Thank you for the positive feedback. We began testing the microfranchise model in 2015, with full implementation in early 2016. We currently have 38 franchises and over 100 microfranchises. Beneficiaries who began buying Jibu water from established franchises proposed the initial concept by reselling Jibu water in neighborhoods that did not yet have a Jibu franchise. Initially, these resellers operated independently and sold Jibu water alongside other products, in unbranded shops or market areas. We realized that these reseller points offered opportunities to reach new customers, expand our brand awareness, and vet young entrepreneur candidates.
With mentorship and support from the SPRING program funded by USAID, UKaid and the Nike Foundation, we rolled the reseller concept into a formal microfranchise program, and in the process learned how much young entrepreneurs benefit from hands-on training on topics including profit & loss statements, cash flow, and customer service. We’ve had much higher retention and advancement rates after implementing formal support systems including an initial 2-day training, recurrent monthly meetings at our corporate offices, one-on-one sessions with our microfranchise coordinator, standard marketing packets (including storefront signage, banners, customer flyers, and pricing lists), and official placement with a franchisee. We have also learned that young microfranchisees thrive on reaching competitive goals. To be selected for a full franchise, microfranchisees must grow their sales to the top 10 in their region, and after implementing this policy we saw a spike in microfranchise sales rates.
We partner with several in-country educational organizations who refer candidates who have completed their soft-skills training programs. Due to our brand recognition, we also have a steady stream of unsolicited candidates. Each candidate is paired with a franchisee who vets candidates based on their alignment with Jibu’s mission and values, as well as the level of initiative and aptitude demonstrated during interviews. Once accepted, a candidate signs an official agreement with a franchisee, and begins buying water in bulk at a discounted rate. Typically, microfranchises are located within walking distance of a franchise, and do not need a vehicle. The required prerequisites are the time commitments for training, and the working capital for initial bottle inventory and lease of a small sales area. For young microfranchise candidates lacking capital, we can arrange loans directly through Jibu or our funding partners. Since ongoing support is provided by Jibu Corporate, the success of the microfranchise does not depend directly on a franchise (in the rare case in which a franchise closes, the microfranchise will then be matched with another franchisee). Through our microfranchise program, we have witnessed a win-win for the young entrepreneurs and for the established franchises – the youth receive the training and experience to develop into full business owners, and the franchisees increase their sales and market reach through the microfranchise network.
Dear Pascale - thanks for the feedback and question. We have not encountered resellers (microfranchises) selling fake Jibu water because we have taken proactive measures to ensure quality control. Jibu bottles are sealed with both a tamper-evident seal and a plastic cap at the franchise location where the water is packaged (where the MF purchases from). Bottles with broken seals are considered contaminated and are not allowed to be sold. Because Jibu operates in an urban context, there is a general knowledge among customers that products you buy should have safety seals intact. If Jibu customers ever encounter an unsealed bottle, it is unsafe and should not be purchased. As a further quality control measure, we make unannounced visits to microfranchises to monitor their bottles, and we require microfranchises to report sales to their local franchise owner. If we were to see that a microfranchise was selling large quantities of water but rarely restocking their bottle supply, we would suspect that they were refilling bottles with unclean water and would investigate. And finally, microfranchisees undergo an extensive selection process, including interviews and competency testing, and once selected, receive training and sign an agreement about product security.