Empowering Voices: Celebrating Black Excellence at Neighborly

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More than 3.5 million small businesses are owned by Black business owners, a number that only continues to increase each year. A driving force behind this surge is the growth of the franchising sector, which helps to create pathways for aspiring Black entrepreneurs to start their businesses. 

In honor of Black History Month, we’re honoring the strides made by the Black business community and looking ahead to creating further avenues to expand business ownership opportunities. And what better way to celebrate Black Excellence than by highlighting one of Neighborly’s franchise owners who have helped pave the way.


The Story of Cynthia Williams

Cynthia Williams, the owner of Molly Maid of Winder and Athens, GA, a Neighborly company, stands as an inspiring example of the opportunities that franchising can unlock.

After graduating from the University of South Carolina, Cynthia’s career began in the United States Marine Corps, where she honorably served for 10 years before retiring at the rank of Major. She went on to work in a corporate career, but had always been intrigued by entrepreneurship. When she realized the skills and leadership qualities she learned in the military could be applied to running a business, she decided to take the leap and open her Molly Maid, recognizing franchising with Neighborly as the optimal route to kickstart her journey as a business owner.

Cynthia emphasizes the value of franchising, stating, “I chose franchising because I felt that getting started with a system and processes in place would be a great benefit to me as a new business owner. I liked the concept and felt assured that I would get support from the home office and the Franchise Business Council.” Now more than a decade after opening her Molly Maid, Cynthia continues to grow the business and find fulfillment in franchising.

Her successful venture is a testament to her hard work backed by the resources and support both the franchise system and Neighborly provide. Aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those venturing into franchising, benefit tremendously from a network of support and the guidance of mentors who have navigated similar paths.

Cynthia echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of connecting with someone familiar with both business ownership and the intricacies of the franchise model. “While researching different franchises, Molly Maid and Neighborly stuck out to me because of the communication,” she shares. “Speaking to owners of Molly Maid, I could see the possibilities for myself as a Molly Maid owner.”


Joining a Supportive Network

A common adage in franchising is that you go into business for yourself, but not by yourself. Neighborly is dedicated to championing diversity and providing a supportive ecosystem where every entrepreneur can thrive.

We have implemented initiatives to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within our network. Our DEI Course Club is designed to educate team members on workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion, providing a platform for open discussions and shared perspectives. Additionally, our monthly newsletter ensures continuous learning about various holidays, observances, and awareness months.

We aim to increase diversity recruitment in franchise development through targeted events and diversity incentive programs. These initiatives offer our network access to successful mentors and guidance to navigate their entrepreneurial journey.


Creating Opportunity Through Franchising

In my goal to expand opportunities for other Black entrepreneurs to start their own businesses, I am proud to be a part of Neighborly’s DEI committee and represent our brand on the Black Franchise Leadership Council with the IFA. Through these committees, our work centers on setting long-term DEI strategy through awareness and education, workforce and recruiting, and culture and connection.  

I am passionate about creating additional avenues and awareness for aspiring business owners in the Black community. I frequently represent Neighborly in the IFA Open for Opportunity events on panels and webinars aimed at promoting franchising in the African American community. Furthermore, I also partnered with the Dallas Mayor’s Franchise Initiative focusing on franchise and business ownership in African American communities of Dallas.

While there has no doubt been significant progress, the Black community still only makes up about 8% of franchise owners, and just 4.7% of non-franchised businesses. In my work, I am committed to furthering opportunities at Neighborly and within the franchising industry as a whole to help more people, like Cynthia Williams, to achieve their entrepreneurial goals.


Written By Brian Woods, Group VP, Franchise Development, Neighborly on LinkedIn

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