Sustainability of social franchises: Quality assurance through M&E

Sustainability of a social franchise can be achieved by:Sustainability of social franchises: Quality assurance through M&E

  • reducing reliance on donor funding and
  • become self-sustainable through income streams generated by the franchisees.

This process may take some time, and it is the responsibility of the franchisor to work towards financial sustainability. However, it is unlikely for most social franchises to survive without some form of donor support. Therefore, monitoring and evaluation of quality is vital to enable these organisations to report on impact to its donor partners.

Franchisees’ interest in quality assurance can be ensured by a combination of:

  • training,
  • encouragement
  • and penalties.

As in commercial franchising, non-compliance with standards could result in disenfranchisement. If the franchisees perceive value and benefit from being associated with the franchisor, they will comply with standards to avoid being disenfranchised.

Another aspect that makes quality assurance critical in social franchising is the fact that the services being franchised are often of a sensitive nature, as is the case with reproductive health and health services in general. When the services provided have a direct impact on the physical wellbeing of the end user, it stands to reason that consumers will be very sensitive to the quality of service provided. Research has shown that consumer choices in reproductive health strongly depend on the reputation of the provider. If one franchisee does not comply with quality standards, it may harm the reputation of the entire franchise.

Quality assurance framework in social franchises in the health sector

Quality assurance

This framework consists of:

  1. Recruitment – ensuring that the facility meets basic standards or has the ability to upgrade before joining the network.
  2. Training – initial and follow-up training on standards of the network.
  3. Monitoring of clinical and non-clinical quality – this can be done with regular visits and checklists.
  4. Monitoring of client experience – this can be done with client surveys.
  5. Feedback loop – this may include benchmarking exercises, self-assessments, reward systems and verifying of data.

Case studies of non-clinical social franchises

There is a high degree of flexibility when it comes to localised implementation. However, franchisees have to achieve and maintain certain minimum standards that are clearly communicated to them.

Experience from implementing a social franchise accelerator in South Africa also points to the importance of minimum standards and how this negates the uneasiness around the perceived rigidity of franchise systems for the social impact sector

Incentive systemincentive system

The Janani group implemented a system of incentives to encourage franchisees to comply with quality standards. If a franchisee gets a perfect score on the scoring criteria for site evaluation of the franchise, which includes cleanliness and representation of the brand, their membership fees are reduced on a quarterly basis. Membership fees may be reduced by as much as half of the annual fees

It seems that a combination of incentives and penalties could be a successful way of ensuring quality in social franchises.


  • Bonnici, F., du Toit, A., & Henrikssen, T. (2015). Insights from the implementation of a Social Franchising Accelerator programme in South Africa. In International Conference on Economics and Management of Networks – EMNet. Cape Town.
  • Gopalakrishnan, K., Prata, N., Montagu, D., Mitchell, B., & Walsh, J. (2000). NGO’s providing low cost, high quality family planning and reproductive health services. Case study: Janani - India.
  • Montagu, D. (2002). Franchising of health services in low-income countries. Health Policy and Planning, 17, 121–130. doi:10.1093/heapol/17.2.121
  • Schlein, K., De La Cruz, A.Y., Gopalakrishnan, T. & Montagu, D. (2013). Private sector delivery of health services in developing countries: a mixed-methods study on quality assurance in social franchises. BMC Health Services Research, 13(1), 4. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-4
  • Smith, E. (2002). Social franchising of reproductive health services. Can it work? Marie Stopes Working Papers (No. 5).
  • Volery, T., & Hackl, V. (2010). The promise of social franchising as a model to achieve social goals. In A. Fayolle & H. Matley (Eds.), The handbook of research on social entrepreneurship. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Get in touch with Franchising Plus to discuss social franchising in detail, contact us today

Comments are closed.