First Accelerator For Social Enterprises In The World Established At UCT GSB

The world’s first Social Franchising Accelerator has been established at the UCT Graduate School of Business Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship in partnership with the International Centre for SocialFranchising (ICSF), and Franchising Plus.

With funding from the Rockerfeller Foundation, the initiative is a unique academic-NGO-private sector partnership and will help meet the needs of poor and vulnerable people across the country by supporting and scaling up successful social impact organisations.

Former President Bill Clinton aptly noted “Nearly every problem has been solved by someone, somewhere. The frustration is that we can’t seem to replicate (those solutions) anywhere else”.

Social impact organisations can be NGOs or social enterprises that are successfully helping to solve social and environmental problems through their work. “Using the tools of commercial franchising, which have proven to be highly effective in growing businesses, creating local ownership and economic wealth, the idea behind the Social Franchising Accelerator is to take successful social impact organisations and create the systems and support necessary to replicate
these effectively”, says Dr Francois Bonnici, Director of the UCT GSB Bertha Centre.

Bonnici adds that social franchising is a powerful way to replicate successful projects. “Instead of reinventing the wheel and wasting scarce resources, social franchising enables successful social impact organisations to reach greater numbers of beneficiaries far more quickly than would be possible if they were to expand on a wholly owned or branched basis as it makes use of social franchisees’resources and local knowledge.”

The goal for the first year of the Social Franchising Accelerator is to work with three pilot organisations and create sustainable social franchise systems and launch pilot franchisees in three new geographical locations for each, enabling them to collectively reach at least 500 new beneficiaries within this time.

“These numbers are based on realistic projections grounded in the experience of ICSF, but we also know that the impact of social franchising can be exponential over time,” said Dr Bonnici.

Bonnici cites the Child Line India, for example, which started in Mumbai 14 years ago, and has – through a franchise system that ICSF co-founder and Bertha Centre Fellow Michael Norton helped to develop – been replicated 415 times. “It now operates in 172 cities across India and has received over 21 million calls from vulnerable children,” he said.

According to Dan Berelowitz, CEO of the International Centre for Social Franchising, the Social Franchising Accelerator has the potential to lead the way globally in terms of developing hands on expertise related to social franchising, and learning whether such support can help to scale social innovations.

“By combining the best of the private sector and social sector practice on two continents, we are well-placed to ensure that positive social impacts can be multiplied so that greater numbers of people benefit from models that already working well,” said Anita duToit,Franchise Consultant and Partner at Franchising Plus.

In addition to offering one-to-one in-depth franchising support, the Social Franchising Accelerator will also offer one-to-many training, funding and mentoring to create a comprehensive package of support to enable impact enterprises to franchise and scale up their social impact sustainably.

Learning from this programme will be captured and replicated in a practical way in other contexts and countries around the world by the ICSF. “We know that there are already a great number of social impact organisations in South Africa making a tremendous contribution and many of them are ripe for expansion, but the lack of expertise and support meant that there was nowhere to signpost them too,” said Bonnici. “We hope that the Accelerator can start to change this. Working smarter we hopeto find ways to accelerate the impact of those whose work really counts and benefit ever greater numbers of people in need,” he added.

The Bertha Centre is calling for nominations of successful and proven social impact organisations that are in a good position to be franchised to participate in the Accelerator. To nominate an organisation, please contact Khethiwe Cele on: khethiwe.cele@gsb.uct.ac.za