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Franchising aids rural empowerment

By Ramanjit Kaur Feature Writer

With the mission to reach out to the remotest corner of India and promote Information and Computer Technology (ICT) training to empower the youth, AISECT has successfully transformed the lives of over one million students. In an interview, Santosh K Choubey, Chairman and Managing Director, AISECT Ltd shares the successful journey of his company.

Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Could you please shed some light on the origin, growth and success of AISECT?

Santosh K Choubey (SKC): AISECT was initially an idealistic decision. With the Indian market focusing on software exports, we thought of domestic use of software and IT to empower the people. Now, we are a 25-year old organisation that has generated employment for about 25,000 people. AISECT has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Indian Innovation Award, the Golden Icon National e-Governance Award, the NASSCOM IT Innovation Award and Asian Forum i4D Award. Recently, AISECT also won the NASSCOM EMERGE 50 Leader Award, by which NASSCOM adjudged AISECT as one of the top 10 emerging organisations in the country and the TIE Lumis Partners Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for a sustainable and scalable business model.

RK: What inspired AISECT to take the franchise route to expand the brand in India?

SKC: For any company to be successful on a pan-India basis, it is important to have a mass appeal and well accepted by the local communities across all states. This becomes especially important for companies working in semi-urban and rural areas where new concept takes time to connect with the masses. Therefore, we decided to take the franchise route to reach out to the remotest corner in India and make IT training, education, and services available through the AISECT network.

RK: What is the USP of AISECT? How it is different from other players in the sector?

SKC: AISECT today is virtually the strongest national level player in the business of training across semi-urban and rural India, covering district, block and panchayat-levels. With over 100 per cent ROI in the first year of setting up the business and a minimum initial investment required, an AISECT franchise is one of the most rewarding franchising options an entrepreneur can choose.

RK: What kind of background is necessary to secure the franchise of your company?

SKC: On an average, an AISECT franchisee must be a graduate between 20-30 years of age, and should have keen interest in entrepreneurship and running a training business.

RK: What kind of training and support does a franchisee get after partnering with your company?

SKC: Once a franchisee is registered within the AISECT network, we support him through course content, faculty training programmes, corporate and university tie ups, year round advertising, PR support, and assistance in student placements. Apart from this, he needs to undergo a training session by authorised AISECT trainers. His faculty list with qualifications is also checked to ensure the appointment of the right faculty.

RK: How many franchised centres do you presently have? What are your future target locations to expand?

SKC: We have 8200 centers at present, 10 centers are company owned and the rest are franchised. The AISECT model has traditionally been designed to cater to the students in semi-urban and rural India. We do not focus on the large metros and cities; rather we aim at strengthening our presence and penetration in towns, districts and blocks.

RK: Any advice for the young entrepreneurs?

SKC: You must enjoy whatever you are doing. If you enjoy your work, the rest follows. Also, always trust your instinct. I started AISECT against popular advice just on the basis of my gut feeling and my belief in the concept of rural empowerment. The success and recognition that our business model has seen over the years is testimony of the fact that I was not wrong in choosing this path. So, listen to what others have to say but always do what you feel is right.

RK: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?

SKC: The company plans to set up 1600 centers across Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra by mid-2011.We are aiming at targeting 15,000 AISECT centres by the end of 2012 pan India and also have international expansion plans in the pipeline.

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