with the Founder
Don Franco, CEO of FAMDO, speaks candidly about FAMDO, social-issue purchasing and the new FAMDO book
Q – Why did you start FAMDO?
A – The idea of FAMDO (pronounced FAM-due) came to me while shopping for my family of six. As you can imagine, my wife and I purchase a lot of goods and services to meet our family’s needs. So, while we were supporting businesses by being loyal customers, I began to wonder if these businesses were supporting our communities. I kept thinking, ‘What if there was a company that would donate a portion of its profits toward programs aimed at strengthening the African-American community?’ I couldn’t find such a company, so I started FAMDO.
Q – What does FAMDO stand for?
A – FAMDO is an acronym which denotes ‘For All Minds Desiring Ownership.’ Empowerment for our communities, especially with black youth, is going to evolve out of ownership. So we’ll promote ownership of businesses, homes, investments, and schools in black communities. Ownership also means African Americans taking responsibility for some of our issues as well.
Q – Tell us about your background.
A – I was raised by a single mother in Linden, New Jersey. My mom and dad divorced when I was only a year old. I didn’t know my dad while growing up, so my mother, sister and I lived on and off welfare. There were some seriously tough times when we had absolutely no money. I slept in the same room with my mom and older sister until I was twelve, but was thankful to have my own bed.
Even though being poor was hard, it was the emotional pain of not having a father that hurt the most. I constantly asked myself, ‘Why does that family have a dad and I don’t? Why do they have money and we don’t? Why do they have a car and my mom doesn’t?’ But it was my mom’s guidance that motivated me to get a solid education. As a teenager, I put my mom through some trying times—including getting a girl pregnant at the age of 13 and being sent away to a boarding school in Virginia named Oak Hill Academy at the age of 14.
Later, I was fortunate enough to receive a four-year basketball scholarship from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond where I graduated with a business degree. My career has included positions in sales, marketing and training—mainly within the pharmaceutical industry.
Now I find myself on the other side of the fence with my wife of more than 27 years and our four children. My background and passion for community empowerment weighs heavily on my heart and mind daily. Yet, I believe I can use the hard-knocks of my youth coupled with my business skills to make a difference in the African-American community. And, my dad and I now have a solid relationship.
Q – FAMDO is introducing a revolutionary way of doing business to the African-American community known as social entrepreneurship or social-issue purchasing. Tell us more about this.
A – FAMDO’s agenda is to empower African-American communities for success. A big part of that empowerment involves economic strength, specifically in redefining the way African Americans spend money in this country. The social issues prevalent in our communities simply can’t be dealt with by holding another march or listening to more panel discussions.
What we’re proposing is a revolutionary way African Americans can recycle our dollars back to the community through the purchase of products and services FAMDO offers. By getting African Americans to support the company with purchases, FAMDO can develop a healthy pool of profits for giving back to non-profit organizations that are effectively empowering our communities—especially those geared toward empowering black youth. The particular non-profit organizations we will support will be based on votes that our supporters submit at www.FAMDO.com, as well as computer software that tracks our communities’ purchases.
An example of a company already operating a similar social-issue purchasing business is Newman’s Own, which sells pasta, juices, cookies and other products. Newman’s Own has given back over $300 million to select non-profit organizations since 1982. FAMDO products, for now, include clothing, books, and space on our website that will be sold to advertisers. I often say if selling toothpicks would give us a pool of profits to empower our non-profit organizations and to address our communities’ issues, we’d happily sell toothpicks. But rather than building the company on the type of products it sells, FAMDO wants to be known as a community-empowerment company.
Q – In the FAMDO books, you define black hair stylists and barbers as “local influencers” and say they are a key part of FAMDO’s strategy. Tell us a little more on why FAMDO decided to contract with them.
A – Black stylists and barbers bring so many positives to the table. First, they are business people that our youth typically look up to. Second, they often play the role of surrogate parents or, as I like to say, para-parents, to the youth in our communities. These influencers are very powerful and are appropriately positioned to partner with FAMDO to bring positive change to our communities by promoting the company’s empowerment agenda.
Q – Can you tell us about the company’s new book, “The FAMDO Way: A Social Entrepreneur’s Faithfulness”?
A – The book clearly defines FAMDO’s plan for positioning our communities for success. It describes how FAMDO will become a corporate watch dog to ensure that African Americans are being hired, promoted, and given contracts with the companies where we spend our monies. It also highlights the gross economic inequalities that continue to exist in our country and discusses how FAMDO plans to deal with these inequalities. For example, if FAMDO finds that a particular company is not maintaining a healthy number of blacks within their corporate ranks, FAMDO will lead a concerted boycott against that particular company’s products until proper representation of African Americans is attained.
The book builds upon the legacies of Dr. King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and contains some of the most important words ever written to African Americans. It has been endorsed by professor and civil-rights activist, Dr. Cornel West, sports analyst Chris Broussard, author and educator, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, and others.
Q – How can people interested in empowering black communities support FAMDO?
A – As FAMDO re-positions itself for 2014, I ask that all visitors to www.FAMDO.com view the “About Us” video, read the book’s excerpt, and purchase a copy of the book “The FAMDO Way: A Social Entrepreneur’s Faithfulness” to help get the FAMDO revolution in motion. I would also ask visitors blog with us by adding their insight to the FAMDO blog. Lastly, all visitors should check back in at least every Friday as I will update the African-American community on what our favorite brands are saying about the FAMDO plan. And the bounus would be: have me come and speak to your local church, organization, or universitiy.
Q – In closing, what’s the main point you’d like people to take away from this opportunity to learn about FAMDO?
A – I want people to know this in particular: In order for us to be what we’ve never been, we need to do what we’ve never done before. While FAMDO offers a totally different way of dealing with issues affecting the African-American community, this do-for-self plan is especially designed to meet the needs of our youth, our families, and our communities.
To view FAMDO’s “About Us” video click on the following link:
To read an excerpt from “The FAMDO Way: A Social Entrepreneur’s Faithfulness,” click on the following link:
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