Paris 2024 and the AFD have celebrated a year since they entered into a partnership agreement ©Paris 2024

Paris 2024 has unveiled the first group of 26 athlete entrepreneurs who are set to champion social and environmental projects in France and in Africa under its partnership with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

The group of athletes will lead the projects after being chosen from a list of 91 applicants for the "incubator" programme established by organisers of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the AFD - the French Development Agency.

Sixteen men and 10 women have been selected for the scheme, a key part of the agreement between Paris 2024 and the AFD.

Paris 2024 said it had "noted that fewer women applied to the programme" and promised to "conduct targeted action to encourage women, as well as more disabled athletes, to submit their projects in next year’s programme".

Ten of those chosen will develop projects in the host country of the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics and 16 will do so in Africa.

The programmes are set to tackle societal issues such as inclusion and integration - in particular for disabled people and people from underprivileged backgrounds - gender equality, health, education and environmental protection, Paris 2024 said.

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet hailed the benefits of the agreement with the AFD ©Getty Images
Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet hailed the benefits of the agreement with the AFD ©Getty Images

The announcement of the first 26 athletes was made to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Paris 2024 and the AFD signing their agreement and came during Global Sports Week Paris.

"The partnership with the AFD helps extend the legacy of the Paris 2024 Games to an international level, in line with the Olympic and Paralympic spirit that strives to bring different people from across the globe together in peace and solidarity," said Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet.

"Athletes have an integral role to play at the heart of this ambition.

"Throughout their careers, they develop a number of qualities that can be used to great effect in business, such as endurance, determination and a drive to improve. 

"We strongly believe that they can have a huge impact as the social entrepreneurs of tomorrow."