THE FUTURE OF THE IFA FOUNDATION
By Rikki Amos, IFA Foundation
How we use education and research to make an impact on the franchise community.
During one of the last times we were all together in person — the IFA 2020 Convention — the IFA Foundation talked from the stage about how there is so much more we can do together. Little did we know then how that call to action would be more than an aspiration. It would be a necessity.
As we all know, it’s been a year like no other. We have been challenged and many of our businesses have been battered. But, we have also been more resilient, innovative and determined than ever before — as only entrepreneurs can be. We will not just react to our circumstances but shape them… together.
As part of this once-in-a-century journey, the IFA Foundation has leaned into our mission to amplify the best of what is, and what will be, in franchising through our education, research and community collaboration. Now more than ever this mission is critical. We must and we will continue our work to educate the public, potential entrepreneurs and key constituencies about the franchise business model and its positive impact on communities across the country and around the world.
Through Franchising Gives Back, for instance, the IFA Foundation serves as the sector’s critical storyteller to educate decision-makers on just how much franchised businesses contribute to their local communities every day. We tell the compelling stories of millions of dollars donated and countless hours volunteered to help our neighbors through pandemic-weary times.
As so many of us are aware, 2020 brought not just challenges from a pandemic. We also experienced social unrest following the killing of George Floyd, among others. This has sparked national conversations about race relations, bias and – in our case — the role businesses play in engaging in diversity issues.
Did you know that 30 percent of franchises are owned by minorities compared to 18 percent of non-franchised businesses? Because of this, Diversity Institute is leaning into, not away from, critical conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion in franchising and has launched multiple, new initiatives to drive member engagement around it. Most notably, in celebration of Black History Month, we launched the Black Franchise Leadership Council. Following the Franchising Pride Council which was launched in 2019, the Black Franchise Leadership Council is our second affinity group whose purpose will be to foster awareness, understanding and access to franchise opportunities and to educate and stimulate discussion related to the experiences of black entrepreneurs in franchising. In addition to this important work, we continue to educate hundreds of potential entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds about the franchising business model, accessing capital and finding success through franchising.
At our current pace, we are on track to engage thousands, not just hundreds, in our mission to advance diversity in franchising.
Did you know that although veterans make up only about 7 percent of the population, they account for a whopping 14 percent of all franchisees in America? Our mission in VetFran is simple — keep growing these numbers because franchising is good for veterans and veterans are good for franchising. This is especially true in times of economic recovery when you need leaders with grit, fortitude and discipline.
The IFA 2021 Virtual Convention marked the beginning of VetFran’s 30th anniversary. For 30 years, we’ve been educating veterans about franchising and connecting them directly with qualified franchise systems. Despite the significant challenges of this pandemic, VetFran is still connecting with an average of 5,000 opportunity seeking veterans per month.
The mission of the Institute of Certified Franchise Executives (ICFE) is simple but vital for ensuring the future success of franchising. We certify and educate individuals and organizations to the highest standards. And that mission has never been more important than now.
As franchising faces any number of challenges in the coming years to re-build and navigate changes to business and regulatory realities, some of the most important things each franchise needs are leaders who exemplify franchising excellence.
In addition to certifying hundreds of franchise professionals every year, in coming weeks the ICFE will be launching a new series of master classes that will greatly enhance the CFE’s learning journey.
Amplifying Franchising’s Story
It takes a village to spread the good news story that is franchising and to provide the vital education and outreach needed to ensure a true understanding of what franchising is all about.
In addition to our volunteer leaders, boards and CFEs, we’d like to also say thank you to our donors and staff. Without each and every one of you, none of us would be here today talking about how we’re educating more veterans, diverse communities, franchising professionals and key stakeholders about the positive impact of the franchise business model than ever before.
As we look to the future, we leave everyone with this call to action. History proves that franchising is a powerful force in economic recovery. Now more than ever, it is vital that the IFA Foundation continue its work to educate community leaders, decision-makers and current and future franchise professionals about the positive impact of franchising. There is so much more we can do together, and we encourage each of you to think about how you can get involved and spread our good news story at a time when people really need to hear it.
Rikki Amos is the executive director of the IFA Foundation. For more information about the IFA Foundation, visit franchisefoundation.org.