Social Franchising

The topic of social franchising presents an interesting and timely discussion for the franchise sector.

The potential for franchising to ‘do good’ and make a real difference to a wide range of local and global social problems provides a valuable opportunity to portray the positive power of the franchise model.

Social franchising is a new emerging segment of the franchise sector that is largely not yet well understood or fully recognised for its future growth potential.

So what exactly is social franchising?

Put simply, it is the application of commercial franchising methods to achieve a social goal. The social franchise operates much like a commercial franchise, with the key difference being that the purpose of utilising the franchise business model is to create social benefit.

The social franchise is established not to maximise profits but to enable people to work together driven by a shared social goal. The focus of a social franchise can address varied social issues such as poverty, hunger, the environment, unemployment, education, disabilities, refugees, family planning and health care to name just a few examples.

For the non-profit sector, social franchising offers a proven method for organisations to scale up successful projects and programs to achieve greater positive impact on the social problems they are striving to address. It is suited to a diverse range of social enterprises, from those operating on the ground in developing countries and local communities to those tackling growing global issues such as climate change and refugee settlement.

It is important to stress that a true social franchise is very different from a traditional for-profit commercial franchise that may deliver some social or charitable outcomes as part of its business. For a social franchise, the whole purpose of it business model is to deliver social benefit, or to ‘do good’. This is the sole reason for its existence, not just a by-product of its business.

As a concept, social franchising is starting to gain traction and rising interest as an effective means of achieving scale through replication, with the added benefits of local ownership and employment. The potential is enormous considering the scope of social problems facing the world in areas such as hunger, access to water, refugee settlement and climate change as well as more localised issues such as unemployment and disability services.

For the franchise sector, the take-up of social franchising presents a powerful opportunity to showcase its expertise in replicating good ideas through the development, documenting and implementing of systems and processes, while managing risk and maintaining the quality and consistency of products and services. By tapping into the skills of experienced franchise professionals, proven social change projects can be transformed into ‘franchisors’ that can then quickly achieve scale through local ‘franchisees’ for maximum impact and social good.

There are many ways that the established commercial franchise community can help social entrepreneurs and there is a lot of social good that the franchise business model can deliver. At its best, franchising has the potential to consistently provide high-quality and much-needed products and services to people in need who have never had access to them before.