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Suzanne Stormon's Explorations of Creative Alternatives

Archive for the category “World Community”

What Is Social Franchising And Why Is It Important?

Rather than starting with a technical definition, you can probably get a feel of what a social franchise is by looking at a few names of social franchise enterprises: Seniors Helping Seniors (U.S), Barka Foundation for Mutual Help (Poland), Co-Wheels Car Club (U.K)., Unjani Clinics (South Africa). These social franchises are increasingly addressing social and environmental problems throughout the world.

I recently came across an article in the Harvard Business Review which featured Education for Employment (EFE), a collection of training franchises that operates in many countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA). The article describes the model of social franchising used by the company and discusses why this business model works in times of uncertainty.

I define alternative business models as those which focus on meeting the needs of the people who work in them and who are served by them. Although there is a huge variety of social franchises, most of these fall within the above definition. We are used to charities and foundations that rely on grants using many of the scaling practices of franchising, but the idea of social franchising usually focuses on social enterprises and social cooperatives.

EFE is an international non-profit organization whose goal is to provide education for employment in the MENA region; where there is an average 25% unemployment rate for young people. The international EFE provides the materials, resources and some of the financial backing that help local educators set up training centers. These centers serve recent college graduates, underserved youth and women in many countries in the region. These local organizations provide job placement assistance, teach students job search skills, and/or help students create their own businesses.

In many Middle Eastern and North African countries, governmental run programs in employment education are non-existent or have been disrupted by political unrest. EFE centers have been able to stay open during uncertain times and are successful using scaling methods common to many franchises. I will be examining EFE in further blog articles, but for today I will focus on the definition of social franchising.

It is difficult to explain social franchising because it varies so much between different organizations. Sometimes the franchises are for-profit companies, sometimes non-profit, often they are similar to what we know as B-corporations. Social franchising differs from many other types of franchising in that it specifically focuses on the needs, cultures and particular characteristics of the locality of the franchise.

The European Social Franchising Network describes the six qualities they argue must be present for an organization to be considered a social franchise. These qualities are:

  • A social franchisor – the independent organization that replicates its social enterprise model
  • At least one social franchisee that has been established by the franchisor
  • A common brand under which the franchisees operate
  • Sharing of knowledge among the members
  • A plan for how the businesses will be sustained and the reciprocal rights and obligations between the parties.
  • Both the franchisor and the franchisees must be social enterprises and share the same values

In the next couple of articles, we’ll be looking at some exciting social franchises that are addressing social problems and social needs all over the world.

What are some of the social programs and organizations that you think would benefit people if they could be replicated in different parts of the U.S. or the world? How do you think they could operate and who would they benefit? Leave your comments. Let’s discuss this.

Lives’ of Cambodian Girls

After receiving some questions on the lives of the girls in my last post, I’ve done some research and find that thousands of girls in Cambodia are one step away from a life none of us would want for ourselves or our children.  Many of them already have taken that step. Cambodia is an extremely poor country that was devastated by the deindustrialization, back-to-the-country movement forced on Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge. The new government is trying to rebuild but they have a long way to go. Girls, who have never been highly valued in the country, pay a heavy price for the joint condition of being poor and female.

My last post talked about keeping 28 girls in school.  Drops in the bucket, but each one of these girls represent the condition of many of the girls in the country.  They are victims of abuse or are rescued sex workers.  Over 30% of the people in the large sex industry in Cambodia are under 18 and the vast majority of them are girls.  Most of these girls have been kept out of school by their parent’s poverty and isolation.  The Cambodian government “guarantees” public school through secondary education (9th grade), but the system is decentralized so poor rural schools are inadequate.  Teachers are often paid only $10.00 per month, so they often start their own tutoring service or work in private schools. If the best education is for pay, in poor areas, it is the boys who go to these schoolsGirls are kept home to work in the fields or find a job to help support the family.  Many families are tricked into sending their daughters off for “good jobs” when their real destination is sexual slavery.

Rape is often the entry-level crime that leads the victims into the sex industry.  In Cambodia, a girl’s virginity is highly valued. Rape brings shame and stigma to a girl, making it more likely that parents will send the girl away or consent to their child leaving home for one of these “good jobs”.  Once out of school and the family’s sight, the terrible exploitation begins.

Non-profits and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are aware of these conditions and are attempting to enhance the life chances of girls in this society. The Cambodian Center for Children’s Rights, which was featured in last week’s post, runs several shelters and schools. There, girls who have been exploited are identified and rescued, are rehabilitated through academic and life skills training, and are reintegrated back into society with the hope of a better life.

Here are some links for more information:




MaiLynn’s Project – Keep 28 Young Cambodian Girls in School

As many of you know, my daughter, MaiLynn, has been traveling the world.  She lives in New Zealand now, but I think her heart is still in Southeast Asia.  I got this email from her asking that I get the news out on this important project.  This gives me the impetus to post my first blog.  I’ll let her tell you in her own words, but first a few pictures of these beautiful girls.

“I’ve started volunteer work with The Branch Foundation, the community developement and support organization I was telling you about in Southeast Asia.  We have a big project campaign out to help keep 28 young Cambodia girls in School – its featured on the Global Giving website which is a fantastic and really meaningful project. It is really close to my heart given my many visits to Cambodia and my absolute love for the spunk and courage of the girls there.  Take a look at the link – I think you’ll find it very interesting……   The Global Giving site has generously put on a “matched giving day” on this Wednesday 14 March, in which they will match all individual donations received by 30% – so it’s a sweet day to give money on. ”


Of course, you can donate any day. They’ll use the money well.

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