FIP 51: Social Franchising Series 4/4 Franchising in Nairobi with CJ Bak

Christopher Bak, also known as CJ, is Co-founder of Liberty Eagle African Holdings, owner of several commercial franchises operating in Kenya. CJ and his co-founder joined forces to use their collective knowledge of retail, finance and emerging markets in Asia and Africa, to launch multiple consumer-facing retail operations that are attached to notorious Western brands. Today’s episode isn’t about the brands that CJ and his co-founder brought to the market, but rather diving into some of the who’s and how’s of their experience.

In today’s episode, you’ll learn more about:

  • CJ’s experience in Africa prior to becoming a franchisee and how that shaped his understanding of the existing market opportunity.
  • How CJ met his co-founder, and the complementarities between their professional skills and experiences in different regional markets.
  • The origin story behind their early franchises and how they grew from the Tanzanian to the Kenyan market.
  • Comparing different types of international franchises, including how they differ based on their region of origin, growth strategy, and public versus private ownership. We also gain some insight into the effect of franchisors having regional offices and whether that has been to the benefit of franchisees or not.
  • CJ differentiates between a brand that is ready for a market versus when a market is ready for that brand, using evidence from supply chain, regulatory and retail price perspectives.
  • The particular challenge for food service franchises to access inputs whose quality standards are high enough for the brand and affordable enough for the franchisee to earn a margin and not price themselves out of the market.
  • The downside: when brands need to close their franchises due to non-conformity among franchisees, and why that might happen.
  • Why the Kenyan market has experienced significant growth in franchises owned by non-natives, and what local entrepreneurs would need to get in the game.

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