“We have courage and are unafraid. With the prayerful cooperation of millions of our bag contributors and of our workers, we will press on till the curse of poverty and exploitation is banished from mankind.” Dr. Helm, Founder of Goodwill.

This is a story of how one idea grew into an impactful reality: how an internationally known social franchise concept has been brought to and applied in Finland. 

Goodwill Industries International, Inc. – dignity and quality of life through learning and the power of work

Goodwill is an internationally known brand – a network of affiliates and stores that work to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work. Goodwills claim meet the needs of all job seekers, including programs for youth, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, criminal backgrounds and other specialized needs.

Claims seem not only to be talk – In 2017, Goodwill International Inc reported to have helped more than 288,000 people train for careers. In addition to the impressive results, Goodwill has also been ranked among the top five brands that inspired consumers the most with its mission in the Brand World Value Index for the past three years (2018 Brand World Value Index).


The Goodwill Network – global and local reach by social franchising

Goodwill network consists of 162 independent, local Goodwills in the United States and Canada. Outside the “home territory”, it currently has a presence in 13 countries, with 13 partner organizations around the world who call themselves Goodwill. According to Goodwill International, each of the country-local organizations has worked diligently to create opportunities for people with disabilities and has their own story to tell. As Goodwills are independent organizations governed by a voluntary board of local directors, each considers its country’s unique social and economic climate when developing programs and services.

Goodwill inspires us to see the benefits of a social franchising model. Social franchising in general refers to the application of the principles of commercial franchising to promote social benefit rather than private profit. In a social franchise, a contractual relationship is established, wherein an independent coordinating organization offers individual independent operators the ability to join into a franchise network for the provision of selected services over a specified area in accordance with an overall blueprint devised by the franchisor.

Once joining the network, operators are usually given the right to employ previously tested incentives such as professional training, use of brands or brand advertisements, subsidized or proprietary supplies and equipment, support services, and access to professional advice. Members also often gain beneficial spin-off effects such as increased consumer volume and improved reputation due to brand affiliation.

According to general social franchise model, franchisees must adhere to a range of requirements including: providing socially beneficial services, meeting quality and pricing standards, undergoing mandatory education on provision of services, subjecting outlets to quality assurance mechanisms, reporting service and sales statistics, and occasionally, paying fixed or profit-share fees.


Goodwill Finland – from inspiration to action


It was in 2012 that we were – as part of a project Social Enterprise Living Lab (a project funded partly by European Social Fund) looking for inspirational social franchise models around the world. A colleague of mine sent a link to the Goodwill International website and after checking it I said to him: “this is something we need to bring to Finland!”. Luckily, my colleague is a man of fast and vast action, and a few months later he came back to me and said: “Now, together with a partner from Sotek Foundation, we’ve booked a flight to US. We are going to meet the Goodwill board!”.

How cool is that? Well, to me, looking back, it has over the years been an inspiration and a fantastic realization of the fact that the smallest of ideas can grow into something very powerful that has a positive impact on many people’s lives.


SOTEK and the founding of Goodwill Suomi (Goodwill Finland)

Sotek Foundation has been established in 2004 and provides job training and placement services for people with disabilities and others with challenges to employment in Finland. so, in 2013, Sotek visited the United States to see a Goodwill store for the first time. Sotek was operating two thrift stores, and envisioned expanding the organization by improving their donated goods retail social enterprise to provide more workforce development and employment placement services for individuals in their community.

After visiting a Goodwill store, Sotek leaders decided to work with Goodwill to expand and grow their social enterprise with Goodwill’s strong brand and expertise in donated goods retail. Sotek became a Goodwill partner organization in 2014 and launched Goodwill Suomi (Goodwill Finland).


Goodwill Finland Stores in action


Goodwil Stores Finland

Since 2014, Goodwill Suomi has opened  4 Goodwill stores and a webshop under the Goodwill brand.  They have worked diligently towards building a network of Goodwill stores around Finland. The first 4 stores are located in the South-Eastern part of Finland in Hamina, Karhula, Kotka and Porvoo. Plans exist to broaden the store network throughout whole Finland.

During the first 4 years of cooperation, the Goodwill concept has been thoroughly studied by Sotek and it’s partners, and an investigation as to how to best apply it in Finland conducted. As the Finnish laws and regulatory climate differs of that of US, the concept has been localized to maximize local market impact.


Results and impact

The partnership with Goodwill International has not only expanded Sotek’s mission but also increased operational employees by 45 percent, and connected 83 percent more people with jobs through partnerships with local employers.

The story continues. More on the actual steps taken, the challenges and opportunities faced, and experiences of the social franchising partnership will be described in part 2 of the story in the fall 2018. The voice is then given to the “action team” and board of directors of Goodwill Finland.    


Further information:

Goodwill International

Sotek Foundation

A short animation on the concept on Youtube (in Finnish, but you can get an idea also when just seeing the clip!)

Goodwill Suomi

What is social franchising? (in Wikipedia)