The question most often posed about social enterprise in this Global Entrepreneurship Week (#gew) has been: how do we grow this movement, and how do we scale organisations + models that work? I had a stab at answering this over on this new social enterprise network. Here's an excerpt:
So, who has the answer? Domino's Pizza. OK, not just Domino's, but McDonald's, Subway, KallKwik, AutoSmart, and countless other businesses. Why? Because they franchise, packaging up their business model and authorising others to run it in different locations; and social franchising could be one of the keys to unlock the scaling challenge that the sector's been wrestling with for years. For inside that challenge lie several tough questions:
- How do you scale impact without scaling the organisation in a traditional, hierarchical way? (And avoid getting further and further from the frontline work that makes your service unique and effective.)
- How do you avoid reinventing the wheel by replicating proven models?
- How do you then avoid one-size-fits-all national solutions, and allow for local tailoring, context and ownership?
- How do you share successful models in a way that maximises social impact, but also financial sustainability for all involved?
- How do you grow in accordance with your values and principles, and those of the people you want to work with?
Social franchising is not necessarily the quickest, easiest way to scale, but it does represent an approach that can provide answers to these questions. Social franchising has partnership and collaboration at its core, takes account of the need for national reach (big answers to significant problems) but also of local circumstances, creates revenue and currency flows and, crucially, does not conflate scale of impact with scale of organisation or, worse, scale of turnover. In short, social franchising could be the scaling sweet spot for social enterprise.