Microfranchise010 targets the group of welfare recipients. These people, often skilled but without business skills, will be enrolled into guided entrepreneurship in the enterprise that develops through the business that is currently in its pilot phase.

In microfranchise concepts that are selected on their niche position in the market, entrepreneurs can develop their business skills and can operate under the brandname and network that the mother franchisee offers. Enviu is currently working on developing the concept that the already existing mother franchisee will, in time, run independently. This franchisee will be financially sustainable and independent, with shares held by Enviu.

What is the microfranchise?

A number of business models have currently been selected to potentially serve to employ welfare recipients. Important is that these businesses require a certain degree of skill, but maintain a low threshold. The pilot program concerns a handyman business and an elderly care model. 10 skilled entrepeneurs have been selected, and have started their training in basic business skills at Enviu. While they are not currently responsible for their clientele, they will be expected to find their own clients in the future.

The concepts for the businesses need to complement the current market. Inspired by American concepts, Enviu aims to provide easily accessible handyman services. Delivering by bike, these services will be available quickly and with a low carbon footprint. This business will be developed in cooperation with an existing company, called ‘Klussenier’, but will eventually be a seperate franchise called ‘ExpressKlus’.

"Enviu employs the talent and skills of the unemployed in a developed country"

Why is Microfranchise010 a best-practice microfranchise?

Enviu believes in the skill of welfare recipients. Employing their talent and complementing it with business skills, they believe these people can become financially independent again. Enviu is one of the few organizations that aims to use the branding and training that makes up the guided entrepreneurship of microfranchise in the Netherlands.

In conversation with Jelle Hanskamp

In Rotterdam you can find Enviu’s offices, the base from which Microfranchise010 is developed. Jelle invited us there to discuss what microfranchising means to Enviu and their Microfranchise010 project. Here are some of his messages.

Not everybody is an entrepreneur

Jelle expressed his genuine concern that anyone could fall under welfare for the most diverse reasons. These people are not under-skilled, under-motivated, poor labour. Yet, it is likely that they lack the skills to become successful entrepreneurs at once. The training that the pilot program Microfranchise010 offers started a few weeks ago, and Jelle was outspokenly positive about the group of people he was working with. “Next class, we will be working on finance and administration. These are the skills that these entrepreneurs find most important.” Through Microfranchise concepts, new entrepreneurs can be eased into running a business.

Business must be well tested

The concept that Jelle discussed is well-developed and has great potential. Yet, it will commence on a small scale. While concept development is important, Jelle stressed that it is best to start working straight away. The first training has already started, led by Jelle himself, while in the actual program, experienced handymen will be in charge of this. This week, the number of assignments suffice to employ the 10 welfare recipients enough to allow them not to exceed the maximum earnings allowed under their welfare. The whole team looks forward to the results: how will the entrepreneurs perform, what will the feedback be, will there be enough assignments following? For every startup, 5 others will fail, were the wise words that Jelle shared with us. You must be open to change every concept you have worked on, until you find what exactly the market wants.

Concepts must be sensitive to the social environment

Microfranchise010 works with a sensitive population. Not only can their labour force come from a troubled background, their market is also a crowded one, and cluttered with strict regulation. The concept is set up to address these issues in several ways. It divide the population into those that are easily moved into employment and those who are not so easily employed, and focus currently only on that part of welfare recipients that are mentally very well capable of going into business, only to focus on the rest of the population once the concept has developed further. In the crowded market, they manage to maintain low prices, despite the human resources that are invested into training and concept development. They compete mostly with the black market, and invading and outcompeting that market is a positive development, Jelle says. “While they don’t realize it straight away, in the long term it is a great benefit to fall under the governmental protection that registered employment can offer.” They are careful not to have a negative on the part of the market that provides legitimate employment to independent entrepreneurs, so to replace one group of unemployed persons with another. Lastly, Enviu is in collaboration and discussion with the municipality, to improve legislation limiting welfare recipients. Because recipients undergo cuts in their welfare if they exceed certain earnings, they are vulnerable when they start a business. If the business does not run the second month as it did the first, they will have nothing to live on. Enviu offers structural solutions to unemployment, and is in conversation with welfare recipients themselves. That gives them a strong position to negotiate improved legislation with the government, which, in turn, may improve their business.