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Affi: 15 Years of Filipino franchising

/ 09:15 PM September 29, 2012

For 15 years now, the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (Affi) has been the premier trade organization committed to promoting responsible micro, small and medium enterprise businesses (MSMEs) through franchising.

Composed of Filipino corporate presidents, CEOs and prominent businessmen who recognize the competitive potential of the local franchising industry in the global market, Affi promotes excellence and growth in responsible franchising by professionalizing, standardizing, and optimizing the potential of homegrown Filipino businesses.

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Celebrating its 15th year with the 11th Filipino Franchise Show on Oct. 12-14,  at the World Trade Center, Pasay City, Affi showcases “Galing ng Pinoy” in  about 300 exhibitors and franchise investment opportunities from food, retail, and service industries.

Humble beginnings

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Affi president and founding member Armando “Butz” Bartolome recalls Affi’s conception in 1997, as an effort of like-minded individuals who wanted to lend assistance to microentrepreneurs in the local franchising sector, to help them set up and grow their business. Seven companies were represented in the pioneers, including Goto King, Potato Corner, Figaro, Fiorgelato, and GMB Franchise Development.

“We saw how the needs of microentrepreneurs were vastly different from the big players,” notes Bartolome.  “The big companies talk about venture capitalism, while the MSMEs are concerned about how to make a presentation for potential franchisees. The multinationals will have an HR department with psychological tests, while the MSMEs hire relatives. The franchise chains hire an advertising firm for a massive campaign, while the MSMEs have to pool resources with other companies to take out an ad in a publication.”

Teresa Laurel, president and CEO of Goto King and Affi chair of the board notes that Affi came in at the perfect time.

“At that time, the concept of franchising was starting to catch on, and there were already franchise shows and conferences. But foreign companies got top billing, and the smaller, homegrown concepts were not able to join. As small entrepreneurs, we thought we could bind ourselves together and organize our own group, our own shows,” Laurel explains.

The group also wanted to propel Filipino entrepreneurs to world-class standards. “We wanted an organization that would promote homegrown entrepreneurs and support homegrown responsible franchisors,” adds Richie Cuna, president and CEO of Fiorgelato, and Affi executive vice president.

Then still known as the First Filipino Franchising Federation (F4), the group started to mount small expos within major trade shows, until the 5th year, when it mounted its own solo event. F4 eventually evolved into Affi, and their signature event into the Filipino Franchise Show.

Big Leaps

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The years have seen Affi grow over the years, from an initial membership of seven to over a hundred strong today. Even the members themselves have grown as companies: the fledgling homegrown businesses of the ’90s are now corporations employing thousands of Filipinos.

The support among the members is an Affi trademark, states Laurel. “We’ve helped each other overcome fears and insecurities, especially in the beginning stages, on whether you can make it as a business or as a franchiser.”

The association not only offers its members a publicly recognized seal of quality, but also the business skills and experiences of professionals in the franchising industry, up to date research and development, educational training and seminars, participation in local and international trade shows, and opportunities for networking.

“Affi offers a synergistic network of creating value out of Filipino ingenuity,” Bartolome asserts.

This synergy has proven to be beneficial, with success stories among the members’ ranks.

“Affi has developed a lot of brand names—Figaro, Lotsa Pizza, Mang Inasal, and Potato Corner—that have made their way not only across the Philippines but also worldwide,” Cuna emphasizes.

Referred to as the “sunshine industry,” the franchise industry has churned millions of dollars in investments; some brands succeeding overseas and becoming the country’s global ambassadors.

For information on the exhibit call Petco at 8325422; 8325401/22; e-mail at [email protected] or call Affi at  6540345; 8619897.

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