Thought Leadership at Alfanar
When Alfanar first met ShareQ’s founder in Fall 2013, he mentioned he was interested in social franchising for their catering line, MommyMade. Could this be applied to expand their social mission through franchisees across Lebanon and the region? At the time, social franchising was a topic we were exploring with one of our longest-standing investees in Egypt, Future Lights for Development Organization (FLDO). How could they replicate and scale their Montessori-style early learning centers across Egypt and the region? To answer both questions, Alfanar’s country directors in Lebanon and Egypt arranged for a virtual meeting between ShareQ and FLDO, which was followed by an in-person meeting in Lebanon. It soon because clear that information and case studies on best practices and considerations for social franchising were scarce, and more guidance was needed to proceed. We were entering new territory and pioneering new fronts!
To help investigate, Alfanar collaborated with a graduate student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Joseph Asemota. In Spring 2014, Dr. Asemota embarked on a research study reviewing existing resources and publications on social franchising. He consolidated them into a seven-stage approach to guide social entrepreneurs and inform future research. Two years later, after much revisiting and revising, we are delighted to announce his work has finally been published! “Social Franchising as an Option for Scale,” by Asemota and Chahine, is now available through VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.
What has been the impact of this work on both ShareQ and FLDO? Both have successfully completed their business plans and incorporated plans for scale. After seven years of investment, FLDO has been approved for exit from Alfanar’s portfolio; and after a successful pilot year, ShareQ has now entered our long-term investment cycle. Discussions are underway for franchising, with each organisation iterating and testing different mechanisms for expansion. We hope that our efforts at Alfanar will continue to inform their work, and that they will continue to share these lessons with other third sector organisations for sustained social impact.