Louisville-based Yum! Brands Inc. has partnered with the University of Louisville and Howard University, a historically Black research university in Washington, D.C., to launch the Yum! Franchise Accelerator, a new MBA elective opportunity for underrepresented people of color and women interested in the franchise restaurant industry. As the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill, Yum! is a global leader in the restaurant industry.
The new franchise accelerator program gives 10 second-year MBA students from the two universities the opportunity to participate in the five-month fellowship. The participants—six students from Howard University and four from the University of Louisville—receive scholarships; extensive education on the franchise business model through the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence’s franchising curriculum; mentorship from some of Yum!’s top franchisees in the U.S.; in-restaurant training; a sponsored trip to Yum!’s Louisville Restaurant Support Center; and other unique curated franchising professional experiences during the semester.
The program culminates in a pitch competition in which two grand prize winners are selected to receive seed money, additional training and mentorship, as well as an opportunity to become a future Yum! franchisee.
Scott Catlett, chief legal and franchise officer for Yum!, calls the fellowship a “win-win,” noting that “students will receive educational experiences, mentoring and hands-on training unlike any other, while Yum! has the opportunity to welcome two talented business leaders and aspiring, diverse franchisees to our U.S. system.”
The debut of the Yum! Franchise Accelerator follows last year’s launch of the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence at the University of Louisville College of Business. Since June, more than 200 students have participated in programs at the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, including more than 100 undergraduate students, 55 graduate students and more than 75 participants in the executive-level Franchise Management Certificate program.
The center is the first business program of its kind at a public university to provide existing and potential franchisees multiple levels of online education focused on the franchising model across industries. It focuses on recruiting and educating underrepresented people of color and women on the possibilities of franchising as a pathway to entrepreneurship.
“From the beginning, the goal of the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence was to amplify our world-class franchising model and give more underrepresented people of color and women access to franchise ownership and the ability to create generational wealth and a legacy,” said Wanda Williams, head of Yum! Global Franchising. “Adding the faces and voices of underrepresented people of color and women leads to diversity of ownership and thought, builds on our legacy of developing and growing franchising and creating jobs, and broadens the reach of Yum!’s world-class franchising model.”
The creation and funding of the UofL Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence is part of Yum! Brands’ global Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, in which the company has committed $100 million over five years to promote equity and inclusion, education and entrepreneurship for employees, frontline restaurant teams and communities around the world.