Strong women in franchising – this business is not just for men anymore

August 2014

The franchise business model is no longer a man’s game. More and more women are finding a business home in the franchise world and paving the way for other to do the same. As the country celebrates women’ s month this August it is encouraging to see how many strong women are now heading successful franchises.

In fact in the latest research conducted by Franchize Directions, we see a significant shift in the increase of women franchisees, increasing from just under 29% in the 2010 survey to almost 34% of franchisees in 2012. This result is significant as it points to female ownership in various service-based business categories.

Lindy Barbour, Franchize Directions Director, says this could in part be due to pressure for additional disposable income requirements. “Franchising offers a relatively low risk barrier to entry. The benefits of skills transfer and the ongoing support of the franchisor makes it far more attractive than pursuing an independent start up.”

Richard Mukheibir CEO of Cash Converters, the largest second hand goods franchise in the world, says they have seen a steady increase in the number of women entering the industry with 34% of all their franchisees in South Africa now women. “Aside from the economic argument, we believe women tend to be really strong executers and collaborators and seem to thrive in a franchising community that breeds openness and mentorship. They also have strong networking and communications skills that are so important when it comes to communicating with the franchisor, vendors, and customers,” he says.

Vera Valais, executive director of the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) concurs, saying that women generally are more detailed oriented and set very high standards for themselves. “These are key attributes to becoming a successful franchisee and of interest, the top performers in many of the brands are notably women.”

Mukheibir agrees. “Women tend to be great organisers, can prioritize well, and have an eye for detail. Characteristics like these are a perfect match for operating a franchise. They also have the ability to think quickly, improvise, and adapt when necessary and these are definite strengths in our sector,” he says. “Female business owners also tend to be more financially conservative and willing to start small on their way to growing big. This is the kind of business approach and philosophy that is perfect for opening, operating, and growing a franchise.”

The franchise sector has shown significant resilience over the last couple of years and has not only proved itself as a worthwhile contributor to GDP, but also as a sustained employer. The latest figures available from Franchize Directions peg the number of parties employed at almost 520 000 as of 2012 and it is estimated that the franchise sector has added more than 50 000 jobs to the economy over the last period.

“We believe moving forward that women will play an increasingly dominant role in the sector. It is ideally suited to their unique skills set and a relatively risk free business opportunity if researched well and backed by a strong franchisor,” concludes Mukheibir.



Women have had decades of learning to play by the rules and franchising is definitely a game with a mountain of rules. In our experience for a franchise to be successful it is essential to “work the model”.

Always thoroughly research each and every franchise before making a decision to invest in any particular one. You need to ask the hard questions and listen very carefully to the answers. Exactly what will your investment involve in terms of finance, training, time, rules, guidance and support. Investigate the CEO, check the company ethos, where head office is situated in relation to your location, what type of support is offered, how much autonomy you have. Never forget that although you are part of a corporate being, it is your bottom line. Don’t assume because they have designed shops before they automatically know what’s best. You have to be hands on all the way through the process, often a woman’s perspective has a far more practical approach.


Always do your research well so you know what you are getting into and remember the franchisor is important as they provide the opportunity and the guidelines to run the business.

To make a success of your venture you need to be committed, love what you do, work hard and follow the guidelines.


Goes back to research again as the business plan and business model must also suit your personality and character.
Need a lot of trust and openness with the franchisor as you are almost like business partners.