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Yum Brands launches a ‘franchise accelerator’ to improve diversity in franchising

The owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut is working with the University of Louisville and Howard University on an MBA-level program to help women and people of color interested in franchising.
Yum Brands center of franchise excellence
Photograph: Shutterstock

Yum Brands on Thursday announced the launch of the Yum Franchise Accelerator, an effort done along with Howard University and the University of Louisville that is designed to help women and people of color who are interested in franchising.

Ten second-year MBA students, six from Howard and four from the University of Louisville, have been selected for the five-month fellowship.

The intensive course will culminate in a pitch competition in which the winners will get the opportunity to become future franchisees of one of Yum’s four brands.

The effort is part of the Yum Center for Global Franchise Excellence, launched at the University of Louisville’s College of Business last year.

Scott Catlett, chief legal and franchise officer with Yum, called the partnership “groundbreaking” and said the effort is designed to provide underrepresented groups with training to help them advance their careers in franchise restaurants.

“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 into our U.S. system,” Catlett said in a statement.

The effort is part of a growing movement inside franchises to provide more opportunities for ownership to people from underrepresented groups—McDonald’s, for instance, has started its first recruitment effort in decades in a bid to diversify its franchise base.

Yum is bringing some of the top franchisees in the U.S. to help mentor the fellows in the program. They will also receive in-restaurant training and a sponsored trip to Yum’s Restaurant Support Center in Louisville. The fellows will receive education from the Yum Center and other unique franchising experiences.

The grand prize winners will receive seed money, additional training and mentorship, and an opportunity to become a Yum operator. “I am certain it will have a life-changing impact not only on participating students but far beyond, through their future entrepreneurial success and with those they mentor and inspire,” Lori Stewart Gonzalez, interim president of the University of Louisville, said in a statement.

Since June, more than 200 students have participated in the Yum Center for Global Franchise Excellence, including 100 undergraduate students, 55 graduate students and 75 in an executive-level management certificate program. Yum says it is the first business program of its kind at a public university providing existing and potential franchisees with an online education focused on franchising.

“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,” Wanda Williams, head of Yum Global Franchising, said in a statement.

Students learn directly from Yum executives, franchisees and operators and interact with brand franchise recruiters. Students participating in the Yum Franchise Accelerator will be paired with a franchisee who serves as a mentor.

The program was created as part of Yum’s global Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, in which the company committed $100 million over five years to promote equity and inclusion around the world.

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