The International Franchise Association announced plans for a new initiative to help IFA member companies recruit more minority franchisees into their systems.

Called “MinorityFran” the initiative is designed to provide one, convenient point where minority prospects can explore franchise offerings of companies actively looking to recruit minority franchisees. The initiative will build on relationships forged with leading organizations through the IFA’s Diversity Institute, such as the National Urban League, Association of Small Business Development Centers, U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, and the Minority Business Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. MinorityFran will serve as the flagship program promoted jointly by the IFA, these and other organizations, to be highlighted at events, in communications and through other targeted efforts.

“MinorityFran is designed to assist IFA-member companies that are committed to expanding opportunities for minorities in franchising at all levels: in employment, in franchise recruitment, and vendor relations,” said IFA Diversity Institute Chairman Ronald Harrison. “By working with our partner organizations across the country, we hope to not only increase the numbers of minority franchisees, but to send the message to all communities that franchising is a smart and affordable way to realize the American Dream of small business ownership.”

Minorities, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans, are expected to account for the major share of new population growth in the U.S. in coming years. Minorities already represent $1.8 trillion in consumer purchasing power according to a 2004 Selig Center study, a number that is expected to increase. In addition, minority-owned businesses are growing at a rate seven times greater than all U.S. businesses according to a 2004 report of the Minority Business Development Agency. “It is imperative that franchised companies make a concerted effort to reach out to this growing segment of the population now to remain competitive in the marketplace,” continued Harrison.

“MinorityFran is first and foremost an awareness building campaign,” stressed IFA Educational Foundation Director of Diversity and Emerging Markets, Sonya Brathwaite. “There are many diverse communities that have not participated in franchising at the levels available. This initiative seeks to encourage more minority franchise prospects to consider franchising while giving franchise companies the tools and contacts to more effectively reach out to these communities as well.”

Participating companies may offer incentives ranging from a reduction in franchise fee, special financing terms or other special assistance, although there is no requirement to do so. For companies that choose to offer an incentive, MinorityFran will offer two options. They can either establish a “race-based” program (open to ethnic minorities) or a “place-based” program open to all prospective franchisees, regardless of race, who locate their units in traditionally under-served communities, such as Enterprise Zones or Historically Underutilized Business Zones.

“Over the years, the IFA has worked with numerous cities and community development organizations around the country,” said Terrian Barnes, director, global diversity at Yum! Brands and chairwoman of IFA’s Minorities in Franchising Committee. “Time and again, we have heard the need for name-brand goods and services to be represented in under-served communities. Minority Fran will encourage all prospective franchisees to consider locating in these communities.”

“Minority-Fran will provide a platform for IFA members to put the franchising model to work in these emerging markets. Franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers have a great opportunity to open up new businesses, create more jobs, and win more customers in these markets. Companies that focus on these markets can not only succeed but they will become the leading brands in these new markets,” said Steve Greenbaum, CFE, chairman, IFA Educational Foundation, CEO, PostNet International Franchise Corp.