Avant Homecare founder Sally Graham and her franchisee network are speaking out about diversity in franchising.
"Our most recent franchisee recruits have all been from BAME backgrounds. We remain committed to providing equal opportunities to everyone, no matter the colour of their skin," says Sally. "Our inclusive recruitment policies mean that our franchisees and staff reflect the communities that we work in."
Avant's newest franchisee is Jacqueline Green, who invested during the COVID-19 global pandemic and will launch her East Sussex business later this year.
"Health and social care has always been in my veins," says Jacqueline, whose parents came to the UK from Jamaica around the same time as the Empire Windrush sailed to Britain from the Caribbean.
“I wanted to do something practical about social inequality and injustice," says Jacqueline, who studied Health Studies and Social Policy at Middlesex University, and then worked for local authorities as an assistant social worker before becoming a recruiter within a private homecare franchise.
Jacqueline says: "I'm inspired by Mary Seacole, the Jamaican-born nurse who went from London to the Crimea to nurse British soldiers during the Crimean War in the 1850s. At the time she was as well-known as Florence Nightingale”. After 100 years lost to history, Mary Seacole was voted The Greatest Black Briton in 2004 and a statue of her was unveiled at St Thomas' Hospital in 2016.
"The company I formed to run my Avant Franchise is called Seacole Services, to commemorate Mary," says Jacqueline. "I chose Avant as I found Sally’s achievements with homecare franchises a remarkable accomplishment, and it offered a professional, proven business model. Avant’s values matched my beliefs."
Meanwhile Mercy Obovu is looking forward to launching her Avant franchise in Bromley soon, inspired by her mum Eunice, who ran a restaurant in her native Nigeria. "Mum often gave away food to people who couldn't afford it. I remember one little boy of about nine, whose parents had very little money, so he was always hungry. Eventually he ran away from home, and later went to the USA and became a medical doctor.
"Years later he found my mum and told her: 'If it wasn't for you I would have starved as a child.'"
Mercy says: "I know my franchise will be a success with the help of Avant. I still miss mum but when I think about why I am doing this, it makes me happy."
Sally says: "It's inspiration like this that motivates our franchisees to make a practical difference to our society, and at Avant we welcome them, whatever their background."