Putting the “I” in International Franchising


Education is playing a vital role in putting the “I” in international franchising and it’s just the beginning!

By Lawrence "Doc" Cohen, CFE

Franchising is growing in all directions and all sorts of ways around the world. From young entrepreneurs using the business format franchise model to launch new concepts, to non-profit organizations adapting the franchise model to address social needs in developing countries, to universities introducing courses about franchising.  

We see this growth and interest in franchising taking many forms at the IFA Franchise Education and Research Foundation. Our new name is another sign that times are changing. Our board of trustees wanted to give the foundation a new name with a greater focus on our two most important objectives — education and research.

Over at the Institute of Certified Franchise Executives, we see this growth taking place in the increasing number of “international” CFEs. At the CFE graduation during the IFA Annual Convention in San Antonio this past February, 26 of the 167 graduates were from outside the U.S. — that’s one in six executives! 

These CFE graduates are senior executives working in franchise systems in Australia, the Philippines, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Canada, Indonesia, Thailand and Mexico.

Cooperative programs growing

As franchising expands across the globe, ICFE has established cooperative agreements with a number of franchise associations including the Franchise Council of Australia, the Philippines Franchise Association, the Franchising & Licensing Association (Singapore), the Indonesian Franchise Association and the Franchising Association of India. 

Two of our most active cooperative programs are with Australia, where 16 executives have completed the CFE program, and the Philippines, which proudly claims 75 franchise executives have earned their CFE designation. The Philippines Franchise Association was the first association to develop a joint program with the ICFE, which launched in 2002.  

“We are delighted to see so many CEOs, founders and executives of successful Australian franchise brands reaching the professional milestone of CFE accreditation in the past two years,” said Franchise Council of Australia Chairman Michael Paul. 

In the near future, ICFE will be completing agreements with the Brazilian Franchise Association and the Argentina Franchise Association. We are working on programs to be co-hosted this fall by the ICFE with ABF, AFA and universities in Brazil and Argentina. These associations have worked cooperatively with several universities that offer executive MBA programs in their countries and there is a growing interest to include franchising in the course of study.

One result of cooperation between IFA and other associations has been a growing interest in exchange programs. For the past three years, the Franchise Council of Australia and IFA have organized study tour groups to visit franchise operations in the U.S. and Australia.

To further promote interest in development in the U.S. by franchisors and multi-unit franchisees from other countries, ICFE offered a CFE Special Session at this year’s convention in San Antonio — “Coming to America” — facilitated by Carl Zwisler, CFE, principal at Gray Plant Moody. The session was specifically designed for executives interested in learning about entering the U.S. market and was overwhelmingly well-received by attendees. The session received the highest evaluations of the sessions offered in San Antonio. Plans are being explored to offer more international development sessions through a WebEx platform.

Young entrepreneurs attracted

One of the most exciting developments in recent years is the explosion of interest in franchising by young entrepreneurs around the world. Tapping into this excitement, NextGen In Franchising, under the leadership of David McKinnon, CFE, founder of ServiceBrands International, and senior advisor to the Dwyer Group Board of Directors, conducted the second annual NextGen Global Contest this past year.  

The contest invited young entrepreneurs, ages 18 to 35, with franchise businesses to submit their concepts and business plans for a chance to win a trip to the IFA Annual Convention, participate in a specially designed business accelerator program, and win additional cash prizes during the “Fran-Shark” competition.  

More than 250 entries were received from around the world, with the top 20 winners selected by a panel of judges to participate in the NextGen In Franchising Summit at the Annual Convention in San Antonio. Thirteen of the global winners were from countries outside the U.S., and the top three winners in the Fran-Shark competition were from Canada, Australia, and Haiti.  

“There is no greater evidence of the success and appeal of the franchise business model than to see young people from around the world embracing it with the excitement, enthusiasm and professionalism of our NextGen winners,” said McKinnon. “Being in a room with them is contagious!”  

The top three winners in the competition are as follows. First Place Award: Carmelo Marsala, Spray-Net (Canada); Second Place Awards: Jai Hobbs, Paleo Café (Australia), and Katleen Jeanty, Madan Belfwi Fruit Mixes (Haiti). Victor Mhango was awarded a cash prize and honorable mention for a social enterprise franchise, Ziweto Agrovet Shops (Malawi).

The other global winners include: Joseph Calata, Calata Corp., Philippines; Jacob Foster, FCF Fire & Electrical, Australia; Alfonso  Hernandez, Black Bear Tea,  Mexico; Michael Iyanro, Ignite Health Services, Nigeria; Irwan Malhotra, Gavaksh “Window to Happiness,” India; Elizabeta Planinic, Guardian of Memories, Croatia; Guillermo Quintana, Proemprende, Peru; Vivien Varga, Stilianos baby swimming franchise, Hungary; and Hans Clifford Yao, The Paper Stone, Philippines.

Franchising addresses social needs

Another exciting development in franchising is its adaptation to combine private enterprise with social enterprise to address social needs from clean drinking water to more affordable and accessible energy to higher quality, lower cost health services in developing countries. IFA’s Social Sector Franchising Task Force, chaired by Michael Seid, CFE, managing director, MSA Worldwide, is working with IFA members, international organizations, NGOs, and universities keenly interested in learning more about how to deploy the franchise business model to help these social enterprise businesses reach scalability and sustainability. 

It is one of the biggest and best challenges that lie ahead for the franchising community and one that when successful will transform the lives of millions of people around the world, creating opportunities for business ownership, jobs, and better communities. What could be more exciting?  

Education is playing a vital role in putting the “I” in international franchising and it’s just the beginning! 

Lawrence “Doc” Cohen, CFE, is president of Doc & Associates. He is a member of the IFA Board of Directors and Chairman of the Franchise Research & Education Foundation. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.

To learn more about the Certified Franchise Executive program visit  www.franchise.org/cfe-home

Watch for updates about the Third Annual NextGen In Franchising Global Contest this summer at www.nextgeninfrachising.org

Get involved in IFA’s Social Sector Task Force and become a mentor. To learn more visit www.socialsectorfranchising.org