- Wendy's announced on Monday a franchise recruitment initiative called “Own Your Opportunity,” which is designed to increase restaurant ownership among women and people of color.
- To support that goal, Wendy's has created "more competitive" net worth and liquidity requirements for potential franchisees. The chain is also investing in a development fund to build turnkey restaurants for franchisees who are unable to raise the requisite capital necessary to build a new location.
- Own Your Opportunity builds on the goals Wendy's laid out in its 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals, which included increasing the presence of women and people of color in corporate leadership and management.
By making its franchise business accessible to a broader population of operators, Wendy’s can also bolster its presence in underpenetrated markets.
The company is developing new restaurant formats to help prospective franchisees join its system with "a lower financial commitment," according to Wendy’s press release. It's unclear whether these store models are already on the market. Wendy’s recently committed to building 700 small ghost kitchens in high-density urban markets with Reef, for example.
The burger chain is working with City National Bank, Huntington National Bank and Wintrust Franchise Finance to help operators secure financing, as well.
"The Wendy's brand truly thrives when our System reflects the diversity of our customers and restaurant teams, and when our franchisees are highly engaged and growing together with us," Wendy's CEO Todd Penegor said in a statement.
Wendy’s joins a cohort of rival brands making commitments to grow diversity among their franchisees. McDonald's, while facing a lawsuit from black franchisees over alleged discrimination, pledged $250 million to increase franchisee diversity through recruiting, financing and development. Yum Brands, meanwhile, opened a franchising center with the University of Louisville to give operators access to online education focused on franchising. The center aims to recruit and educate women and people of color, and is part of a $100 million Yum initiative to improve equity and inclusion within its system.