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Social Enterprise Development

Franchising Opportunities for Social Enterprise (FOSE)

A pilot project of Vancity & Vancity Community Foundation
Are you a franchisor?

We are actively seeking franchisors interested in engaging with non-profit organizations to launch successful social enterprise franchises in Lower Mainland BC. Partnerships between socially conscious franchisors and non-profit organizations have proven to be successful and provide a host of benefits. More information is available to franchisors, here.

In this project, Franchising Opportunities For Social Enterprise, Vancity and Vancity Community Foundation (VCF) are working together to develop and carryout a multi-phase plan to explore franchising as one potential option/path for non-profits seeking to launch a social enterprise.

Together we have provided strategic support and investment to organizations for planning or launch of enterprise from scratch. We are now exploring further alternative business development paths, such as franchising or business acquisition, for non-profit social enterprise that may facilitate improved success and viability of social enterprises and reduce risk to the organizations and funders.

Contact Us

Contact us at for more information.


Learn more: Work with us to launch a Franchise | Why Franchising? | Successful Franchising with a Social Twist! | Why Do Franchisors Partner With Non-Profits?

Work with us to Launch a Franchise!

The project will be delivered in three phases:
  • Phase 1 - "Research" | September - December 2015
    In the first phase of the project we carried out research to identify the most suitable franchise opportunities that have strong potential to achieve community impact and operate effectively as a social enterprise. Download the Preliminary Report.

  • Phase 2 - "Engagement & Evaluation" | January to April 2016
    We are now in the second phase of the project actively engaging non-profits and franchisors. Five non-profits and five franchisors will be selected & evaluated using the frameworks developed in Phase 1 and best "matches" will be determined.

  • Phase 3 - "Implementation" | May to September 2016
    Two potential social enterprise franchise deals involving 2 Surrey based non-profit organizations and 2 franchisors will be identified and developed with navigation support provided through Vancity. Our objective is to launch two social enterprise franchises in Surrey in the fourth quarter of 2016.
There are a number of benefits to partnering with us on this project:
  • Deal Navigation. We're here to help and to learn together. Both non-profits and franchisors will benefit from considerable support in the form of "deal navigation". The project advisor will facilitate conversations, support the due diligence process, identify required resources and generally assist the parties as required to help them successfully reach an agreement.

  • Prescreening & Evaluation. A considerable amount of time has already been spent determining the most promising franchise concepts with opportunities available in Surrey. The project will undertake a careful pre-evaluation of both the Franchisors and potential Franchisees. The objective of this "pre-work" is to determine the readiness of the non-profit for business and the readiness/will of the Franchisor for taking on a social enterprise model. Both the franchisor and the non-profit will be evaluated for strategic leadership, change management, stability, and financial acumen as well as their ability to foster collaborative relationships.

  • Research. Non-profits & Franchisors will both benefit from the project research. We have a solid understanding of the potential risks and benefits of this approach and the project is informed by interviews with franchisors, franchise lawyers, and a non-profit organization which owns and operates a local social enterprise franchise.

  • Support & Financing. Finally, the non-profits engaged in this project will be considered for the current programs, financial tools, and resources available through Vancity and Vancity Community Foundation for non-profits planning & developing social enterprises such as grants and loans. Non-profits that pursue a franchise as part of this pilot will be expected to qualify for financing on standard terms.
Why Franchising?

By its very nature, franchising mitigates many of the common risks incurred by a non-profit organization looking to start a new business such as an untested product, unknown brand, and unproven business system.

Franchisor Value to Non-Profits
Proven Business Concept
Established Brand Defined Operations Well-defined Cost Structure Operations Support
  Market-tested product or service

Secures buy-in among stakeholders
  Allows npo to compete immediately

Attracts customers immediately

Lends credibility to social enterprise
  Delivers proven processess

Allows focus on execution

Provides guidelines for all opeartional issues
  Allows for more accurate financial projections

Helps npo secure start-up capital
  Start -up training National/regional advertising

Continual management support

Bulk purchasing access

Successful Franchising with a Social Twist!

Check out what these social enterprise franchises are doing:

Aim Mail Centre
(Lakewood, Washington State)

Blenz Coffee at HOpe Centre
(Vancouver, BC)

(Weslaco, Texas)

The Aim Mail Centre is owned and operated by Centre Force, a non-profit organization in Washington with a mission to promote self-sufficiency, inclusion and quality of life for individuals and families of all abilities through education, employment, and community living.   This retail service provides high quality shipping and postal services while employing five (5) Centerforce clients. It also serves as an assessment facility for clients going through the intake process.

Learn More:
Aim Mail Centre Lakewood
The Canadian Mental Health Association North and West Vancouver Branch, and Vancouver Coastal Health successfully opened the Blenz Coffee social enterprise café in the HOpe Centre in December of 2014, providing ongoing employment for people with lived experience with mental illness. They chose to pursue a franchise concept over developing a business from scratch because they wanted access to a proven system, brand, and training. In return, Blenz was able to secure a high profile location in a brand new facility and there has been a sense of pride among franchisees for the good work that Blenz is doing there. The Café is only 1 year into operation and is on track to meet its financial and social outcomes.

Learn more:
In 2012, Affordable Homes of South Texas (AHSTI) was faced with a shortage of funds to build enough homes to meet the needs of low-income Texan families. With the intention of creating a new revenue stream the AHSTI board decided to build a Blimpie restaurant  to establish a constant flow of cash for the organization.  The Franchisor overcame its initial skepticism about the non-profit once they understood it was a large organization with a budget of over $70M USD and more than 45 employees including IT, marketing, accounting, and even maintenance professionals. And furthermore, that their board is comprised of business and accounting professionals. AHSTI now reinvests the profits of their franchise into the mission of AHSTI and is considering additional locations.

Learn More:
Sandwich Heroes (Article)

Why Do Franchisors Partner With Non-Profits?

Non-profits may be able to bring the following benefits to a franchise:
  • Access to non-traditional real-estate. Social enterprise franchises may provide an opening into a retail space not traditionally available to a franchisor, such as a hospital or rec-centre lobby.

  • Strong community relationships & reputation. Non-profit networks/ partnerships can deliver public relations and marketing benefits for the venture & franchisor during the launch & marketing of the non-profit franchise.

  • Access to loyal & trained workforce. Employment social enterprises attached to an organization which provides training can reduce its recruitment costs by hiring its clients. Training programs can be tailored to the franchise so that the franchise unit would not incur training costs directly.

  • Existing accounting & development/ marketing departments. Robust non-profits have existing infrastructure that can be leveraged to market & operate the franchise.

  • Affiliate network of organizations. For national non-profit organizations, a success with one franchise could be scalable across the country, reducing the time needed to recruit new franchisees while allowing the company to reap the benefits of partnering with a non-profit organization in multiple markets.

  • Access to non-traditional financial markets. Endowments, grants, and patient capital through non-profit programs that can significantly reduce the organization's risk in acquiring and capitalizing a franchise unit.

  • The "halo" effect. Partnering with a non-profit organization has repeatedly been proven to improve employee retention, increase customer goodwill, and visibly enhance the venture's brand. Franchisors may use this to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Source: adapted from Community Wealth Ventures

In this project, Franchising Opportunities For Social Enterprise, Vancity and Vancity Community Foundation (VCF) are working together to develop and carryout a multi-phase plan to explore franchising as one potential option/path for non-profits seeking to launch a social enterprise.

Contact Us

Contact us at for more information.