The EcoPort Foundation
Why has the Foundation adopted a franchising strategy?
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Questions, comments and suggestions: t.putter@ecoport.org

The central, communal EcoPort database will provide, and serve as, a shared infrastructure that can be used to offer many 'virtual' sub-databases without any of these sub-services having to install, create, manage or sustain any hardware and software components or services. Effectively, this will amount to a significant cost-saving to such 'satellite' projects and programmes. Since the shared, central system and service will incur expenses, the adopted franchising strategy will enable the Foundation, selectively, to earn revenue to contribute towards covering its operating costs.

Much as an overall shopping mall provides cross-enterpise services, such as a common parking area, air-conditioning and many other overall services, for which individual tenants in the mall pay rent, so too would the central EcoPort IT infrastructure serve a cross-cutting, communal purpose, and, instead of 'rent' the Foundation's franchising approach will be used.

Franchising agreements do more than just cover material issues such as cost- and facility-sharing. They also guide and prescribe how many aspects of 'branding' products and services will be handled to ensure common ethical standards, quality control, and many similar issues and aspects. Thus, for an EcoPort affiliated virtual database to use and benefit from the communal central system and service, a franchising agreement would serve to set parameters on how the EcoPort brand, and vitally the inferred patronage of Nelson Mandela would be 'used'.

Any project or sub-programme; any virtual database, offered 'locally' as an EcoPort 'satellite', automatically inherits the branding identity and responsibilities of the global concept, and such matters will be dealt with by adopting a franchising model, or, where appropriate, suitable, standard Letters of Agreement (LoA) or Cooperation Agreements (CA).

Franchising as a concept and model, simply offers a standard and well-known economic instrument that is more standard across counties than a case-by-case contract in the form of a LoA or a CA, but the Foundation will be flexible on this issue as it will be on all matters that require consensual negotiation and agreement.