Prosper Overseas is an overseas education consultancy committed to the cause of promoting quality education among students aspiring to study abroad. In an interview Naved Saigal, Corporate Managing Director, Prosper Overseas shares the inception and aspirations of the company.
Abha Garyali (AG): Tell us something about the origin, growth and success of ‘Prosper Overseas’.
Naved Saigal (NS): Prosper Overseas was started in the year 2001 when there was not much awareness and opportunities for students to go overseas for studying. The global competition and a boom in the Indian economy for skilled workers led to many students wanting to go abroad to get global exposure and education. We tapped this opportunity and provided quality services to students in processing their documents and getting admissions. Soon the number of students going overseas every year through us increased and so were the number of universities that tied up with us directly. Today, we have around 500+ universities/colleges in eight countries with 180 to 200 alone in USA.
AG: When did you start franchising? From where did you get the inspiration to opt for franchising as a mode of expansion?
NS: We started franchising in the year 2005, but were only looking to expand within the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP). The demand for foreign education increased tremendously from 2002 in the state of AP. Since we had a lot of university representation in USA we thought of setting up franchises in AP.
AG: What is the USP of Prosper Overseas? How is it different from other educational institutes?
NS: We are one of the few and leading consultancies, when it comes to university representation. We have around 200 universities alone in USA which is our strongest country. We also have connections with seven other countries which make us more unique compared to other consultancies that have connections with only few universities.
AG: What all qualities are needed by your prospective franchisees?
NS: A franchisee should meet our investment capacity and floor requirements. He should have a passion in the field of education and most importantly should be willing to work with strong ethics. This is because this kind of business involves student careers and commissions of different countries.
AG: How many franchisees do you have and in which cities in India?
NS: Presently we have four franchises. Three are in A.P, (Vizag, Vijaywada, Rajhmundry) and one is in Kolkatta.
AG: In what ways do you support and train your franchisees?
NS: Our franchisee gets all day-to-day administration support (processing of documents to universities for admission, visa assistance), launch marketing kit (bags, banners, T-shirts, posters, pens, glow sign, prospectus etc), spot admission facilities by university delegates in their office. We also provide assistance in recruiting the counselors and provide three days training to counselors in our corporate office and then further 11 day training in the franchise office. Further day-to-day queries and issues on universities are also resolved by the corporate office.
AG: How much investment is required by an aspiring franchisee?
NS: The investment depends on the city and town where the franchise is going to be set-up. In metro cities the investment is Rs 20 lakh and in tier I and II towns it is Rs 12 to Rs 15 lakh.
AG: What are your future plans in terms of expansion through franchising?
NS: We are now looking to grow rapidly pan-India by expanding in all big cities, metros and tier II towns in the next three years. We are hopeful to establish around 45 franchises in at least 42 cities/towns in India.
AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by a franchisee in this business? How can they overcome these challenges?
NS: One of the biggest challenges is to monitor the ethics in which the franchisees are functioning as a franchisee without our knowledge can move to immigration and can also fleece the students of money by charging them higher processing fees. Also this business requires day-to-day operational support and this can be a big burden for the corporate office and the centralised administration department. One has to constantly monitor the franchisee and provide a centralised billing process to ensure that no extra fees are being charged from the students.