Unsafe sex is one of the top and fastest growing health risks for millions of young people globally, leaving them vulnerable to many health risks, including HIV/AIDs and unwanted pregnancies. It particularly affects those most vulnerable and living in the poorest countries.
Dance4Life is determined to change this for good by empowering young people, providing them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to protect their health, and promoting safe sexual choices. Dance4Life’s programming leads to increased self-confidence and improved gender attitudes and sexual behavior among the young people who engage with the program.
Between 2003 and 2016, Dance4Life had created 1 million agents4change graduates of their program across 18 countries; but with 1.8 billion young people on the planet, Dance4Life were eager to scale to address the size of the problem.
Dance4Life’s previous model was limiting their ability to scale impact and maintain quality across a global network. At the time, Dance4Life delivered their program through local implementers, who adapted Dance4Life’s course content to the most pressing sexual health rights issues and cultural context of the local environment. These implementers relied substantially on the Dance4Life headquarters in Amsterdam to deliver and evaluate the program, as well as provide financial support, making it challenging to replicate widely. In addition, local implementers held country-wide exclusivity, but not all were ready to scale delivery of the program across the country. This meant that few implementers were reaching significant scale within their own countries.
Dance4Life partnered with Spring Impact in 2016 to develop a social franchising model that would enable them to sustain and deepen their impact in existing countries, and scale their impact in new countries. We concluded that a social franchising model would best serve Dance4Life’s desires. For example, ensuring quality outcomes are maintained across the global network, allowing partners to retain autonomy and fundraising responsibilities, and providing compelling value to high caliber local partners that could bring more capacity and local expertise to implementing the program at scale.
Spring Impact helped Dance4Life define its value proposition based on the robust evidence of the Dance4Life model’s effectiveness. We also co-developed an intensive recruitment process to find and train the right partners. The goal was to “recruit hard, train well, and manage easy,” providing comprehensive training and materials at the start and establishing a global learning network among franchisees, ultimately allowing the central Dance4Life team to remain lean even as the network grows.
We then helped Dance4Life to develop the key documents, systems and processes required to implement the model and transition the existing network of local partners in an inclusive and collaborative way. We took into account how Dance4Life may need to change their organizational mindset and behaviors in order to shift their strategy. The team later cited this support as critical to being able to deliver their scale goals:
“The systems and documentation is a really strong part of our offer. We have everything well systemized, and a good online delivery tool. Spring Impact really supported us to achieve that.”
Action and Impact
Dance4Life now have a robust structure for their international social franchise model and have implemented it with both new and existing partners. They have now reached 103,027 young people with their Journey4Life program, and a network of 11 franchisees in 11 countries—9 of which were up and running by 2018.
To further sharpen their offer and strengthen the scale, expertise, and reach of their franchise model, Dance4Life merged with Rutgers in 2021, where they continue to act as a separate brand and partnership model within the larger organization.