UofL, Yum! Brands and Howard University have launched the Yum! Franchise Accelerator, a one-of-a-kind MBA elective opportunity supporting underrepresented people of color and women interested in the franchise restaurant industry.
Ten second-year MBA students from the two universities were selected to participate in the intensive five-month fellowship where two participants will have the opportunity to become future franchisees of Yum! Brands, the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill. The debut of the Yum! Franchise Accelerator follows last year’s launch of the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, within UofL’s College of Business.
“Yum! Brands is proud to work with both the University of Louisville and Howard University on this groundbreaking partnership to train and advance underrepresented people of color and women entrepreneurs interested in building a career in the franchise restaurant industry,” said Scott Catlett, chief legal and franchise officer of Yum! Brands. “The fellowship is a win-win as the students will receive educational experiences, mentoring and hands-on training unlike any other, while Yum! has the opportunity to welcome two talented business leaders and aspiring, diverse franchisees to our U.S. system.”
The participants – six MBA students from Howard University and four from UofL – receive scholarships and extensive education on the franchise business model through the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence’s franchising curriculum, along with one-of-a-kind mentorship from some of Yum! Brands’ top franchisees in the U.S., in-restaurant training, a sponsored trip to Yum! Brands’ Louisville Restaurant Support Center and a number of unique curated franchising professional experiences during the semester. The Yum! Franchise Accelerator provides each student with learning focused on scholarship, mentorship and entrepreneurship that culminates in a pitch competition where two grand prize winners will receive seed money, additional training and mentorship, as well as an opportunity to become a future Yum! franchisee.
“I am thrilled for the University of Louisville to partner with Howard University and Yum! Brands on this exciting, synergistic fellowship to create exceptional opportunities for underrepresented people of color and women,” said Lori Stewart Gonzalez, interim president of UofL. “This program of the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence exemplifies our commitment to enhanced student experience and upholds our antiracism promise. I am certain it will have life-changing impact not only on participating students but far beyond, through their future entrepreneurial success and with those they mentor and inspire.”
“Howard students have always been passionate about entrepreneurship because of the potential it has to impact not just their own lives, but the lives of people in their communities. The Franchise Accelerator is an incredible opportunity for Howard students to gain training in and access to a sector that has served as a wealth-building engine for so many communities,” said Yuvay Meyers Ferguson, assistant dean of impact and engagement and associate professor of marketing at Howard University. “We are so grateful and excited about our partnership with UofL and Yum! Brands and what it will mean for increasing representation of women and people of color in the franchise industry.”
Since June, more than 200 students have participated in programs at the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, including more than 100 undergraduate students, 55 graduate students and more than 75 participants in the executive-level Franchise Management Certificate program. The center is the first business program of its kind at a public university to provide existing and potential franchisees multiple levels of online education focused on the franchising model across industries. It focuses on recruiting and educating underrepresented people of color and women on the possibilities of franchising as a pathway to entrepreneurship.
“From the beginning, the goal of the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence was to amplify our world-class franchising model and give more underrepresented people of color and women access to franchise ownership and the ability to create generational wealth and a legacy,” said Wanda Williams, head of Yum! Global Franchising. “This program is consistent with our goal of becoming the world’s multi-brand franchisor of choice which strives to create a global franchise system as diverse as the communities we serve. Adding the faces and voices of underrepresented people of color and women leads to diversity of ownership and thought, builds on our legacy of developing and growing franchising and creating jobs and broadens the reach of Yum!’s world-class franchising model.”
During the semester, each student will take part in sessions that allow them to learn directly from Yum! Brands executives, successful franchisees and restaurant operators, as well as interacting with brand franchise recruiters. Each student participating in the Yum! Franchise Accelerator will be paired with a current Yum! Brands franchisee who will serve as a mentor and thought partner during the semester-long program.
“Franchising is a proven model to empower communities to build and sustain generational wealth,” said Kathleen Gosser, assistant professor of franchise management and director of the UofL Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence. “This pilot program will accelerate this process for our deserving cohort of talented MBA students, allowing them to become the future of franchising success within underrepresented populations. And when this success occurs, the entire community benefits.”
The creation and funding of the UofL Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence is part of Yum! Brands’ global Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, in which the company committed $100 million over five years to promote equity and inclusion, education and entrepreneurship for employees, frontline restaurant teams and communities around the world. Across KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill, and in close collaboration with Yum!’s franchisees, the Unlocking Opportunity Initiative builds on more than 20 years of investing in the Company’s people-first culture.
The franchising model is strong in the U.S. and globally and makes business ownership accessible to many individuals. When 2021 year-end data is finalized, the International Franchise Association projects the franchising industry will have increased to more than 780,000 outlets employing 8.4 million people in the U.S. alone.