Social and Micro Franchising
What is it?
Microcredit has enabled thousands of the poor to start their own enterprises, but it leaves it up to the individual to come up with their own idea for a self-employment business, often producing an overabundance of similar types of low wage/low tech enterprises such as small retail stands and handcrafts. Today microcredit has moved up the "risk-averse ladder" requiring revenue track records exceeding 6 months, making it even more challenging for the poor to "jump-start" a business.
Micro-franchising is the flip side of microcredit, given that it is focused on underwriting proven business models that are sustainable and can be scaled. Marc Blumenthal, Executive Director of the SVF, initially presented his Micro Franchise model at the MIT Media Lab and at the Media Lab Asia in 2001. His model focused on market creation by creating sustainable self-employment opportunities for the poor that delivered meaningful social impact for the poor at a price the poor could afford. However, at the time, International Development Agencies were hesitant to engage in a business solution to poverty reduction, so he shelved the Micro-franchise model rollout. Recently, he was invited to present the model again in his role as Executive Director of the Social Ventures Foundation at the “Bottom of the Pyramid Summit” (BoP) in New Delhi, India in April of 2018.
At the Summit a sponsor was identified to demonstrate the Micro-franchise model. Haiti, the poorest nation in the America's and one of the most difficult places to do business in the world, was identified as the model’s proving ground, given that if it could be successful there, it could be successful anywhere. The first unmet challenge the Foundation decided to tackle utilizing its Micro-franchise model is a major health care crisis of the poor: vitamin and protein deficiency due to food insecurity.
How do you create a sustainable and scalable business at the BoP that employs the poor to deliver vitamin and protein supplementation to the poor at a price the poor can afford?
"V'ice" a shaved ice cone with a vitaminized topping formulated to meet the specific vitamin and protein deficiency needs of a developing nation.