Yum Brands, the parent company of major restaurant chains like Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC, said it’s launching a program that will make it easier for women and people of color to become franchise owners.
Yum Brands’ franchise accelerator fellowship program is a partnership with historically black Howard University and the University of Louisville. The program will select 10 Black and Latino MBA students from the two universities to participate in the five-month program. At the end of the program, two of the 10 students will be selected as restaurant franchisees.
Yum Brands created the Yum Center for Global Franchise Excellence (CGFE) last May at the University of Louisville (UofL). It was established “to unlock opportunity in the franchising industry and create a level playing field for the underrepresented people of color and women.” Restaurant franchise courses and certificates are offered online at the graduate, undergraduate and non-credit level. The University of Louisville said the CGFE is “the first business program of its kind at a public university to provide existing and potential franchisees multiple levels of online education focused on the franchising model across industries.”
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The franchise accelerator fellowship program, an extension of the CGFE, launched on Jan. 3. It gives each student participant scholarships, an accelerated education about Yum’s franchising business model, and hands-on training from franchisee mentors.
“We knew there were really clear barriers for underrepresented people of color to enter franchising,” Wanda Williams, head of global franchising for Yum Brands, told Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN). “It was lack of access to capital, the inability to understand and know who the right contacts are to know to get into franchising, and the lack of franchising education. So, we had obviously tackled the third point already, but we hadn’t really tackled the other two barriers.”
To improve equity for people of color and women, the CGFE will actively recruit diverse students to programs offered through the UofL’s College of Business; conduct research to better understand the reasons for lower franchise ownership by underrepresented people of color and women; and create regular podcasts and a practitioner-focused journal to share franchising education and news with franchise owners and managers.
“Franchising is one of the best paths to entrepreneurship, creating an opportunity to build generational wealth,” Kathleen Gosser, executive in residence at the UofL College of Business, said in a press release. “Franchise ownership among underrepresented people of color and women is lower than their representation in the population. Our goal is to uncover and reduce barriers to franchise ownership, starting with education.”
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In the NRN interview, Williams said Yum Brands franchisees are “training the students so they can really understand what it takes to run a restaurant. We’re taking the students on some experiential trips so they can continue to learn everything about franchising—not only what it’s like to run a store, but answering questions like, ‘What kind of financing do you need? What are all the decisions you must think about when you’re opening your new restaurant?’”
At the end of the program, the 10 students will make their pitches about why they want to open a franchised Yum Brands restaurant. The two winners will receive seed money, additional training and mentorship, and the opportunity to become franchisees.
“A lot of folks say to us, ‘You’re going to give two winners keys to the store, but how does that ensure their success?’” Williams said. “We’ve worked really closely with some of our franchisees to build a blueprint and make sure that we’re holding hands with the students that win and set them up for success, so they are able to grow across Yum Brands.”
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