In 2015 the United Nations brought countries together to commit to eradicating poverty by adopting 17 sustainable development goals to achieve by 2030. The goals are ambitious and will require new approaches to solving some of the most pressing problems that plague people around the globe, even though solutions to those problems exist. How does this involve franchising? Read on!
Why disrupt the status quo?
The technology for meeting basic human needs for healthcare, nutrition, safe drinking water, sanitation, clean energy and education all exist and yet all too often, the solutions are not finding their way to the people who need them. Clearly, traditional approaches are insufficient. President Bill Clinton famously said, “Nearly every problem has been solved by someone, somewhere. The challenge of the 21st century is to find out what works and scale it up.” No-one is better equipped to meet that challenge than people who are familiar with the tools of commercial franchising.
Solving basic needs
Franchising has the potential to increase access to products and services that solve basic needs by scaling the concepts that have already been developed and proven to be both socially impactful on the community, and profitable to the business owner. Franchises of this type are often referred to as ‘social franchises’. In addition to solving social needs, social franchises, like commercial franchises, have the potential to stimulate economic growth by bringing businesses into communities, creating jobs and wealth opportunities and developing building skills that can be transferred outside of the franchise. By doing so, they can also create a middle class.
Social franchising is only beginning to emerge as an international development strategy. The current landscape of social businesses is vast but only a handful is using the tools of franchising to expand with any degree of success (e.g. In Africa, Jibu franchises safe drinking water, Sanergy franchises sanitation products and services, Farm Shop franchises agricultural products and services, and CFW franchises health care). The field is gaining momentum and the untapped potential is tremendous, but only if the model is used with integrity. That includes developing through distinct stages and achieving certain benchmarks before advancing from one stage to the next. While this may be obvious to those familiar with commercial franchising, it may be less so to entrepreneurs in low-income countries who are not equipped to drive the field without franchise experts to guide them.
A new generation of franchise professionals is emerging as people become aware of how their expertise can save lives. These people include US and European-based franchisors who decide to create new social businesses and use master franchising to expand to emerging market countries; commercial franchise executives who decide to take a risk and join the team of a social franchise in order to help it succeed; franchise consultants and executives who contribute time and financial resources to assist social entrepreneurs based in emerging market countries with scaling their concepts, and individuals who invest in social franchises as their own way to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 sustainable development goals.
Kelli Schindelegger, VP International Franchise Development for Jibu, and Ian Vickers, Founder and CEO of Global Partners in Hope are examples of this positive trend. Kelli was a member of the international business development team for Chili’s Grill & Bar where she succeeded in helping the company execute its system in more than 35 countries. Kelli was happy with her career in corporate America until Jibu’s Cofounder & President, Randy Welsch rocked her world by introducing her to the concept of social franchising. Kelli said, “The idea that you could monetize businesses that provide life-saving products and services was something I had to be a part of.”
Kelli acknowledges that it was scary to leave the security of an established brand in an established field to join a start-up in a newly-emerging field, but has never looked back. She says that the decision has paid off in a multitude of ways. “Each week Jibu creates five new jobs, one locally-owned franchise business, and delivers safe drinking water to hundreds of new customers in East Africa who otherwise would not have access to this very basic need,” she says. Ian Vickers has been straddling the worlds of international development and commercial franchising for several years. His introduction to the concept of social franchising inspired him to apply his franchise expertise to his development work in Africa. The approach has succeeded in creating health centers that are replicating sustainably in an expanding number of African countries. Ian has raised capital for his work from franchise companies interested in supporting good causes through donations or impact investments. The opportunity to give to a cause that uses the franchise model to scale concepts that improve and save lives is very appealing to the franchise community. These people understand the transformative power of the franchise model and see how their investments in social franchising can yield much higher social and financial returns than traditional charitable giving.
An increasing number of franchise executives contribute to social franchising through the International Franchise Association’s Social Sector Task Force that Michael Seid and Marla Rosner, of MSA Worldwide co-lead. Task force members include franchise executives, franchise advisors, franchise lawyers, and social franchisors that work together to develop tools, education programs, and mentoring partnerships. Peter Holt, CEO of The Joint Chiropractic, and Lori Kiser Block, President of Rapid Refill, have been particularly engaged mentors who are also collaborating with the University of New Hampshire’s Social Sector Franchise Initiative’s Living Case Study project to accelerate the growth of two social franchises in Africa.
In sum, the tools of franchising have the potential to transform the field of international development and contribute significantly to the achievement of the 2030 sustainable development goals. More and more, members of the franchise community are stepping up to support social entrepreneurs and international development professionals in using these tools effectively. As a result, a new field of social franchising is emerging. The bold pioneers in this new field are poised to make the world a better place for everyone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie McBride is Senior Social Franchise Consultant at MSA Worldwide and a thought leader in the field of social franchising. Recently named one of ‘Five Innovative Consultants that are changing the world’ by Inc. magazine, Julie has devoted her career to helping low-income people around the globe gain access to products and services they need to live healthy and productive lives. More information: firstname.lastname@example.org