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International Centre for Social Franchising

Author: International Centre for Social Franchising (ICSF)
Published Date: 23 April 2015

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

The International Centre for Social Franchising (ICSF) tackles the issue of scale; its mission is to help the most successful social impact projects replicate.

What is social franchising?

The essence and power of social franchising is that a proven social change project is turned into a ‘franchise’ and then quickly replicated. At its simplest, social franchising can be equated to the highly successful commercial franchising seen all over the world: Body Shop, Subway or McDonalds. The central franchise documents their processes and then franchisees adopt the approach and are given support in establishing themselves. This allows them to set up a successful business much faster, with reduced risk, whilst maintaining quality.

The critical difference with social franchising is that rather than creating profits for shareholders the aim is to create benefits to society.

The social franchising model can be successfully applied to the full spectrum of third sector organisations, from social enterprises to NGOs. The power of a social franchise is greatest when a network is established under a common brand. Rapid innovation becomes possible because of the number of semi-independent, highly motivated franchisees tackling the same issues. In some cases the shared brand has given the ability to influence policy far beyond that of an individual organisation.

Why social franchising?

Social franchising works. Not everyone can be an innovator, but there are many people willing to work hard to create social change. Just look at ICSF members for success stories.

Social franchising offers a way of scaling up successful solutions to meet a greater need over a wider geographical area. It is an appropriate scaling-up strategy when philanthropic funds and aid grants are less available and where the solution is based on an enterprise mode

Why was the International Centre for Social Franchising created?

There are numerous social organisations whose success has been evaluated and proved. Yet frustratingly, the wheel is constantly being reinvented. These organisations should be replicated in other areas and other countries or used to inspire copycat solutions. The core idea and the accumulated experience should be the starting point for designing and delivering solutions elsewhere.

What does the International Centre for Social Franchising do?

  • Consult with businesses, social and public sector pioneers
  • Curate and forward knowledge
  • Convene leaders seeking to scale up their projects

The International Centre for Social Francishing ICSF is committed to collecting social franchising information to make it easy to access. See their website for access to European and international resources including practical guides and blogs on scaling and social franchising