BUSINESSES FOR AMERICA "THE VIRTUAL FRANCHISE"
David Pittman, T.O.P.
[Ed. note: In the encyclical "Centesimus Annus", the Holy Father asks us to forget about relying on governments to provide us with our needs. With the Virtual Franchise project, which is implemented today by Share Inc., Share-Net Technologies and Share-Net Water Services, needs for products, services and jobs are being met without government intervention. The concept combines a good dose of solidarity, but also of subsidiary and a solid profit-motive. It also relies on a Catholic-driven process of personal and business integrity checks essential to the success of service-based businesses. It provides a business system that works and, in this first instance of operation, offers a much needed water purification service to consumers which is expected to translate into a booming business.

The worker benefits from a genuine sense of dignity who can control his working conditions to a great degree, own his own enterprise, provide quality and completeness of services he could not under any other system. A semi-skilled worker can own a business without worrying about the legal and accounting ends of the business which are designed for him through the franchise.

As the president of the Saint Antoninus Institute, I support the initiative of David Pittman, a fellow Third Order Dominican and an able, energetic, innovative and God-loving engineer and am proud to be on the board of Share Inc., the Catholic non-profit organization which organizes the different "virtual franchises". I also call on any person in leadership position, in the world or in the Church to help promote this initiative.

Persons interested to invest in franchises, personally look for a job, promote jobs in their communities, translate a business idea into a franchise, etc. are invited to email David Pittman at; sharenet.david@gmail.com

The "Virtual Corporation" is a new business concept which is touted as the alternative to large unwieldy corporations. This business concept advocates small businesses networking together into joint ventures to accomplish specific projects or tasks. After the projects are complete, the businesses disband and form new alliances for other projects. The virtual corporations has a lot of flexibility for fast-track projects and can operate at very low overhead. Although this mode of business generally lends itself to highly educated, white-collar entrepreneurs, it generally fails to provide ample business opportunities for the majority of skilled and unskilled blue-collar workers.

The "Virtual Franchise" business model, on the other hand, operates in a similar fashion, but provides more opportunities for blue-collar and semi-skilled workers. In this approach, small businesses, often run by one person, agree to work together in joint ventures to accomplish cooperative purchasing, marketing and product development. The virtual franchise is a unique and appealing business concept because it provides a legal means for like, and sometimes unlike, businesses to join in cooperation instead of competition.

Franchising is based upon developing and perfecting a product or service which is needed by a large number of people. The franchisor provides essential modes of operation and some assurance of success to the franchisee, however, in most cases, a sizeable franchise fee is required in advance of operation. In the case of virtual franchise, this burden of franchise fee is reduced as a result of a team of businesses sharing their own expertise, experience, and ingenuity towards the mutual success of each business. This mode of operation also provides a great measure of personal satisfaction with the sharing and fraternal spirit of the network.

The virtual franchise business operates at three levels. At the top is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation which licenses all "for-profit" businesses and receives franchise royalty fees from them. A large portion of these royalty fees are used by the charitable corporation to help finance education and job training for specific career opportunities.

At the second level is a network of entrepreneurial for-profit businesses which operate commercial locations (hubs) with each city or county. The micro-businesses act, in many respects, as a franchisor. They each provide support services for approximately 12 home-based franchises (spokes). These "acting franchisors" are licensed by the non-profit foundation and form their own common national network. At the third level is the network of home-based businesses (spokes). These are franchises who are also licensed by the non-profit foundation. These are generally individuals who want to be self-employed but enjoy working in a team and prefer the support services offered by a franchisor.

Each acting franchisor and franchisee, in this hub-and-spoke arrangement have exclusive zip-code territories and proprietary products. Each owns his/her own assets. They can purchase cooperatively and market their products and services by pooling their advertising budgets.

The first working model of the virtual franchise concept is the Share-Net business system, which includes Share, Inc., Share-Net Technologies, and Share-Net Water Services Company. Share, Inc. is the licensor/franchisor which provides the license agreements and receives the royalty fees. Share, Inc. is a Catholic lay non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Maryland in 1987.

Share-Net (R) is the national registered trademark-service mark owned by Share, Inc. This service mark identifies a family of acting franchisors and franchisees from many different fields of business.

Share-Net Technologies, a for-profit business, functions to coordinate the development of technology, products and businesses for the Share-Net network.

Share-Net Water Services specializes in drinking-water purification using modern carbon filtered distillation technology. This distillation technology is projected to boom because of the dismal condition of the majority of our nation's aging underground piping distribution infrastructures and the growing demand for bacteria free healthful water.

A Share-Net air purification business is currently under the research and development phases. The safest and best technologies are reviewed, evaluated and tested before the launching of each franchise.

The Share-Net business plan provides an organized and supportive procedure for transition into self-employment. Individuals with no experience or training can work their way up the ladder into ownership. Cash-poor individuals can start up as an independent distributor/salesperson and earn enough sales commissions to pay for the start-up costs of their own franchise. This start-up trial period lasts between one and two years and also helps in the pre-qualifying of each potential franchises.

In the case of the Share-Net Water Services franchise, the projected start-up package cost is approximately $1,000 each. National demographic and zip-code studies show a potential market for approximately 10,000 franchises nationwide. At $1,000 each, 10,000 franchises will generate $10,000,000 in revenue. This income provides revenue to finance scientists, engineers and business entrepreneurs to develop products and provide training programs for various franchises.

Share-Net Technologies is working with the Catholic Association of Scientists and Engineers and the St. Antoninus Institute to promulgate and bring to fruition this ambitious "Businesses for America" program.

Program File 6/3a
St. Antoninus Institute


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