Board Apprentice started in 2013 as an idea to help boards take an active role in resolving the lack of diversity on boards. Countries all over the world are struggling with resolving the same issue of having too many homogeneous boards and need to become more diverse as competition intensifies and new markets are sought.

One very obvious solution is to ask all boards to take part in developing tomorrow’s board members by ‘reserving a seat at the table for education’; this is the essence of Board Apprentice. Of course, safeguards can be provided via legal agreements and appropriate processes and procedures. The idea was quickly embraced by many progressive boards in different countries and the demand for the concept grew rapidly within a short space of time.

Set up as a not-for-profit organisation, we (Board Apprentice Global) quickly realised that we needed a company structure that could support the growing demand globally and mange the time of our volunteer members. In addition, we needed to balance being global and have a local-feel to feed off the global branding and satisfy specific local needs, laws and regulations. This led us to become a social enterprise structured as a social franchise. Franchising has worked for a wide range of businesses from office services to fast food restaurants – and now also for social enterprises.

To be able to easily replicate the concept globally, we needed a tried and tested way of doing so, whilst protecting the branding and ensuring that our carefully developed processes and procedures were followed. We have set up Board Apprentice in a number of different countries and have witnessed how the concept can be easily adapted to any local situation.

What does franchising a social enterprise involve?

Board Apprentice Global looks for partners aligned with our values, who understand our concept and who have identified demand for the concept. We influence social change, corporate governance and equality through our work with boards, governments, academia and corporations.

The human resources needed to set up and run a group of 20 host boards is initially about 1-2 days a week. This can be covered through donating time or someone sponsoring the cost of hiring a person. The annual franchise fee is covered through apprentice administration fee income. There is no set-up cost.

Board Apprentice Global gives each franchise the power and tools to take ownership of their local Board Apprentice project. Franchisees need to have the time and/or funding to run for at least a year whilst building up host board participants. Board Apprentice Global supports and trains a person or company in setting up anywhere in the world to create a local group of host boards offering board apprentice opportunities.

We provide all necessary legal templates for the boards, apprentices and for potential local corporate members. Franchisees are supplied with a full operations manual with all necessary additional material and procedures. We also provide free online introduction to governance best practice training for apprentices through Global Governance Group.

A locally-run franchise is best placed to find their own funding and local volunteer network. The franchisees know where the support is locally and can go to local businesses and government to raise support and/or funds. They also know how to address the local community in a way that works.

Board Apprentice Global develops relationships with a number of regional, supra-national and global businesses who are corporate members and who use the concept as a talent retention and attraction tool. We will coordinate with our franchise holders around the world to place employees from these entities on their host boards. This will also help the individual franchisees with further funding.

Summary of the Board Apprentice Social Franchise Offer

Our social franchise system will support independent organisations (such as private companies, academic institutions, NGOs or national governments) operating in their area, sector, country or with specific kind of people to take on the delivery of the Board Apprentice concept in their territory.

Empowering and supporting franchisees to take on independent delivery of the Board Apprentice concept will enable us to expand its reach in a sustainable and cost effective manner, whilst ensuring that quality and local leadership remain central to our brand.

In exchange for an annual fee, with no start-up fee, our franchise concept will offer franchisees:

  1. A tool to effect a sustainable change to the pool of diversifying, high-calibre, board-ready talent and to engage with all stakeholders.
  2. Access to clear and effective learning and support packages.
  3. Access to integrated quality assurance and impact assessment systems.
  4. An international peer network with learning, influencing and networking opportunities.
  5. Association with Board Apprentice Global and the Board Apprentice concept, brand and profile.

The fee for each franchisee is agreed with Board Apprentice Global. The unit for a franchisee group is up to 20 host boards educating tomorrow’s board members on an ongoing basis. A franchisee can operate one or a number of units subject to agreement from Board Apprentice Global, who will assess if the necessary resources are in place. The geographical area for each franchisee and its group(s) is individually agreed.

We welcome enquiries from anyone interested in becoming a Board Apprentice franchisee and take an active part in making change happen in ‘developing tomorrow’s board leaders today.’

Author: Charlotte Valeur, Founder and Chair, Board Apprentice Global