But Why Buy, Create Your Own Franchise!
How Ruth Agbaji started Code Wiz with SBA counseling and capital
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Economic Census, there are over 300 different types of franchise businesses in America – contributing significantly to the fabric of our main streets. The importance of franchising, particularly in the food service industry is highly impactful. An estimated 122,042 franchise restaurants make up approximately 54% of all fast-food restaurants and contributes to about 73% of all fast-food restaurant employment.
In industries other than food service, the data also revealed that franchise ownership was associated with a higher percentage of sales and a higher annual payroll per employee in those businesses – compared with the industry average.
Sitting in a counseling session at 125 Woodland Street at the Clark University-based Small Business Development Center – Ruth Agbaji was exploring the possibility of purchasing a STEM education franchise business focusing on coding.
“But Ruth, why exactly do you need to buy this franchise,” said SBDC Counselor Paula Camara. “Why can’t you just do this on your own?”
That was the moment when Ruth gained the confidence to say to herself, “Wait you’re right!”
You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes
Back in northern Nigeria where Ruth grew up, resources weren’t abundant – it was a place where she used to walk miles just to get drinking water; but still she taught herself how to code.
Through public assistance, Agbaji’s mother was able to receive a free laptop for Ruth and the rest was history.
Ruth was a self-motivated individual, self-taught, and always sought out information to teach herself how to code. While at Ahmadu Bello University as an undergraduate student, she developed an application for her department which would allow teachers to administer tests online. Since typical class size ratios are usually up to a thousand students for each teacher, her solution would save teachers’ time and improve their efficiency. She eventually made the app development her final year project, but that experience really gave her the unique experience that supported her creation of Code Wiz.
Surviving to thriving through COVID-19
After starting a family and trying to find work-life balance working full-time, rigid schedules and lack of flexibility motivated Ruth to take the leap in 2017 and open Code Wiz.
Working with SBA approved lenders Middlesex Savings Bank and Northern Bank, Ruth received a small 7(a) guaranteed loan first to start the business and later received a larger 7(a) loan to expand into franchising. Prior to getting approved for the loans, Ruth received mentoring and business plan creation assistance from the SBDC and Center for Women & Enterprise offices based in Central Massachusetts.
Today, Code Wiz did go through some rough spots when COVID-19 shut down all of her learning centers, but it turned out to also be a blessing. Code Wiz has since gained remote learners from all over the world from Switzerland, to Canada, to California.
Ruth Agbaji was named the 2020 SBA Woman Owned Business of the Year for Massachusetts.
Disclaimer: The SBA does not endorse the organizations sponsoring linked websites and does not endorse the views they express or the products/services they offer.
(photo credit: Office of Congresswoman Lori Trahan)