The Franchise Ascension Initiative

International Franchise Association
1900 K Street, NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20006

Copyright © 2024


International Franchise Association
1900 K Street, NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20006

The Franchise Ascension Initiative (FAI) is a 6-month accelerator program aimed at preparing qualified individuals from underrepresented groups and economically disadvantaged communities with the education, mentorship, resources, and support to successfully launch a career in franchise ownership.

IFA Logo

Get Involved


The goal of the initiative is to narrow the wealth gap by catalyzing diversity in ownership in franchising.

  • The Problem: In 2019, the median White household held 7.8x more wealth than a typical Black household. Further, as of 2019, African Americans made up 14.2% of the population, but only 2.3% of businesses are Black-owned.

  • The Solution: Franchising is a viable path towards wealth creation for all. Franchise businesses create jobs at a rate of 2.3x as high as non-franchise businesses. Franchising is a successful wealth-generation strategy for historically disadvantaged communities, with, for instance, Black-owned franchise firms earning 2.2x as much in sales compared to Black-owned independent businesses, on average.


The first five months of the program will be self-paced online and experiential learning with mentorship, assignments and case studies, which candidates can accomplish within their own schedules with specific deadlines. There is required coursework that is instructor facilitated around franchise fundamentals and understanding the franchise business model, including diligence of a franchise opportunity. Additionally, there will be optional courses that a participant can take to round out their business acumen, as well as leadership and personal development during the tenure of the program. 
The second part of the program will consist of: 
live online learning/facilitated instructor learning; weekly one-on-one mentorship meetings; weekly mentorship cohorts; an expert speaker series; online live learning and experiential assignments.
The final month of the program provides the opportunity for participants to prepare for a pitch contest on a specific franchise opportunity, which includes preparation of a business and financial model and a presentation in front of a selected group of franchisees, suppliers and/or franchisor executives.

The first cohort forming in late 2024/early 2025.

Interactive / Experiential Learning

Structured Online Training

Pitch Contest Case Study

  • Required courses in franchise fundamentals
  • Business management and leadership courses

Beyond the meaningful impact the initiative can make on narrowing the wealth gap, the initiative will increase the diverse franchisee talent pipeline and catalyze scores of qualified, talented entrepreneurs to establish and grow franchise businesses. The program will also expose scores of individuals to the possibilities of franchise ownership and careers in franchising through outreach to underrepresented groups and economically disadvantaged communities during the applicant recruitment process.


The program will target five audiences who are top prospective franchisee candidates:

  1. College Degree Seeking Candidates –This audience pursues franchise ownership as an alternative career path. Ideally graduate school candidates, although undergraduate candidates in community colleges and vocational tracks are also good candidates.

  2. Fractional or Outright Path to Ownership for Experienced Business Managers - Managers with 5+ years of successful management-level experience (in franchise, retail or other systems) who are interested in owning their own business either 100% outright or via a fractional path to ownership with store management.  

  3. Conversion Franchising - Existing business owners with a single unit or two that want to grow their business as part of a larger proven franchise system with support and resources and who may not be aware of franchising as a growth path for their business.

  4. Corporate refugees - Individuals undergoing career changes who may not be aware of the opportunities in franchising. 

  5. High performing franchisees - These candidates will self-identify or be selected by franchisors with the potential for multi-unit ownership.

Resources and support include:
Participants will also have additional access to mentors, legal experts, financial experts, successful franchisees, and franchise consultants


  • Individual and peer cohort mentorship 
  • Speaker engagements with franchise leaders 
  • Field trips and case studies  
  • Develop franchise business plan and present to a panel of successful franchisee, franchisor and supplier judges, some of whom may have franchise opportunities available
Get InvolvedGet InvolvedGet Involved




The Ascension Initiative IFA Leadership

Founding Committee