises, Monaco and the Netherlands. Luiz cemented his reputation in the Principality in building the Forbes Monaco brand through its print and digital platforms, supported by exclusive UHNW events from 2018 to 2022.

The two Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur publishers are working with seasoned creative director Peter Soderberg to produce four issues in 2023 (six next year) which will be on sale at 450 newsstands, bookshops and airports in Monaco, the French Riviera, the French Alps and in Paris. The May 2023 “Launch Issue” (146 pages; €12) will be followed by “Best of the Best” on July 12.

Robb Report dates back to 1976, when it was a mimeographed antiques newsletter founded by Robert White trying to sell collectibles. Four decades on, it counts 19 international editions worldwide and was described by Forbes as “a bible of bling for America’s most conspicuous consumer.”

In 2016, Penske Media Corporation acquired the Robb Report. The media giant, who owns Variety, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and others, says the “Robb Report is the global voice of real luxury, with its fingers on the pulse of the latest superlative products and experiences that today’s modern consumers seek.”

“Real luxury” perfectly sums up the Robb Report Monaco cocktail Monday evening on the Observatory Deck. Even the €100,000 Hästens bed set up for the launch paled in comparison the 200 UHNW residents and guests who came to support Luiz. (Spoiler alert: expect more titles from Luiz later this year.)

Official launch with Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur team.

Article first published May 22, 2023.

Serena Benedetti Roy

Serena Benedetti Roy grew up in Monaco but created her first company, Kosmob, in China back in 2006. Only 22 at the time, she would spend the next four years developing and manufacturing her moped brand to sell in France.

“I did a student exchange in China when I was 13 and, even though I was young, I could tell the country had an exciting potential for development and it became my dream to work there,” recalls Serena. With a degree in industrial management at the French business school, Grenoble Ecole de Management, the entrepreneur had always been interested in both the technical and operational side of business. “Still today, my favourite professional activity is visiting factories to see how machines work.”

By 2011, the electric vehicle market in France was slowing and the French-Italian and Serena decided to enter the corporate world. She returned to Monaco and worked for ten years at Single Buoy Moorings (SBM) Offshore in Quality Assurance and Project Supply Chain.

It was four years ago at SBM Offshore that the idea for her latest startup, Akimba, came to light out of “personal necessity”. As she puts it, “I realised that I had a lot of nice clothes in my closet but I was reluctant to wear them at the office for two reasons – the embarrassment of perspiration stains and the dry-cleaning costs to get them out.”

Serena searched online for a solution to protect her clothes from sweat stains. “I found no-sweat T-shirts, mostly for men. So, I decided to do something about it.” She came up with The Fresh Bra™, a patent-pending bralette.

At the end of 2020, and expecting her first child, Serena opted for voluntary redundancy during SBM Offshore’s last round of downsizing. “I had a deep feeling this side project could turn into a real business. This product I was creating could improve the quality of life for many women, making them feel more confident in their clothes and allowing them to wear colours they would never dare to before. So, I took a leap of faith.” Akimba was founded in November 2021.

The soon to be 39-year-old (her birthday is August 28th) explains Akimba is inspired from the word akimbo, a standing position with your hands on your hips and your elbows pointing outward to create strength and courage. (Serena demonstrates in above photo.) “Posing like this makes you feel that anything is possible. And that’s the feeling I want to give to women who wear my products.”

But what exactly is “empowering lingerie”? Serena clarifies, “The Fresh Bra™ has been designed for maximum discretion, comfort and femininity. It is the first undergarment of its kind that not only supports the breast but also conceals sweat to keep your outfits looking perfect. All materials are plant-based and include anti-bacterial and fast-drying properties.”

Serena’s research unveiled a global market for active women with sweat issues – this includes everything from undergarments to professional treatments like botox and surgery – estimated at €3.5 billion. “I’m already working on different versions of The Fresh Bra™ and also some shorties to prevent thigh chafing.”

The serialpreneur launched The Fresh Bra™ last month on July 4th and hopes it will become a wardrobe game changer for 20,000 women in France and Europe within three years. “My 10-year vision is to be the first brand that pops into mind when you think of undergarments that are premium products and for empowering women – helping them feel more comfortable in their clothes and more confident in all aspects of their lives.”

Serena is counting on MonacoTech’s startup program to help Akimba reach these goals. “Entrepreneurship is quite lonely. I wanted to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs and decided to apply. MonacoTech has helped me to better structure my vision and the actions to achieve it. They have provided me with a sounding board for major decisions and given me good visibility in the local press.”

Akimba has no hires as of yet as Serena has been working with a freelance fashion designer, a pattern maker and a R&D company to develop the product. The polyglot (she speaks English, French, Italian and Chinese) reveals she took pattern making classes to have better control over product development. “My biggest learning curve has been to understand the ins and outs of the undergarment industry and the technical side of producing a piece of clothing.”

At the moment, the innovative bra is available online only but Serena is looking for retailers in Monaco and France to start selling Akimba products in the fall. She admits, though, that the supply chain is a major risk. “Recently prices of eco-friendly fabrics have surged. There are also not many manufacturers who can deliver high-quality standards for premium products like The Fresh Bra™.”

The Monaco Economic Board member believes that success is not only measured by your business’ bottom line but also by your happiness level. Her ultimate role model is Spanx founder Sara Blakely. “She’s not only a very smart entrepreneur but also a mom of four who has a lot of humour and empowers women in most of her activities.” Locally, Serena follows Marcela Kern @onboardwithmarcela. “I enjoy her energy, and her mix of professional and fun content. Plus, I get to learn a few things about the yachting industry.”

Tech-savvy Serena is also a big podcast enthusiast. So much so that in 2020, she started her own podcasts – Super Women of Monaco – to showcase the remarkable women in the Principality. “I also host the Akimba podcast to share the entrepreneurial journey of women who create brands and companies with the aim of helping other women.”

Article first published August 7, 2023.

Fearless Re.Generation leaders look to the Earth, empathy and community for climate solutions

I have come to the conclusion that Planetary Health is like the unpredictable relative no one wants to invite to a family gathering. You know what I’m talking about, that family member whose presence makes others feel uncomfortable because inevitably there will be drama. Instead, everyone pretends everything is normal, hoping the problem will magically go away. But it only gets worse. Year after year.

And I get it. Planetary Health is a monumentally complex and distressing topic and, on top of that, we are in a race against time. The reality is that the planet is facing a double environmental crisis – the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. We are on track to reach 1.5°C global warming as early as 2034. In parallel, we have seen a 69% decline in the world’s wildlife populations in the past 40 years.

Beyond the headlines, it is not all doom and gloom. There is hope to ensure a sustainable future for people and nature, but it will require a rapid and transformative shift across sectors to drastically reduce emissions and fundamentally change the way we produce, the way we consume, and the way we finance.

This is where Re.Generation comes in (See Videos Below). This latest initiative from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s (PA2F) brought together six brilliant women and four outstanding men from around the world for its first Re.Generation Future Leadership Program, which rounded off two weeks of training on July 13.

Not to be confused with youth leadership for entry level skills, this group of Millennials is recognised already in helping to fight climate change and biodiversity loss in four areas – Startsups and Business, Storytelling, Communities and Finance. They are representatives of a generation who are convinced that another way of using Earth’s resources is possible, convinced that we must protect and regenerate nature.

These Re.Generation cohorts are carrying the weight of your future on their shoulders. They are not afraid to look Planetary Health in the eyes or call out others who fail to do so, offering solutions with a powerful sense of urgency. I know because I had the good fortune of spending the last two weeks watching them in action and listening to their concerns.

I encourage you to watch the videos below to put a face to their names and stories. These individuals are a reflection of how the Prince Albert Foundation is stepping up its drive to accelerate change by engaging Millennials and creatives in innovative ways to help spread the message. And I assure you, this Re.Generation group may have arrived in Monaco as leaders. But they leave as experts.

Startups (WATCH VIDEO)
The world has set very ambitious targets for 2030 to protect 30% of land and sea, and to restore what has been degraded. But 2030 is tomorrow, some 78 months away. What is the role of startups and the business sector in this vision?

Anne-Sophie Roux is a French ocean entrepreneur whose startup Tenaka is focusing on reversing marine degradation by restoring marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves, and, importantly, doing this at scale.

Colombian Federico Perez is the Founder and CEO of Selvitas, a company focusing on nature-based solutions and social equity in Latin America, particularly to tackle deforestation.

Sabrine Chennaoui is the co-founder and CEO of the Tunisian green start up, MONSAPO, which looks to revolutionise chemical products we use every day, and she is an advocate for empowerment of women in the workplace.

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation launched this year its Re:Ocean Fund, a private equity fund dedicated to SDG 14 that will support startups focusing on marine pollution, blue food, ecosystem protection and restoration, and equipping ocean stakeholders with robust and transparent data. What role can these kinds of funds play to help scale up innovative solutions?

Ghassan Atallah is Lebanese with a background in mechanical engineering, who moved into the finance and investing space and is doing his MBA at Harvard Business School.

Storytellers (WATCH VIDEO)
How to get the message out, both to policy makers and to the general public, to help instigate the transformative sectoral and societal change that we need to tackle the environmental crisis we are living?

Gunjan Menon is a prize-winning wildlife filmmaker from India, and a Natural Geographic Storytelling Explorer, particularly focused on human-wildlife coexistence.

Valy Phommachak is the founder of Econox Laos, a social enterprise for environmental protection strongly involving local communities. She also founded Econews Laos, the first and only environmental news platform in the country, and is an advocate for youth empowerment.

Imogen Napper – aka the “Plastics Detective” – is a British marine scientist and National Geographic Explorer who is researching plastic pollution and its sources. Her work influences policy change and was used as a basis for new legislation banning certain products.  

Communities (WATCH VIDEO)
To put solutions into place, transparency, inclusivity, and co-construction are crucial, making sure that no one is left behind. Local communities and indigenous peoples are often at the forefront of impacts of climate change and nature degradation.

Victoria Herrmann is a storyteller and geographer from the US works very close with communities on adaptation pathways to climate change, ensuring the empowerment of local communities in safeguarding their cultural heritage.

Pedro Fernandez is an agricultural engineer, who has been working with land managers and farmers in his native Argentina to help them transition to a more sustainable way of ranching.

Jahawi Bertolli is an award-winning Kenyan filmmaker, TV presenter and National Geographic Explorer who focuses on underwater and involves local communities in Africa to delivering the storytelling message.  

A 2021 Pew Research Center report showed that 69% of American adults surveyed say large businesses and corporations are “doing too little to address climate change” while two-thirds say “ordinary Americans are doing too little to help reduce the effects of climate change.”

The research also stated that 71% of Millennials (born 1981–1996) believed that climate should be top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations compared to 67% for Gen Z (1997–2012), 63% for Gen X (1965–1980) and 57% for Baby Boomers (1946–1964).

Article first published July 16, 2023. Feature image: Re.Generation Program/Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.