IFA continues Franchise Trade Mission with meetings to advance U.S. franchise brands in Libya



By Scott Lehr, CFE, Senior Vice President, U.S. & International Development, International Franchise Association

Libya was not even on the list of countries that the U.S. Franchise Trade Mission to the Middle East was stopping at but Ann Bacher, Regional Counselor of Commercial Affairs for Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Jordon and Lebanon of the U.S. Commercial Service had connections. Ann’s connections and interest in advancing Libya led Behzed Daniel Ferdows of Mammut Technocrete to Cairo to meet with international franchise company executives participating in the trade mission.


Daniel’s businesses, based in Dubai, UAE are focused in the building and construction industries, primarily steel and concrete.  He had a particular interest in one company participating in the trade mission but had other interests that included food and perhaps education. Daniel’s connection with Libya stems from his wife who is from Tripoli. Libya is currently undergoing political reconstruction, after the civil war and NATO led military invasion in 2011 and the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

As Daniel said “We want to be involved in the rebuilding of the country and they need everything, food and restaurants, education, construction and equipment, you name it…there is opportunity for those that get in early”.  Daniel and his sister in law will be meeting with a number of the franchisors from the trade mission while in Cairo and may attend the International Franchise Expo in New York, NY in June to meet with other franchisors willing to step into the market.

For now, there are only a few U.S. Brands in Libya, which include Cinnabon which is reported to be doing very well.  Johnny Rockets is also there but the first location is not open yet. We will see what the future brings for U.S. Franchise Brands in Libya.

Franchise Trade Mission heads to Cairo for the 2013 Middle East International Franchise Exhibition



By Scott Lehr, CFE, Senior Vice President, U.S. & International Development, International Franchise Association

The US Franchise Trade Mission to the Middle East hit its 3rd stop today in Cairo Egypt and just in time for the opening of the 2013 MIFE – Middle East International Franchise Exhibition.

The mission picked up two additional participants that were not with the group in UAE – Johnny Rocket’s represented by Steve Devine and Wing Zone represented by Hair Parra.


The delegation participants were all welcomed at the opening of the trade show with a reception that included Mr. Hatem Saleh, the Minister of Industry and Trade; Mr. Tarek Tawfik, Chairman of the Egyptian Franchise Development Association and Ghada Fathi Waly, Managing Director of the Social Fund for Development who participated in cutting the ribbon to open the show.


Several U.S. Brands and their Master Franchisee were present and exhibiting at the show including Gold’s Gym’s Master for Egypt; Maui Wowi’s master franchisee for Egypt, Emad Fahim; and Papa John’s Pizza Master Franchisee for Egypt, represented by Sharif Galal.  Sharif commented that they currently have 14 locations open and operating with plans to have more than 25 within the next few years.  Maui Wowi’s Master Franchisee Emad Fahim reported that he has not yet opened their first location but has plans to be open within the year and is actively seeking local franchisees for the brand.

The group then sat down for another full day of one-on-one visits with prequalified candidates from the greater Cairo area. The Commercial Service team then brought the delegation to a wonderful dinner cruise on the Nile to complete the evening.

Day 5 of the mission began with a tour of a few new retail projects in the suburbs of New Cairo including Cairo Festival City which is owned by Al-Futtaim out of the UAE.  This project spanning over 700 acres is a mixed use urban community complete with shopping, dining, entertainment, schools, hotels and residential villas and apartments.  Franchise brands already booked into the community include IKEA, Toys r Us, Kidzania, The Little Gym, KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King and The Cheesecake Factory. With Egypt’s GDP growth now hovering around 1.2% down from the pre-revolution growth of 5.6%, it seems that will be some time before all the buildings are filled however it is a good time to be securing space for brands that want to be in the market.


The evening brought a distinguished dinner bringing together VIP’s from the Egyptian Franchise Development Association, the Social Fund for Development, the U.S. Commercial Service and of course the Franchise Delegation.

After successful visits in Abu Dhabi, IFA Trade Mission Heads to Dubai



By Scott Lehr, CFE, Senior Vice President, U.S. & International Development, International Franchise Association

IFA, Franchise Times and the US Commercial Service hit the 2nd stop on the trade mission in Dubai, UAE after successful visits in Abu Dhabi the day before.


The group which included Robert Shaw from Greenberry’s Coffee, Brad Siniscalchi and Matt Ladd of Hertz Equipment Rental,  Marc Mushkin of Pollo Tropical, Rogelio Martinez of Tutor Doctor, KL Fredericks of the US Commercial Service, Nancy Weingartner of Franchise Times and Scott Lehr with IFA began the day with a briefing at the U.S. Consulate in Dubai.  Robert Bannerman and Ashok Ghosh updated the group on the economy and the opportunities available for franchisors in the market.  The group discussed Dubai’s achievement of becoming the 2nd busiest airport in the world and the opportunities that provides for the city on the world’s stage.

The exposure of U.S. Brands at the first rate malls such as the Dubai Mall complete with an Ice Skating Ring and Emirates Mall with its own indoor Ski Area allow these smart franchisors and their franchisees to reach millions of potential customers that extends their brand presence deep into the Middle East and Africa because of all the traffic flowing through Dubai today.  Their “Free Zones” are allowing companies to set up regional offices in Dubai to serve customers throughout Africa.  Mr. Bannerman stated that there are more flights to India from Dubai then from within India itself.  He also reported that U.S. exports more to UAE than to India.

The group then headed off to another full day of one-on-one visits, this time visiting the candidates at their offices in the Dubai area.  The Franchise Executives reported solid interest from the prospects.  That evening the trade mission participants met up at the Ritz Carlton in Dubai for a reception sponsored by the American Business Council of Dubai and Northern Emirates.  The group mixed with local business people and many American expats working for U.S. companies in Dubai.

Franchising is becoming big business in a smaller world.  Robert Moschorak, president and general manager of Ace International Holdings which is the international division of IFA Member, Ace Hardware, was in town meeting with the local franchisees in Dubai and reported that business for ACE in the UAE is experiencing tremendous growth!

Day two and three of the mission in Dubai brought the group to meet with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce led by Mr. Atiq Juma Faraj Nasib, senior director of the Commercial Services Sector to discuss “Doing Business in Dubai”. The Chamber is excited about working with the IFA and its member companies to grow the franchise market in Dubai.  The message was delivered loud and clear – Dubai is the perfect hub for activity and commerce in the Middle East and Africa for Franchise Brands.

The trade mission participants were than off to Dubai Airport for their flight to Cairo and the beginning of the 3rd leg of the mission in Egypt!

International Franchise Association, Franchise Times and the U.S. Commercial Service kick off first leg of the U.S. Franchise Trade Mission to the Middle East



By Scott Lehr, CFE, Senior Vice President, U.S. & International Development, International Franchise Association

The International Franchise Association, Franchise Times and the U.S. Commercial Service kicked off the first leg of the U.S. Franchise Trade Mission to the Middle East last week in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  The trade mission will include stops in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE; Cairo, Egypt; Amman, Jordan and Doha, Qatar over the next 11 days.


Trade mission participants include Greenberry’s Coffee Company represented by Robert Shaw; Hertz Equipment Rental  represented by Brad Siniscalchi and Matt Ladd; Johnny Rockets represented by Steven Devine; Pollo Tropical represented by Marc Mushkin; Tutor Doctor represented by Rogelio Martinez and Wing Zone represented by Hair Parra.  “We are pleased to be able to work with such quality franchise brands and connect them with potential candidates here in the Middle East” said Fredericks, director at the US Commercial Service.  Editor with Franchise Times and the co-sponsor of the Trade Mission Nancy Weingartner is accompanying the group also and has responsibility for promoting the trade mission both before and after and produces the mission booklet which presents the franchise companies and is used as a marketing piece to leave with candidates at each stop.


U.S. Ambassador to UAE Mr. Corbin described the vibrancy of the economy of the UAE and strong outlook for continued business success for U.S. companies and in particular the interest and demand for U.S. Franchise Brands. The franchise executives then quickly took their seats to begin a long day of one on one meetings at the Chamber with master and regional franchise prospects from the greater Abu Dhabi area.  For more than seven hours, the international franchise executives met with potential partners.  Marc Mushkin of Pollo Tropical described the day as a full on “speed dating” marathon which is a very effective way to meet the right candidates for his brand.

Division Manager of Franchise Operations for Hertz Equipment Rental, Brad Siniscalchi and his colleague Matt Ladd, General Manager of Middle East & North Africa were also pleased with their first full day of appointments.  “We met some excellent candidates today and will just have to work through the process with them to see how things develop” said Sinsicalchi.

IFA Senior Vice President, U.S. & International Development, Scott Lehr, KL Fredericks and Nancy Weingartner along with John Simmons, senior Commercial Officer and Manal El Mary, Commercial Specialist with the Abu Dhabi office of the U.S. Commercial Service met with Mohamed H. Al Muhairi of the Abu Dhabi Chamber and his team to discuss opportunities to increase the participation of U.S. Franchisors in franchising their businesses in UAE and in particular the greater Abu Dhabi area.


The full day wrapped up with an amazing sunset tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi which the trade mission participants all agreed capped off a successful start to the Middle East Trade Mission!

IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira Joins President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden for Veterans and Military Spouses Hiring Announcement




As part of the franchising industry’s support of the White House Joining Forces initiative, IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira joined President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden onstage to mark the hiring of 290,000 veterans and military spouses who have been hired or trained since the launch of the initiative in 2011.   Franchising contributed almost a quarter of this total.  Caldeira was accompanied by Tasti D-Lite CEO and IFA Hall of Famer Jim Amos, and IFA staff member Kevin Blanchard, both Marine veterans.

The First Lady and Dr. Biden noted that with the Iraq war over and the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close, more than one million service members are projected to leave the military in the next several years and transition to civilian life. And that’s on top of the hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses already out there looking for work. Hiring our veterans and military spouses will not only help them manage this transition, but shows them that our nation truly honors their service, not simply with words, but with real, concrete action that will profoundly impact their lives long after they leave the military.

The announcement reflects the building momentum within the private sector alone to hire and train veterans and military spouses.  First Lady Michelle Obama applauded the work the International Franchise Association has done to help veterans find jobs and transition back into civilian life and recognized, “the IFA has helped more than 4,300 veterans own their own businesses since 2011.”


The franchising industry, led by IFA and 562 franchised businesses that are part of IFA’s VetFran strategic initiative, were part of the first private sector commitments to the White House Joining Forces initiative on Veterans Day in 2011. IFA and its membership pledged to hire and recruit 80,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014, including 5,000 wounded warriors as team members and franchise small business owners. In the first year alone, nearly 65,000 veterans have started careers in franchising – including 4,314 as franchise business owners using discounts offered by VetFran member companies.

The franchising industry has a long-standing history of supporting veterans. In 1991, IFA launched VetFran, a strategic initiative to help Gulf War veteran’s access business ownership opportunities in franchising. In 2011, Operation Enduring Opportunity was launched to expand that initiative to include hiring.

“With the war in Iraq over and the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close and more than one million service members are projected to leave the military in the next several years, franchise businesses have realized that hiring our veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira. “With its rapid training opportunities, scalability, and need for operational execution and excellence in following proven systems, franchising provides an ideal structure to enable returning veterans to become leaders of and productive participants in the U.S. economy.”

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