Faith, Hope, Charity: Social franchising

BY IKE SEÑERES

I THOUGHT that I had an original idea until I found out that my idea is already happening all over the world, and as a matter of fact, it is already a global trend.

That global trend is now called social franchising. Simply put, it uses the general principles of commercial franchising, but it serves another purpose, and that purpose is called social empowerment.

It is unfortunate that the power of social networking is not yet being used to support social empowerment, but I believe that it will soon come. Right now, social networking is just being used to build and sustain social relationships, but I am starting to see signs that social media is now actually being used for advocacy and charity.

In a recent marketing conference that I attended, I learned that it is now a global trend to combine social media and conventional media. Gone are the days when advertisers could sell their products by using conventional media only, and nothing else.

What I also learned is that neither social media nor conventional media could work on its own, because now these two have to work together in order to have successful results.

One good thing about social media is that it is more engaging and it is more intelligent, so to speak. Whereas conventional media could get away with nothing but hype and image building, social media is more profound, because its audience is more discerning and is more substantive.

With the combination of these two media forms, it is now possible to have good balance or equilibrium or balance between the two.

Its seems to be that social franchising needs to have two purposive side in order for it to become real, because the absence of one side or the other would make it rather incomplete. These two sides are the production side and the marketing side.

For example, Starbucks would already qualify on the production side because they are buying coffee grains from the farmers that they are helping, but their marketing side is strictly businesslike only and there is nothing social about it.

For a social franchise to qualify on the marketing side, it is necessary to give equal opportunity for ordinary people to invest into it, by making it affordable to them.

Generally speaking this broader access could only be done through a cooperative, but it is also possible for independent small business owners (SBOs) to own social franchises on their own, more so if they are part of the advocacy that is being supported by the socially oriented franchising group. SBOs as I would now prefer to call them, is the same as small and medium enterprises (SMEs), except that the new term is more people oriented.

To cite another example, I am now promoting AeroNox as a social franchise. To begin with, the product was born with a social purpose, because it cleans the air as it converts air pollution into new energy.

As it does that, it also increases the fuel mileage of vehicles, thus reducing the need for fossil fuels. With the production side being confirmed as having a social purpose, the only challenge now is how to give a social purpose to the marketing side.

Fortunately, the manufacturer of AeroNox has already agreed to give priority to cooperatives and SBOs in the selection of franchisees. This will give those with smaller capital investments to have a more profitable source of income. Since cooperatives are open to everyone, the additional income could now possibly liberate more people from poverty.

Air pollution is a problem that seems to have no solution, as more cars are being sold that would just add to the volume of carbon emissions here and everywhere. The government has done its part by passing the necessary anti-pollution laws, but what is needed really is the activation of market forces that would support the compliance of everyone with these laws.

As I studied the challenge of achieving self-sufficiency in rice production in connection with our national food security, I realized that the key to success is really the availability of affordable energy that could power the irrigation pumps. It could be said that the problem in rice production is the lack of irrigation, but that is not really the problem because there is no shortage of water that could irrigate our farms.

It is ironic that even with our unlimited supply of fresh water everywhere, only about 30% of our farms are irrigated. For some reason, the government has not gotten out of the mindset of digging canals for irrigation, when in fact; plastic pipes are now so cheap and are so widely available. Even if electric power is not so cheap, AeroNox could now be used to lower the energy costs.

The Sandiwaan Learning Center in Smokey Mountain is now a model for the Alternative Learning School (ALS) system in the Philippines, as declared by the Department of Education (DEPED).

Founded by Fr. Ben Beltran, it has become a pioneer in the gamification of education, a new approach that has been proven to be very effective among young learners. Education Secretary Armin Luistro has given Fr. Beltran the challenge to educate an initial batch of about one million out- of-school youth (OSY).

As I discussed with Fr. Beltran, the best way of doing that would be to replicate Sandiwaan nationwide, by way of social franchising.

Aside from cooperatives and SBOs, it would be good if some concerned non-government organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) would also get involved in social franchising, because it is right down their alley. In the case of Sandiwaan for example, NGOs and CSOs could apply for, and become the local franchisees.

Aside from ALS centers, there are many social services that could be popularized by way of social franchising. That could include senior citizens homes, orphanages, and even medical facilities like dialysis centers. (Email bantaygobyerno- [email protected] or text +639083159262)/PN