FranCounsel Group Introducing Franchising to Developing World

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FranCounsel Group has been selected by the U.S. Department of Commerce to introduce franchising to Tunisia and the Middle East in the wake of the "Arab Spring."

Tunisian delegation with Bachir Mihoubi at Domino's Pizza location in Paris

Tunisia is now open for business

Bachir Mihoubi, an international expert in franchising and CEO of FranCounsel Group, has been assisting the U.S. Department of Commerce as an expert-in-residence in introducing the franchising model to Tunisia. Bachir Mihoubi , who is fluent in French , English and Arabic, and born in Algeria, made it easy to bridge the cultural gap between the U.S. and Tunisia.

Recently, FranCounsel Group organized a franchising workshop for Tunisian executives and government officials in Paris. The workshop coincided with the Paris Franchise Expo which took place March 20-25, 2014. The program was funded by the Commercial Law Development Program of the U.S. Department of Commerce.The aim of the conference was to inform the participants about the importance of franchising and the economic impact in terms of entrepreneurship and job creation.

FranCounsel Group has been leading workshops on franchising for Tunisians beginning in 2009, when the Tunisian Minister of Commerce planned to issue the new regulation for a law governing franchising which allows international franchises to operate in Tunisia. Most importantly, royalty repatriation, which was a big hurdle for international franchisors, was finally permitted by the Central Bank. Before 2009, Tunisia did not allow for the repatriation of the royalty fees by franchisors. Bachir Mihoubi and FranCounsel Group have been involved in this initiative for the last five years and worked hard to develop the first-ever Tunisian Chamber of Commerce Franchise Show.

FranCounsel Group acted as advisors to the Tunisian attorneys in charge of drafting the 2010 franchise regulation. Thanks to Bachir Mihoubi’s legal background, the meeting turned into a question-and-answer session about worldwide franchising regulations. At the time, the Minister of Commerce officials admitted they were concerned about the unequal relationship between franchisors and franchisees, and worried about foreign brands overwhelming the Tunisian retail sector. At the time, the Tunisian attorneys were borrowing concepts from European regulations and were contemplating using Saudi model franchising contracts. Bachir Mihoubi cautioned the Tunisians against overregulating, especially in such a small market as Tunisia, as it would discourage franchisors from expanding into the country. Bachir Mihoubi and FranCounsel Group met with Tunisian entrepreneurship organizations and bankers, attorneys and executives from small- and medium sized companies. All these initiatives were actively covered by the local media, and garnered positive coverage of the franchising issue, and Bachir Mihoubi recently wrote an article on the subject for the International Journal of Franchising Law.

Over the last five years, the U.S. Embassy in Tunis has organized several meetings between Bachir Mihoubi, FranCounsel Group and representatives from the Center for Young Entreprenuers, members of the National Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs and the Bank of Small and Medium Enterprises. While most of the discussions centered on the basics of franchising, these representatives were ultimately convinced to direct lending to franchises because they considered them less risky than regular start-ups. Since then, FranCounsel Group has conducted additional workshops on franchising in Washington, D.C. and New York to further inculcate the franchising model. Bachir Mihoubi’s ability to connect with the Tunisian audience helped drive home the message that bringing franchises to Tunisia will create jobs, stimulate technology transfer, and help cement the culture of franchising which would lead Tunisian companies to create local franchise concepts.

The U.S.-Tunisian franchise initiatives have been so successful that the U.S. Department of Commerce has asked FranCounsel Group to conduct franchise workshops in Iraq, Georgia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The next workshop will take place in New York City in June, and will involve executives from Pakistan, Georgia and Iraq.

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Bachir Mihoubi
FranCounsel Group
+1 404-384-3317
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