Improving health and reducing inequities worldwide


Social Franchising

Social franchises are networks of private health providers that use commercial franchising methods to achieve social rather than financial goals. Building upon existing expertise in poor communities, social franchises organize multiple, existing, private providers into contractually obligated networks. These franchisees are then trained and supported to provide new, or improved, services in addition to their normal patient treatment regimens. Social franchising focuses on five goals: cost effectiveness, equity, health impact, quality, and health market expansion. Over 90 social franchises now provide health services in developing countries worldwide. Both for-profit and non-profit organizations run social franchises and offer services ranging from family planning and HIV/AIDS testing, to tuberculosis treatment and the provision of safe deliveries.

The Global Health Group is working with implementers and other partners to document and evaluate this innovative platform. The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative serves as an external catalyst for the generation, interpretation, and dissemination of information related to social franchising operation and management. As part of this effort, we work to document standards and protocols of social franchises; conduct, and support others to conduct, case studies of programs; conduct operational research on franchise operations and effectiveness; support dissemination of research conducted by others; and advise on the design and analysis of franchise management information systems.

Examples of the Private Sector Healthcare Initiative’s Research on Social Franchising Include:

  • Tiendas de Salud, Guatemala
    The Tiendas de Salud (TISA) program is a micro-pharmacy program through a partnership with the Linked Foundation and Mercy Corps. It seeks to expand access to essential medicines in rural communities. The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative conducted an evaluation of the TISA model in order to assess healthcare access and utilization in communities in which TISA operates, community-level effects of the program and operational challenges and successes of the model.
  • Myanmar Collaborative Studies
    The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative partnered with Population Services International (PSI) in Myanmar to conduct a series of four studies over three years. These studies were designed to study four goals of social franchising: quality, cost-effectiveness, equity and health impact. Other study partners included Dr. David Bishai of Johns Hopkins University and epidemiologist Dr. Willi McFarland of UCSF’s Global Health Sciences.
  • Clinical Social Franchising Compendium
    In July, the Global Health Group published the Clinical Social Franchising Compendium, A Survey of Programs: Findings from 2013. The sixth annual overview highlights 58 programs, including health impact data and equity reporting.
  • Case Study Series
    The Global Health Group partners with social franchises around the world to publish a series of case studies using a standard template to encourage comparison and cross-pollination among programs worldwide.

Since 2009, the Private Sector Healthcare Initiative has convened a growing community of practice around social franchising to foster greater understanding of and research on this innovative model. The Private Sector Healthcare Initiative also leads the Social Franchising Metrics Working Group (SFMWG). The SFMWG is made up of implementing and donor agencies, as well as academic and research institutions. The working group collaborates to identify, test, and advocate for the use of high-quality metrics that address the five goals of social franchising. Please visit SF4Health.org to learn more.