Hand-rolled, richly flavored labneh with locally-pressed olive oil, sweet and tangy pomegranate molasses made from ripe pomegranates, and makdous—pickled baby eggplants stuffed with walnuts, peppers and garlic—are just some of the handmade local delicacies offered by Kama Local Gourmet, a woman-owned Jordanian company established in 2016. Since its launch, Kama has become one of the best known Jordanian artisanal brands that supports local communities and sources most of its products from women who use recipes passed down through generations. However, with more demand growing for its products, Kama faced challenges with ensuring that its suppliers can reliably fulfil larger orders and at short notice.
Additionally, Kama found that the number of local suppliers that met its strict quality standards was quite low. As a growing business, this meant that it had to find other solutions to be able to scale up while still preserving the artisanal spirit of the brand.The company approached the USAID Jordan Local Enterprise Support Project (LENS) for support in establishing a supply-side micro-franchise model where all locally-sourced food items are supplied through a network of approved micro-franchisees, including pre-trained and licensed home-based businesses in remote, underserved regions.
Micro-franchising—which operates on a much smaller scale than traditional franchising and with lower fees—is not prevalent in Jordan, even though Jordan’s GDP, economy and country infrastructure are much more developed than in other places where micro-franchising is today thriving. In this regard, USAID LENS has been supporting several lead firms in Jordan, including Kama, to launch pilot projects that can test the validity of the micro-franchising model in the local Jordanian context.
For Kama, this seems to be an effective approach:
“By applying this model, Kama has locked its supply chain, so we don’t have to go through the hassle of outsourcing companies for each order, and most importantly it ensures consistency in the quality of products we offer to customers.” says Jumana Jacir, the founder and CEO of Kama.
Kama’s micro-franchising model offers local women the opportunity to utilize their skills and become business owners without the risks associated with entrepreneurship, such as securing funding,distribution and brand recognition.
Through this mechanism Kama signed micro-franchising agreements with eleven micro-franchisees from East Amman (in the underserved Al Muqablain area), where they can work according to Kama’s production needs and their own schedules, receiving payment based on the goods they produce. For many women who choose not to work in a traditional full-time job with a set number of hours (whether due to family responsibilities, transportation limitations or personal preferences), the added flexibility is a huge plus.
“I’m grateful to have found this flexible work opportunity, as it gives me time to attend to my family, in addition to having a source of income that helps me repay the loan I took to buy a new home,” says Nayfeh Noufal, one of the micro-franchisees.
Kama micro-franchisees received comprehensive training on everything from the recipes themselves to hygiene, food safety protocols, standard operating procedures, research and development capabilities, and equipment specifications, all monitored through rigid quality assurance measures.
Rabea Tahrawi a resident of Al Muqablain, where the production kitchen was established, is the only full-time employee.
“This job is a dream come true; my passion is working with food, and to have found a job close to my home and that also provides decent income and benefits is just wonderful.” Rabea’s responsibilities include coordinating with the other franchisees the production schedule, in addition to managing the kitchen supplies and orders.
This is only the start of Kama’s micro-franchising approach. Once the system is ready for scalability, Kama plans to include more women from across Jordan. This not only assures Kama’s commitment to keep sourcing its products from local communities, it also gives women the opportunity to earn income and receive comprehensive training that will upgrade their food-processing skills and enable them to produce higher quality products.