Yum Brands announced Thursday that the company is expanding its educational partnership with the University of Louisville to launch a franchise accelerator fellowship program. The program, which is also in partnership with historically Black college, Howard University, selected 10 Black and Latino MBA students from both universities to participate in a five-month program, at the end of which two of the 10 students will be given the keys to a Yum Brands restaurant.
The program, which launched on Jan. 3, is an extension of the Yum Center for Global Franchise Excellence, which the Pizza Hut and Taco Bell parent company launched last May at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, specifically to target women and people of color to learn how to be a franchisee. Since the program began, 200+ students have participated in programs at the Yum Center for Global Franchise Excellence, which is the first business program of its kind to partner with a public company.
The franchise accelerator gives each participant scholarships, gives them an accelerated education of Yum’s franchising business model, and sets them up with franchisee mentors for hands-on training.
“We knew there were really clear barriers for underrepresented people of color to enter franchising,” Wanda Williams, head of global franchising for Yum Brands, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “It was lack of access to capital, the inability to understand and know who the right contacts are to know to get into franchising, and the lack of franchising education. So, we had obviously tackled the third point already, but we hadn't really tackled the other two barriers.”
Williams said that the key component of this program which really makes it stand out from other franchising education programs is the mentorship opportunity.
“[Our franchisees] are not only mentoring the students, but they’re also participating in interviews, they’re training the students so they can really understand what it takes to run a restaurant,” she added. “We're taking the students on some experiential trips, so they can continue to learn everything about franchising, not only what it's like to run a store, but answering questions like, ‘what kind of financing do you need?’ What are all the decisions you must think about when you're opening your new restaurant?’”
The end of the five-month program will culminate in a pitch competition, when all 10 students will pitch their background and why they want to open a Yum restaurant. The two winners will seed money, additional training and mentorship, and an opportunity to become a franchisee.
“A lot of folks say to us, ‘you’re going to give two winners keys to the store, but how does that ensure their success?’” Williams said. “We’ve worked really closely with some of our franchisees to build a blueprint, and make sure that we're holding hands with the students that win and set them up for success, so they are able to grow across Yum Brands.”
Williams also said that this is just the beginning, and that Yum will be exploring more educational opportunities for young would-be entrepreneurs of color in the future.
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