Richard Catherall
Nov 28, 2018 · 4 min read

TAKE SPEAK TO your city is our campaign to grow inclusive communities. Franchise partners become cofounders of local SPEAK enterprises. They help connect newcomers with locals in their city, breaking barriers, promoting multilingualism, equality and democratizing language learning.

Through the convening power of Thomas Bisballe and hosted by KPH a number of us engaged a score of more interested stakeholders in SPEAK, through our presentation on social franchising.

FRANCHISING is an agreement where the owner of a business grants the right to use that brand and sell its products and services over a period of time, within an agreed framework.

The main benefit is that this can be a cost effective and strategic way to replicate a successful business in new markets. This is what we would like to achieve with SPEAK, in 40 European cities.

There are wider benefits, of course, including,

  • Small business owners being supported with big business resources and networks.
  • Support for poeple to learning how to lead a business “on-the-job” .
  • People enjoying greater success, perhaps earlier, and perhaps with easier access to capital and other resources.

SPEAK has designed, developed and is rolling out the technology to do this as efficiently and effectively as possible. When we considered some of the costs of replicating this in new cities, we questioned whether WE should do that, or whether local entrepreneurial teams and partners, would be in a better position to do this. Where they are, there is an opportunity to franchise SPEAK’s business model AND social impact model.

One of the most powerful questions raised in our seminar, was whether this meant that a good idea developed locally, could access this cost effective development resource, and then roll out improvements across the network?

Of course the answer is YES!

In being so, this means that local entrepreneurial teams can access cost effective resources which may be unobtainable otherwise, accelerate improvements and then replicate quickly. We beleive this could transform the language we use to measure impact for example, where it is possible for an individual to invest €100,000 easily, into working out a robust way to measure their impact. Why should that be on the shoulders of a small team? There are economies of scale through this network approach.

Potential Franchise Partners sign up to Take Speak to Their City. SPEAK supports those who qualify to raise funds. SPEAK supports them to replicate the business model. SPEAK grows as a community and through this amplifies its Social Impact.

SOCIAL FRANCHISING could be the key to replicating social impact models which need to scale, and which can be supported by proven business models that also scale.

  • If you care about maximising social impact you have to at least consider social franchising.
  • Complexity kills franchises and complexity can undermine social impact.
  • Franchising could be a less complex platform for international replication.
  • This can be the difference between servicing problem and solving it.

Society faces global issues and so social entrepreneurs will consider accessing and shaping international markets. To do this, flat versus hierarchical organisation of networks can be built with franchising. Technology can be stretched to aid this and create networked communities. This enables entrepreneurs to build their business with intercultural competencies and global/local methodologies and ideologies in a mix. They can deploy this to access markets and drive mobility. In practice this is a collaborative approach, mass co-production, all about releasing local leadership.

The scale of change-making needs to change as we shift from one paradigm to a new, sustainable economic model globally. Social franchising needs to create comparative advantage for social enterprise. It could do this through reducing the cost of capital. Reducing the cost of replication. Creating the conditions to set “industry” standards and benchmarks; and so make markets work better.

Even at a basic level, change makers should consider franchising and allow this to influence their thinking.

  • How does our model actually work in practice?
  • Is our model the best way of achieving the theory of change in a new place?
  • How did we actually grow to this point, and how far is that from what we planned?
  • How vital am I, are we, to our future growth?
  • What could we teach someone else to do, to do what we did better, faster, more efficiently?
  • Would we buy our own product?
  • Would we invest in our own product?

It is the answers to questions like these that can lead to a decision to franchise your model, or even just enable you to reflect strategically and make useful changes and discoveries.

If you do choose franchising, then we have already learned some things which we can share,

  • Effective Franchising values simplicity.
  • Scale is often essential because it unlocks the amount of data which really matters.
  • Social Profit Value Creation can often be more complex than other businesses, which is why simpler ways to replicate can be useful.
  • There could be value in “productising” your theory of change so that others can benefit rather than protecting it.
  • Effective franchise models, could then simple government commissioning and funding programmes.
  • All this could accelerate local growth as well as international replication.

If you know someone that could be interested in exploring a SPEAK Franchise in their city, please encourage them to visit

Richard Catherall

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Change maker's change maker. International development professional dedicated to enterprise & entrepreneurship. Check out

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