Solidarity Franchising: spinning off organizations within territories to create sustainable jobs and meet social needs
By Ludovic Collin
"The concept of solidarity franchising represents a pragmatic solution. Following the model of commercial franchises, a successful organization spins out sister organizations to carry on its work in other regions. This is where the similarity ends, however. Based on a legally binding franchising agreement and compliance with an ethical system of references, the franchisor supports franchisees, whatever their legal status, to achieve a social purpose and not purely financial goals as followed in a commercial franchise. This model allows social businesses to quickly expand their structure and further the development of effective activities. Solidarity franchising also enables ethical and sustainable economic sectors to develop more quickly in order to effectively meet unfulfilled social needs on a systemic scale." (http://www.socialinnovationeurope.eu/node/2228)
"In 2009, Isabelle Piot decided to set up the French association “La Suite dans les Idées” to promote the concept of Solidarity Franchising at a national level. The association plays the role of an incubator for ideas and franchises thanks to the commitment of employees and volunteers who contribute experience from both the Social Economy and large companies in the private sector. It has already identified around thirty applications for Solidarity Franchising nationally. It has also been supporting the engineering and planning project to meet specific territorial needs. Some projects lead by social entrepreneurs such as “Agathe Jersey”, knitting coffees in urban areas and wool barns in rural areas to revitalise the wool knowhow in France; “Silicco project”, management of nearby bio wastes in urban areas with collective composting platforms as well as healthcare projects centres for people with disabilities.
There are only a few franchises in Europe which have similar approaches, such as Altermundi, a fair trade group of boutiques, and Le Mat Europe, a social hotel chain. Nonetheless, the concept of solidarity franchising goes further than the Social Economy. On the one hand it can be seen as a scaling-up tool for the spin-off of small ethical and social enterprises which create jobs within territories affected by the economic crisis and delocalisations. This type of Solidarity Franchising includes a legal and moral commitment of the franchisee into the creation of 1 to 5 jobs in exchange for low initial fees. On the other hand Solidarity Franchising encourages the development of enterprises with a high level of Corporate Social & Environmental Responsibility. Networking of such activities allows strengthening capacities of research & social innovation. A future National Solidarity Franchising Network will enable a common social fund in order to help franchises in difficulty." (http://www.socialinnovationeurope.eu/node/2228)