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Yum! Brands partners with Howard University and University of Louisville to promote women and minority leadership in food industry

Yum! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC, has announced a collaboration with Howard University for a fellowship program to help increase the amount of women and minority franchise owners.

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Yum! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC, has announced a collaboration with Howard University for a fellowship program to help increase the amount of women and minority franchise owners. 

“Yum! Brands is proud to work with both University of Louisville and Howard University on this groundbreaking partnership to train and advance underrepresented people of color and women entrepreneurs who are interested in building a career in the franchise restaurant industry,” Scott Catlett, chief legal and franchise officer of Yum Brands said on Feb. 3.

All ten candidates from Howard and University of Louisville will do a five-month fellowship while receiving scholarships, mentorships, extensive education on the franchise business model, restaurant training and a trip to Yum! Brands’ restaurant and support system. 

“So I think it is again, a great opportunity to really showcase how strong Howard University’s curriculum and students are. So this is not something that is newly created, this curriculum is there and established, partnering with us, meaning we have global leaders, future global business leaders that are produced daily here at Howard University School of Business,” Dr. Yuvay Meyers Ferguson, the assistant dean for impact and engagement at the Howard School of Business said.

“It’s really exciting to see the marriage of our schools and provide an opportunity to really showcase and provide for students,” she said. 

Each student will take part in sessions where they will learn directly from Yum! Brands executives, restaurant operators and brand franchise recruiters. The students will also work with a current Yum! Brands franchise owner who will be their mentor to help them throughout the semester-long program.

“Although I’ve never worked in the food industry before, this program has given me the understanding that these restaurants are a combination of positions and moving parts, but the most important piece is the people. This is a concept that has been expressed by many of the guest speakers, interviewees, and lecturers that we have been afforded the opportunity to hear from. We have gained a vast amount of knowledge in the short period of time that we have been meeting already,” Monique Davis, a first year online MBA student and fellowship candidate at Howard University said. 

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The students have a chance to compete in a pitch competition where two grand prize winners will receive additional training and mentorship, receive seed money and an opportunity to become a future Yum! franchise ambassador. 

“Competition is at the heart of all business environments. The pitch competition culminates the entire program and gives us all the ability to show how well we have grasped the concepts critical to become a franchise owner. The Howard cohort has become a community and we all are in constant communication to ensure we all have our best foot forward,” Charlie Coleman, a MBA student at Howard University and fellow candidate said. 

The University of Louisville is located in Yum! Brands’ hometown, and also houses their Center for Global Franchise Excellence. More than 200 students have engaged in this program since last summer. The center is the first business program at a public university to provide numerous levels of online education focused on the franchising model across industries. One of its many purposes is to focus on recruiting and educating underrepresented people of color and women on the vast possibilities of franchising and entrepreneurship. 

“Because I believe we all have a desire to continue the work that we have witnessed, I think the number of women and minority franchisees and business owners will multiply rapidly. We look forward to using our voices, new knowledge, and connections to bring opportunities to the community that otherwise may have seemed out of reach,” Davis said. 

Yum! Brands has more than 53,000 restaurants globally. The International Franchise Association estimates the franchising industry increased to over 780,000 outlets, with 8.4 million new people in the United States in 2021. 

“I am beyond elated that Howard University secured this partnership with Yum! Brands to design an accelerated path to launch my entrepreneurial venture in the food industry. The hurdle to obtaining the necessary capital to even be considered for a franchised Yum! Concept is exceptionally difficult even for the highest caliber candidate. Yum! And Howard is removing this obstacle with a focus on young hungry minorities to make what was once a dream, a real time reality,” Jessica Tarver, a MBA student at Howard University and fellowship candidate, said. 

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Copy edited: N’dia Webb


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