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Women in Franchising in 2017

News, Articles, Success Stories and Advice on Franchising
Women in Franchising in 2017

Women in Franchising in 2017

There seems to be a barrier at about 26% (a quarter) beyond which women ownership of franchises in South Africa – but also other countries – struggles to penetrate.

According to the latest Franchise Association of South Africa ‘Franchise Industry Survey Results’, ownership of the franchise industry by women in South Africa averaged 26% in 2016, exactly the same as in 2015.

The Small Business Administration (SBA), a US institution, has been tracking women in franchising since the 1970s. It notes that women starting their own businesses have been on the rise for decades now, but off a low base. One study found that 10% of all companies established during 1975-2000 were female-owned franchises. Several years ago, the International Franchise Association (IFA) estimated the percentage of women operating franchises to be 25% – very similar to the South African percentage – though that doesn’t include another 17% of the population where men and women operate franchises together as partners.

FASA’s 2016 Survey broke down the average statistics (ownership by women) by sector:

Childcare, education & training67%
Business-to-business sectors34%
Personal Services33%
Health, beauty & body culture31%
Leisure & entertainment30%
Social franchises25%
Building, office & home services19%
Fast food & restaurants14%
Real estate11%
Construction & related4%


It’s surprising the percentage ownership of women remains so low, as many business analysts point to the many trait advantages women have over men in business: their greater persistence; their higher empathy for staff; their innate service culture

Here are some of the many reasons why franchising is a natural fit for women:

  1. Female franchise owners can have a subtle advantage over their male counterparts by being seen as more approachable and having a better understanding of the needs of other women.
  2. According to an Australian National Board of Employment, Education and Training report, small businesses operated by women tend to have significantly higher survival rates. The report attributes this to ‘better preparation prior to start-up – including research into financial and management advice, and keeping debts and overheads low’. The report also states that women are more likely than men to adopt a deliberate strategy to remain small (for one explanation, see below).
  3. Women are great at multi-tasking, which is one of the reasons they do so well in the small-business world of franchising. Franchisees are required to have multifaceted roles, and multi-tasking is a career requirement.
  4. One of the reasons women are so successful in the franchising industry is because they are team players. They build excellent networks and teams of strong men and women around them.
  5. Women are renowned for being particularly keen on mentoring, viewing others – especially women – as peers instead of competition. Every occupation holds the potential for finding a mentor, but franchising takes mentorship to the next level. Franchisees have access to a huge network of people who have gone through similar experiences when creating their franchise, while the franchise industry maintains close relationships among each other, making it easy to connect with others in the industry.
  6. Franchising offers women greater choice in work/life balance. One reason why women often choose to keep their businesses small is the knowledge they have a family to look after, and they are increasingly reluctant to sacrifice their family time.


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