Finding Your Fortune in Franchising

Franchising is hardly a new topic for our editors to tackle. This sector is and has been an important contributor to the U.S. economy, and if tapped into properly, it can serve as a viable avenue through which African Americans can build wealth. In our inaugural issue of Black Enterprise, in August 1970, we produced a franchising feature that included such high-profile entrepreneurs at the time as then Pittsburgh Steelers superstar Brady Keys, former astronaut Ed Dwight, and rock and roll legend Fats Domino. And 23 years ago, in our September 1987 issue, we viewed franchising as such a significant area of opportunity that we developed our black enterprise Franchise 50 to help readers identify franchise businesses that offered the lowest barriers to entry.

Since then, we’ve continued to present a range of such options, from the most affordable franchises to those in which you can earn money from home. We’ve also highlighted a bevy of successful entrepreneurs to demonstrate to readers how they, too, can participate in this arena. This year we took our coverage to a higher level. Led by our foremost experts on entrepreneurship and business trends, Editorial Director Alan Hughes and Small Business Editor Tennille M. Robinson, we’ve developed our latest editorial franchise–pardon the pun–the 40 Best Franchises for African Americans. Our listing takes a critical look at hot spots and adds another layer of scrutiny by weeding out companies that were found lacking in areas of most concern to our readers–revenue potential, startup costs, and inclusion and diversity efforts.

Our crack research team, headed by Vice President of Research Stacia Tackie and Market Research Analyst J. Wesley Miller, worked in conjunction with the International Franchise Association, the industry’s trade group in Washington, D.C., to compile this issue’s list. With the IFA’s help, black enterprise scoured the universe of thousands of franchises in a half-dozen growth sectors and cherry-picked the most viable options for African American entrepreneurs. What makes our list so functional for prospective business owners is that they can find an array of industries, from automotive repair to business services, and an eclectic collection of franchisors from iconic McDonald’s to fast-growing Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, owned by Lowell Hawthorne, a Jamaican entrepreneur who has realized his dream of bringing island-flavored cuisine to the masses.

This cover story details the compelling narrative of co-preneurs who are building wealth by taking advantage of franchising opportunities: retired U.S. Army personnel Donald and Gwendolyn King, who earn more than $100,000 in their spare time with a youth sports franchise. “Franchising offers qualified individuals the chance to get into entrepreneurship on a full- or part-time basis,” says Robinson. “If nothing else, the recession and subsequent recovery proved that everyone should be prepared with a safety net. And for some, that has been the franchising industry.”