It's a great time for minorities to open franchises!

More opportunities exist today than ever before. This is due to the fact that many companies, both large and small, are making a solid commitment to diversity. The 60's and 70's experienced a boom in franchising. Now we are seeing another significant boom as minorities, women and young entrepreneurs enter the marketplace as franchise owners.

Businesses of all kinds are constantly seeking to expand their customer base and find themselves relying more and more on minority-owned franchises to access ethnic and urban markets. According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia, the collective spending power of minorities is over $860 billion and is increasing rapidly as ethnic populations continue to grow. Companies seeking to reach multi-cultural consumers are creating special programs, from recruiting and mentoring to financial incentives, to attract minority entrepreneurs who will cater to these consumers.

Historically minority business owners have worked hard to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into reality. The opportunities, however, have not always been there. An immigrant from Central America, for example, with no connections and little money has in the past experienced a much tougher time launching a business than someone long-established in the community with access to significant capital. Sadly, discrimination often prevented talented, motivated minority franchise-owners from succeeding.

Times are changing... thank goodness!

About twenty to twenty-five years ago advocacy groups began to push for ways and means to help more minorities own franchises. The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (www.ushcc.com) was formed in 1979 to develop a strong business network for the Hispanic community. The NAACP (www.naacp.org) launched Operation Fair Share in 1983 to promote growth in entrepreneurship among African-Americans. The United States Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (www.uspaacc.com) began promoting business opportunities for Asian-Americans in 1984. These organizations and others have helped change the landscape of franchising by opening the door for more people of color and ethnic minorities.

In the past ten years many companies, including Burger King and the Ramada Inn, have developed programs to attract and support minority franchise-owners. They have invested money in advertising, training, and financing to further enhance their desire to encourage diversity in franchise recruiting. In the next several years minority franchise programs are expected to increase in scope and number.

Despite the recent economic downturn franchising has held its own as one of the fastest-growing segments of the business economy. The number of minority-owned and operated franchises continues to grow, most dramatically in large metro areas, thus providing viable opportunities for men and women from all segments of the population.

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