Franchise Model

An organization can franchise its "proven social enterprise model" and sell it to other nonprofits to operate as their own business. Franchising enhances nonprofit organizations that have viable, yet non-scaleable social enterprises, through replication. For example, a café that employs disabled people may be profitable only when it employs 12 or fewer disabled people. However, if franchised, the café social enterprise can create employment for hundreds of disabled people. Goodwill Industries’ used clothing and furniture retail stores are a good example of an employment model social enterprise achieving scale through the franchise model.

Hence, the franchise model enhances scalability and social value creation through replication. Purchasers pay franchise fees to receive the social enterprise model, methodology, etc., and ongoing technical support from the franchiser. Buying a franchise enables nonprofit organizations to focus on running operations of a proven enterprise, rather than worrying about what type of business to start, which products to sell, or what markets to enter. Becoming a franchiser creates a new social enterprise for the organization that leverages the organization’s industry and business expertise, and in turn creates new social impact opportunities and another source of earned income.

The franchise itself can be any successful and replicable social enterprise. The social enterprise model may be any of those listed, depending on the type of business and objectives. Ben and Jerry’s Partner Scoop Shop is another good example of a social enterprise enhanced through the franchise model.

Theoretical Example:

An integrated microfinance organization sells its trademarked methodology, which combines health and business education with financial services, to credit unions in developing countries. The US-based parent organization provides consulting and ongoing technical support to franchisees. This approach allows the franchiser to earn money, achieve greater social impact via scale, and keep costs low by leveraging its program methodology and credit unions' infrastructure.



Committee for Democracy in Information Technology (CDI), an example of Franchise Model

The Committee for Democracy in Information Technology (CDI) is a nonprofit organization with a two-fold mission: to promote digital inclusion and create awareness of citizen's rights principles through the use of information technology. CDI works in partnership with schools and community-based associations through a social franchise model providing free computer equipment, software, and educational strategies.

Each school is managed as an autonomous unit and is self-sustainable through contributions made by students, who provide the necessary funds to cover the maintenance costs and the instructors' salaries. Its methodology was developed by CDI in partnership with specialists from the Campinas State University in Brazil, which operates in 19 Brazilian states.

CDI is continuously expanding its national and international network and is presently located in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. This educational approach to information technology has also been complemented with extensive job training and an internship program in high-tech related fields, catalyzing a powerful multiplying effect in improving the lives the students and their communities. An interesting example is a group of CDI students from the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro who first interned with StarMedia Brazil and later went on to secure positions teaching technology and Internet skills to youth with Globo.com and elsewhere.