Marty Kress and Michael Seid Will Present at IFA Conference 2018

jagudelo General

GWI Executive Director, Marty Kress, to co-lead a new session on social franchising at the International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention, February 10-13.

Marty’s presentation at the convention represents a unique opportunity for GWI to have its concept for Franchising Water Services reviewed by the world’s experts in franchising. The concept is based on an idea Marty had when assessing the reasons why so many water systems in Africa fail.

Many of the root causes of failure – lack of supply chains, operational support, workforce development, access to financing, business training and quality control – are key ingredients in a successful franchise. If we want to stop spending money on ineffective water systems, Marty reasoned, why not turn the provision of water into a social franchise?

Professor Keely Croxton (Fisher School of Business) and MBA students have been developing the idea over the past two years, and it was further refined by members of GWI’s External Advisory Board, including Marty’s co-lead for the social franchising session – Michael Seid. Michael is a leading practitioner and author about franchising, and Chairman of the IFA’s Social Sector Franchising Task Force.

Marty hopes that his presentation on Franchising Water Services generate constructive feedback, attract new advisors for the GWI model and for OSU students, and raise the profile of both GWI’s Sustainable Village Water Systems Program in Tanzania and Ohio State.

Ohio State will be one of only a handful of universities represented at the convention, making this a chance to brand Ohio State as an innovator in economic development for Africa. Marty’s goal is for Ohio State to become the home of a new movement to solve pressing global issues with innovative market mechanisms, with the water services franchise model serving as the first example.

Marty and Michael hope that their social franchising session will also encourage people to think more innovatively about using the franchising model to address critical development issues. Currently, there are two social franchising activities underway in Kenya and Rwanda for health services. Marty thinks the model can be further expanded to water and energy systems, not only to help ensure the sustainability of these systems but also to create new jobs – a critical need in sub-Saharan Africa.

Marty looks forward to interacting with a diverse group of people at the conference, discussing new ideas and getting feedback to improve the GWI model. Marty believes, “Good ideas can withstand scrutiny and scrutiny will only make one’s ideas better.”

Good luck at the conference, GWI team!

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