Many veterans transitioning back into civilian life have a desire to good in the world but also want to explore owning their own business. These two goals shouldn’t be viewed as mutually exclusive. There’s a new trend in the franchising world that more and more people are considering. It’s called social sector franchising. The idea is seeking to enhance the quality of life for underserved populations through a franchise model, and it’s worth a closer look.
This is an idea whose time has come. We already know the benefits of franchising. As Michael Seid, chair of the International Franchise Association’s Social Sector Franchising Task Force, puts it, “When a franchise system is well designed, structured and managed, it has an unparalleled capability to deliver products and services consistently, sustainably and at a lower cost of operations than other methods of product and service distribution.” And this is what makes it the perfect model for meeting critical social needs of unders-erved populations.
Most people think of serving vulnerable populations as something typically done by non-profit organizations. Unfortunately, those non-profit organization are in a constant struggle to obtain the financial resources they need for their important work. Some have explored how their mission-driven non-profit organization might operate a profitable business venture to generate a steady stream of unrestricted income to fund its programs. Building such a business venture from scratch is simply beyond the scope of most non-profits, but the franchise model provides enough structure, operational guidance, training and support to make it feasible for many organizations. In other words, for non-profits looking to fund their work with a for-profit business, the franchise model offers a way to mitigate many of the risks involved in running a business.
While this is still a relatively new idea, there are plenty of successful examples. Breaking Ground (New York City non-profit serving the homeless), Juma Ventures (San Francisco non-profit helping vulnerable youth chart a path to work, education and financial security) and Second Chance (San Diego non-profit supporting people transitioning back into the community after incarceration) all operate one or more Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shops to help fund their work. Several non-profit organizations serving disabled individuals operate AIM Mail Center franchises. These are just a couple of examples. Any franchise opportunity could be turned into a steady funding stream for a non-profit organization. In many cases, the franchise locations also serve as an employment opportunity tied directly to the populations served by the non-profit.
The opportunity to do good while doing well is an increasingly attractive option to many people. The interesting thing about social sector franchising opportunities is how veterans can be involved in either the non-profit or for-profit side of the operation, or even both. If you already work in a nonprofit organization, maybe it’s time to look at how owning a franchise could lead to financial security for your important work. If you’d like to operate a business that supports a worth cause, consider forming a partnership with a nonprofit organization and choosing a franchise to make it happen. Regardless of your approach, you can always rely on Veteran Franchising Centers to help you make an informed franchise choice because it’s what we do.