Queenslanders of Indigenous background interested in owning and operating their own small business are being encouraged to participate in a new Queensland Government-backed franchise pilot initiative.

The landmark project seeks to create a pathway for suitably qualified Indigenous persons to transition to small business ownership via the franchising sector.

Successful applicants will be matched with a franchise system that aligns with their interests and location. No funding is being provided for the franchise investment but participants will receive extensive guidance and mentoring on their journey to becoming a franchisee.

The‘Franchise Model Evaluation and Pilot Program for Advancing Indigenous Business Initiative’ project is being undertaken by The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) Business School in conjunction with FranchiseED, a not-for-profit that provides independent educational services to the franchise sector to encourage best practice.

Professor Lorelle Frazer, Dean and Head of the USC Business School, said the two-year program aims to evaluate the scope for utilising the franchise sector as a career pathway strategy for Indigenous people to move into business ownership.

“The Queensland Government is funding this important new program as part of its commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into small business ownership,” Professor Frazer said.

“Transitioning to small business ownership can not only provide financial independence and security, but also wider economic and social flow-on benefits to local communities.”

“This project seeks to leverage the systems and reach of the franchising sector to provide a clear pathway into small business ownership for people of Indigenous background, with the added support of an expert matching service and experienced franchise guidance and mentoring along the way.”

Australia’s franchise sector employs a total of 472,000 people across 79,000 business units and 1,120 franchise brands and generates $146 billion a year in total sales revenue, according to the latest Franchising Australia survey in 2016.

Kerry Miles, Director of FranchiseED, said the new two-year Queensland program to encourage Indigenous people into franchise ownership will seek a minimum of four potential franchisees from throughout the state to be placed and mentored within an existing franchise system.

“As the first stage of the project, we are actively seeking Expressions of Interests from suitably qualified and motivated people of Indigenous background to be involved,” Ms Miles said.

“This is great opportunity for aspirational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to receive an invaluable guiding hand into business ownership by becoming a franchisee with a franchise system aligned to their interest and geographic location.”

“While there are no set criteria, we are seeking people with a stable employment history, proven responsibility, consistency and leadership qualities, solid connections to family and their local community, and a strong willingness to learn new things and challenge themselves,” Ms Miles said.

“The right attitude will be a very important attribute in the successful applicants. To succeed, they will need to demonstrate they are hard workers with resilience who won’t give up when faced with obstacles that will inevitably arise. They must also display the confidence and courage to put themselves out there in the pursuit of owning and operating their own franchise business.”

Ms Miles said the Queensland Government-backed franchise pilot project for Indigenous people is closely aligned with the social mission of FranchiseED to use the strength and size of the franchise sector to educate, employ and improve the lives of socially and economically disadvantaged groups.
She said all Expressions of Interest from potential franchisees in the first stage of the project will be assessed by the project managers. Suitable applicants will then be interviewed to ascertain their interests that may match with a franchise opportunity available in the local area.

“We will be helping, guiding and mentoring successful applications at every stage of the processes of becoming a franchise,” Ms Miles said. “This program is a wonderful opportunity for applications with the right background, attitude and aspiration to springboard into franchise business ownership and in the process deliver important economic and social benefit to their families and local communities.”