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A World Of Difference

A microfranchise program seeks to reduce poverty in underdeveloped countries.
December 1, 2000
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/34742

Working to bring the franchising model to underdeveloped countries, Microfranchise Development Corp.'s new program will allow entrepreneurs to make a difference with their businesses in ways that go beyond their pocketbooks. Developed in cooperation with the Organization of American States: Trust for the Americas, the Micro-franchise Education and Loan (MEL) Program will operate from MEL Business Centers. The idea: Take existing products and services and bundle them as stand-alone microfranchises that serve as easily managed business opportunities for citizens of poverty-stricken countries.

"Often [these] people aren't trained to be self-employed and have no cutting-edge ideas for business available to them," says program creator Marc Blumenthal. "I believe franchising can offer them a sustained approach to employment that will have an impact on [their communities]."

Microfranchise Development will identify microfranchises that relate to one of five areas reflecting the most pressing needs of the communities: technology, environment, agriculture, health and cultural preservation. Local entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to go into business for themselves, while earning profit from businesses that benefit the culture as a whole. While the program will target poor youth and school dropouts aged 16 to 25, Micro-franchise Development plans to deploy MEL Business Centers in association with high schools in developing countries to serve not only as training facilities, B2B revenue centers and virtual offices for the franchisees, but also as locations for evening adult education programs.

Microfranchise Development is set to start in early 2001 and is currently seeking entrepreneurial companies with products or services that can be adapted to fit the microfranchise system.

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