In partnership with Black Enterprise magazine, the MIF Committee is developing a series of two-day seminars for business majors at five of the country's leading colleges where enrollment by African Americans and Hispanic students is high. Due to roll out in 2002, these seminars will promote awareness of the franchise business model and hopefully spark an interest among attendees to pursue franchising as a career.
Whereas a college student might be recruited into a managerial level positions, Oldham thinks there are still considerable opportunities for people who haven't benefited from a college education to work up through the ranks of a franchise chain. An ambitious employee can progress to become "A manager of a restaurant can earn upwards of $30,000. He or she would then be responsible for a staff of 10 to 20 people and a business grossing from $600,000 to $1 million a year. Not too many people today are running million dollar companies," Oldham remarks. "A district manager could be overseeing six times that number."
This kind of on-the-job exposure to front and back room operations is often coupled with classroom training and onsite support for employees who decide to become franchisees through ownership programs created by individual franchise companies.
Oldham himself got ahead by working within the franchise system. "I know these opportunities exist but it's difficult convincing people to come on board when the culture puts down fast-- food franchise workers," he says. He hopes his crusade on behalf of the franchise community might result in increased awareness and sensitivity so that there isn't a stigma attached to employees pulling themselves up the old fashioned way-by the proverbial bootstraps.
IFA has already created some of this awareness through its on-going efforts to communicate minority successes and issues both internally and externally. One such story in a recent issue of Black Enterprise magazine emphasizes that many franchises are surprisingly affordable. Franchise companies throughout the country that have developed their own minority outreach programs are joining the chorus and making the franchise diversity message even stronger.
Building Strategic Alliances
Like most nations, the U.S. has many economically disadvantaged areas. But franchising provides rays of hope. In an effort to keep the spotlight on the educational programs and financial partnerships that encourage minority participation in franchising, Marcel Portmann, vice president of Emerging Markets and Global Development creates strategic alliances with organizations that reach out to similar populations in designated economic development or empowerment zones.
The National Congress for Community Economic Development, the SBA, Businesses for Social Responsibility, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Department of Rural Business are among the groups that are eager to work with franchise companies in order to jump start flagging economies in designated empowerment zones.
If the name of the game ultimately is the bottom line, franchising can be a winning ticket-a way up for people within emerging markets and a way in for forward-thinking franchise companies.
This fall, key members of the franchise community are hoping to meet with the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses in Washington, D.C. to discuss this mutually beneficial relationship. Key representatives from the franchise community will be on hand to discuss how the franchise model can work to jump-start the economy in urban and rural economic zones across the country.
And that's only one of such meetings that highlighted IFA's hectic fall schedule calendar. In October, Portmann led an IFA seminar given in partnership with the New Jersey Economic Development Agency. "There are retail strips in this casino city that local officials would like to see developed by minority entrepreneurs," he says.
Following this conference, Portmann will attended others in New Jersey. Then went on to the Congress on Community Economic Development in Pittsburgh and the Franchise Expo of the Americas in Miami for a seminar for the Hispanic market.
Portmann explains that federal, state, county, city and private lending sources are leveling the playing field for minorities in franchising, and franchise companies are eager to open their doors. Disposable income in economically disadvantaged areas may be lower when measured in individual terms, he explains, but collectively there is tremendous buying power. And there are even greater rewards on the horizon. "There's a trend to bring people back to the cities through urban revitalization efforts," Portmann states.
From Globalization to Localization
At the end of the last century, franchise companies extended their reach into the far corners of the globe and used sophisticated technology to stay in touch. As a result, the world of franchising became bigger and smaller at the same time. Portmann feels globalization and the expansion of the Superhighway have both exposed franchise companies to new ideas and cultures. And vice versa. "Companies couldn't be successful in their expansion efforts if the consumers didn't first give them the right to be there," he points out. The same is true of companies entering new markets here in the U.S.
"Franchising is a method of expansion and it's working locally at the community development level just as it has globally," he says. As the road to inclusion penetrates emerging markets and incorporates people from diverse cultures into the franchise family the face of franchising is changing. As the decade of diversity progresses, franchising will never look quite the same way again.
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