Yum! Brands Launches Franchise Accelerator Program

Yum! Brands

Program at Howard University, University of Louisville taps 10 grad students for five-month fellowship program

Yum! Brands, the parent company to KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill, has collaborated with two universities on a master’s-level program to assist female entrepreneurs and people of color in franchise careers. The program kicked off with 10 grad students being selected for the five-month fellowship program. 

Six students from Howard University, in Washington, D.C., and four from the University of Louisville in Kentucky – all of them second-year MBA candidates – will participate in the intensive course of study that will include hands-on training and mentoring by top Yum franchisees. Also part of the comprehensive agenda is a visit to the umbrella franchisor’s restaurant support center in Louisville.

The program will conclude with a pitch contest. The top two competitors will be given start-up capital, further training and mentoring, and an opportunity to operate a Yum! Brands restaurant franchise. 

Franchise industry as diversity advocate

Scott Catlett, chief legal and franchise officer with Louisville-based Yum! Brands, said the accelerator is envisioned as a way to provide vital training to underrepresented people so they have a leg up in franchise restaurant careers. In a news release, Lori Stewart Gonzalez, interim president of the University of Louisville, said the program represents a huge benefit directly for the grad students chosen as well as a significant ripple effect beyond that. “It will have a life-changing impact not only on participating students but far beyond, through their future entrepreneurial success and with those they mentor and inspire.” 

The franchise industry recently has been proactive about recruiting minorities, stepping up efforts in recent months. McDonald’s, for instance, in December 2021 launched a $250 million campaign to increase the diversity among its new franchisees.  Also last year, the International Franchise Association (IFA) stepped up its diversity efforts through the organization’s Black Franchise Leadership Council. 

Part of new Yum Center 

The Yum franchise accelerator, which was announced Feb. 3, is a program offered through the Yum Center for Global Franchise Excellence. Both were established as part of Yum’s global Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, which is funded through a $100 million, five-year commitment by Yum! Brands in its campaign for global equity and inclusion. 

The Yum Center for Global Franchise Excellence began operations in 2021 at the University of Louisville’s College of Business. Since last June, 200-plus undergraduate, graduate and executive-level management certificate students already have broadened their educations through the Yum Center for Global Franchise Excellence. The center is a pioneering program of online education for current and future franchisees. Wanda Williams, head of Yum Global Franchising, said in a statement that the center has always aimed to promote its franchising model along with diversity to create generational wealth. 

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Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning writer who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. A seasoned journalist, Mary covers the latest industry news in her role as staff writer for FranchiseWire
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