Newry and Mourne Carers, who provide support and respite to families and carers in their area, need around £100k per year to run their Newry based social enterprise which is mostly supported by volunteers. They are currently in final talks with Leisure Leagues - Europe's largest provider of small-sided football leagues and football league management, about becoming their master franchisee and having the rights to deliver the Leisure Leagues business model in Northern Ireland.
It is just one of 20 organisations that have successfully made it onto the first phase of the Invest Northern Ireland funded Social Franchising Programme. It looks at social franchising as an opportunity to develop new profitable social enterprises, supporting other activities and meeting social needs.
Seamus O’Prey, Chief Executive of Ortus, the business development agency running the programme, explains that the first 20 organisations selected for the first ever Social Franchising Programme have started work and are well on their way to developing profitable businesses and employing people in their local area.
“Response to the first call for has been so successful we are now looking for 20 more social enterprises interested in franchising.
“The Social Franchising Programme is part of Invest Northern Ireland's Jobs Fund initiative and our aim is to create a total of 285 new jobs across Northern Ireland in the next two years.
We will do this by providing funding, advice and capability support as well as a package of intensive business support including one-to-one mentoring and an individual implementation plan for each of the organisations to take forward their franchise plans.
“To date the programme has attracted national and international attention, and in England, organisations are now looking to develop a similar programme based on ours. .
“Social franchises in Europe already generate an annual turnover of £335million and employ over 13,000 people. We are calling for those groups interested in investigating a franchise model to register for the programme using our quick and easy online application form."
Bill Scott, Invest Northern Ireland's Executive Director of the Regional Business Group, said:
“Social enterprises make a unique contribution to the social and economic framework of Northern Ireland in delivering local jobs and wealth creation. By creating businesses, generating income, promoting employment, innovation and entrepreneurship, they can help to create sustainable and cohesive communities as can be seen through the success of the Newry and Mourne Carers.
"Our Social Franchising Programme provides comprehensive support to organisations that want to buy into a franchise and start a new social enterprise. It will also support established social enterprises to develop their own social franchise which may then be replicated in other areas. This pattern of developing new social enterprises and growing existing social economy businesses using the franchise model is an exciting opportunity.”
With UK based franchises generating a combined turnover of £12.4 Billion and employing 531,000 people, the potential revenue and employment opportunities offered by Social Franchising is being hailed as the key to the continued sustainability of the community, voluntary and social economy sector in Northern Ireland.
Further information on the programme and online application forms can be found at www.socialfranchisingni.com. Alternatively, contact James Scott at Ortus for more information on 028 90 311002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for applications is 26 October 2012.