On Tuesday 28th November 2017, a private sector-led initiative to help develop the franchise sector in the Africa region and boost its economic development, Africa Franchise Centre (AFC) was launched in Lagos. This launch shows that franchising has been identified as the next growth area for African small and medium start-ups. The unveiling ceremony was attended by a number of dignitaries from the public and private sectors as well as the diplomatic community.

AFC aims to “rescue African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and create prosperity on the continent,” by acting as a recruiting centre, and providing an alternative means of growth, franchising. This will eliminate the major risks and uncertainty associated with starting up a new brand. The initiative comes after the study of the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria, identified indiscipline, poor work ethics, lack of structures and transparency as key reasons for the lack of success in SMEs beyond infrastructural and financial pitfalls.

“This is a welcome development from the private sector to support government initiative in enterprise development. It would also enhance the opportunities for youths to take up franchise opportunities that will expose them to international trade and boost the bilateral trade relations between Nigeria and other participating countries,” said the Special Adviser on Overseas Affairs and Investment, to the Lagos State Governor, Prof. Ademola Abass who represented the Governor at the launch.

According to Emma Esinnah, Director of the AFC, the centre was founded to help improve on the success rate of SMEs in Nigeria and Africa as a whole through the adoption of proven business systems that franchising provides. He lamented on the high failure rate of SMEs, which he said was over 90percent after 10 years. He also said Franchising as a business growth model had a failure rate of 5 percent within the same period, making it a veritable model for creating employment and boosting prosperity across Africa.

“We believe AFC does offer a template for SME success and growth in Africa and Nigeria specifically,” said Jennifer Woods, the US Embassy’s Commercial Attache, who represented the US Commercial Counselor in Nigeria. she also said that the US Commercial service has led Franchising Trade Missions to Nigeria where they introduced US Franchises interested in finding partners in Nigeria and that they would “continue to do so working closely with the AFC”. She further said the US Commercial Service would also be working closely with the AFC in coming months on collaborations to support future missions and also do some of the groundwork towards the development of the franchise sector in Nigeria.

The Keynote Speaker at the event and Managing Director of EatNGo, Franchisees of the Domino Pizza and Coldstone Creamery Brands in Nigeria, Antoine Zammarieh, outlined some critical success factors for franchising in Nigeria, adding that there were vast opportunities for growth and success in the Nigerian franchising sector.

He said the Franchises started five years ago in Nigeria with just four employees but had grown to about 1,500 staff across the country, adding that one of the Domino Pizza outfits in Abuja rose to the second position among the 12,500 outlets of the brand globally within two and a half years of operations. Extolling the advantages of franchising for employment generation and revenue creation both for entrepreneurs and government, Zammarieh said franchising “could be the future of SMEs in Africa and Nigeria in particular”.

The Chairman of the Centre for Values in Leadership, Prof. Pat Utomi, who also spoke at the event said that Entrepreneurship is “a quantum leap in value creation”, adding that franchising helped entrepreneurs address the risk element in business by providing a proven successful model. He noted that the majority of the over 2 million millionaires in the US are franchisees and Franchising offered a veritable path for wealth creation for many people in Nigeria. He further said that the most critical factor in Franchising is the discipline of the process, which franchisees must learn to subject themselves to, towards successfully running franchises.

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