By Rebecca Patt, SVP Development, Wray Executive Search
The Black Franchise Leadership Council (BFLC), part of the International Franchise Association, aims to increase access to franchise business opportunities for Black entrepreneurs in multi-faceted ways. Richard Snow is Chair of the new organization.
What led to the creation of the Black Franchise Leadership Council?
The Black Franchise Leadership Council came out of a lack of representation within the franchising space for minorities who make up less than 25% of the industry and especially the lack of representation for Black entrepreneurs in the space, who make up 8% of the franchise industry. We saw that to be a significant gap in the franchising industry and a gap within the generational wealth for Black entrepreneurs and small business owners.
We see the BFLC as an opportunity to promote awareness, understanding, and access to franchise opportunities for Black entrepreneurs. We understand that the franchising industry is so much more than just food or quick-service restaurants. You can match your passion with different opportunities to create your own independent wealth and be a part of a franchise program with a system that will help you scale and be more productive and more profitable faster.
We also wanted to create and maintain an organizational culture that values inclusion, diversity, and creativity within the International Franchise Association (IFA). We want to educate our franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers on the importance of diversity and equity and how it permeates every part of an organization. If you are going to create strategic growth plans within your organization, you need to have diversity, equity, and inclusion plan as part of that, as the landscape of our country and our world begins to change and become more diverse. We want to continue to offer those opportunities for dialogue on diversity. This is some of the motivation that led to the creation of the BFLC.
What are a few main goals and initiatives that you are focused on?
We are dedicated to the awareness, education, and creating quantifiable results by ensuring that we are finding the proper way to transition minority entrepreneurs, or potential entrepreneurs, into franchisees. We are preparing to put together cohorts and accelerator programs. After the individual receives the training from the accelerator programs, financial institutions will vet them, and we are going to obtain partnerships with multiple brands to matriculate those individuals into franchise ownership. We want to have a numeric value showing the number of Black entrepreneurs we create each quarter, year over year. We want to make sure that we are impacting that bottom line.
BFLC understands that we are not the only organization with initiatives around Black entrepreneurship, and we believe all these organizations play a key role in cooperation and partnership with these franchise organizations. It is a great lift, and you cannot lift it all by yourself. Creating partnerships with external stakeholders is a part of this process, and continuing to advocate for change will not get done in a year, two, or three years. This mission needs to be a lifelong organizational journey.
How did you get involved in the BFLC?
Currently, I am the VP for the SBA National Franchise program at WSFS Bank. I am on the supplier side, where I support franchisors and support financing for future franchisees. We are nationwide in providing debt financing, and we typically do that through the SBA 7 (a) program to support future franchisees and existing franchisees with acquisitions, mergers, and multi-unit resales.
The capital component is extremely important to me because often, that is the bridge of the divide. Understanding how to access capital is crucial to creating that next franchisee or preparing them for the journey. Financing led me to the world of franchising, and I became a part of the IFA through the Diversity Institute. I also serve on the Diversity Institute Board. At the beginning of this year, we created the idea of forming the Black Franchise Leadership Council, which I chair to work more on that initiative.
Under the Diversity Institute, we also have the Pride Council, which deals with the LGBTQ component of diversity and supporting LGBTQ members as franchisees where they can speak and have a voice and identify with who they are, be free in who they are, and understand that we all have a voice within the franchise space. We are also preparing for a Latino Council, where Latino entrepreneurs can also have a voice. We understand that there are multiple unique voices, and you must give each its dedicated platform and community. It is this beautiful cross-cultural experience developing under the Diversity Institute. We allow everybody to express their voice fully, who they are, and what that brings to franchising.
What has been the most interesting or surprising thing that you have experienced since starting this endeavor?
What surprised me the most was the outpouring of support from every industry level and multiple government levels. People want this mantle to be taken up and this initiative to be pushed forward. It is a labor of love. It fills me up. Even as I talk to you now, I get the chills about it. It is an emotional thing when you can know that you change the dynamic of somebody’s family or life through entrepreneurship, and then they can provide for their community and support their community to grow and develop all their skill sets.
The major pillars and areas where we can never have enough support are access to capital, education, marketing, advocacy and outreach, and community partnership. We know all these pillars must be effectively built and strategically planned out, and if you do not work towards all those goals, the whole house falls. You cannot have access to funding without franchisor partners willing to bring that person on as a franchisee once they receive funds. You cannot change public opinion or government opinion if you do not have advocacy and outreach. You know you cannot have education and learning if individuals do not partner to teach the courses. It would be best to have all this together to attain the one common goal: to increase engagement and increase the number of minority franchisees.
Where should people go to find out more and how they can get involved?
You can go to franchise.org, and there’s also the Black Franchise Leadership Council page on LinkedIn. We’re accessible; feel free to reach out and let us know you want to be a part of it, and I or any member of the Black franchise Leadership Council will be more than willing to support you and welcome you with open arms to our community and our village.
What else would you like all people to know that we haven’t covered?
Stay tuned for major announcements and more events coming in 2022 as we prepare for the IFA conference in February of 2022. We will release exceptional programs that will aim to create multiple Black entrepreneurs consistently.
Need help recruiting top executive talent for your leadership team? Contact Rebecca Patt at firstname.lastname@example.org.