The Global Health Group believes that the private sector—from corporate financiers, to private drug outlets, to branded networks of private providers—represent a critical untapped source of innovation, resources and capacity to strengthen health services. Yet their potential is not well understood, and policies and programs to leverage private providers in support of public health goals are nearly non-existent.
Social franchises are networks of private health providers that use commercial franchising methods to achieve social rather than financial goals. Building upon existing expertise in poor communities, social franchises organize multiple, existing, private providers into contractually obligated networks. These franchisees are then trained and supported to provide new, or improved, services in addition to their normal patient treatment regimens. The goals of social franchising are to improve quality, increase access to care, expand the affordability of services and rapidly increase the number of delivery points for important public health services. Over 50 social franchises now provide health services in developing countries worldwide. Both for-profit and non-profit organizations run social franchises and offer services ranging from family planning and HIV/AIDS testing, to tuberculosis treatment and the provision of safe deliveries.