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Oct, 03 2011


A desire for world-class education has caught the fancy of most Indian parents and in other words supplementary education has become the most in-thing these days.

A desire for world-class education has caught the fancy of most Indian parents and in other words supplementary education has become the most in-thing these days.

IN India, people are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that while formal education is an absolute necessity, it's just not enough for the all-round development of a child. There is no denying that supplementary learning makes formal education more cohesive and complete and considering its growing demand several home-grown as well as foreign brands are exploring the Indian supplementary education market to launch their new age concepts. Read on to check out some lucrative opportunities offered by foreign brands in the informal education segment in India.

Over the years Indian economy has become significantly knowledge based. Country's education market has undergone a sea change with incredible growth in size and turnover. Experts believe that education industry is likely to cross USD 50 billion mark by 2015. The informal or supplementary learning encompasses range of after-school academics or extracurricular programmes that can be in the form of academic instructions, leisure activities and engagement with families and communities. The programmes may range from early childhood care and education to college preparation.

Growth drivers

Demand for innovative learning concepts is on the rise. Unlike mainstream education, supplementary education sector is not so regulated. This has encouraged international brands to get the taste of Indian soil. The growth of education sector can also be attributed to franchising. Several international brands have launched their unique education concepts in India via franchising. The channel is also facilitating potential franchisees aspiring for ownership of education business without going through the hardship of building a business from the scratch. Therefore, interested franchisees can give wings to their entrepreneurial dreams.

Brands in business

In the child enrichment segment, a number of global education brands have enjoyed considerable success in the Indian market. Many more are set to explore the Indian market. International brands offering lucrative business opportunities in supplementary education are:

FasTracKids: Established in 1998, US-based FasTracKids International fulfills the niche requirement in the pre-school industry by offering world-class after-school curriculum using multi-sensory approach, including music elements and addresses multiple intelligence-based learning. Multiple programmes cater to varied age groups from six months to eight years, providing extended student retention. The company also offers co-branding to existing pre-schools to leverage its interactive curriculum. Nancy M Faunce, Chief Executive Officer, FasTracKids, shares the USP of the brand: “We offer first global interactive curriculum for pre-school kids 'Educational Zigzagging' for better delivery and results. Ours is a revolutionary concept in early childhood education that encourages five C's - creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and confidence”.

According to her, FasTracKids is a unique learning experience for children between one and eight years. This is perhaps the only after-school enrichment programme that uses latest interactive touch screen technology. The concept has not been modified for India given its universal appeal. The brand has established its presence in over 45 countries. Franchisees seeking partnership may acquire nine programmes as a part of FasTracKids franchise.

Kidville: Founded in 2004 in USA by Shari Misher Stenzler, Kidville is an early childhood development brand that offers a phenomenal range of enrichment classes and services for children and their families. It operates large, upscale facilities, catering to children and their families. Offering a wide range of developmental classes in pre-school, including gym, art, music, dance and enrichment for children up to six years, it also features an indoor play space, birthday parties for children up to nine years and at select locations a retail boutique and a Kidville Salon. Mumbai-based Kwakids Learning Pvt Ltd; master franchise partner for India, will develop the brand across the country. Talking about the USP of the brand, Rosenyn Kapur, master franchise partner, says: “Through our broad range of classes across various disciplines, we provide tremendous exposure to children, at an age when they assimilate the most. Our USP is our focus on offering high quality services, safety, security and convenience to children and their families.” Retaining the best practices and the unique curriculum of the brand, the programme will be introduced with certain modifications to best suit the Indian culture, beliefs and practices. Brand's pre-school programme- Kidville University (KVU) is a perfect blend of national and international sensibilities. Showing the franchise opportunity, Kapur says: “Being the first of-its-kind concept, Kidville franchisee has an edge in an accelerated and growing market. Kidville Corporate has been named 'Best of' by New York magazine. Interested franchisees can explore this award-winning opportunity.

Mathnasium: Mathnasium is an award-winning supplementary education franchise that offers fun, along with effective, customisable mathematics instruction to students. It not only helps children become more competent, but also builds confidence and helps them in developing a positive attitude towards the discipline. Started with its first centre in 2003, the brand currently has worldwide presence with over 325 locations in four continents.

Commenting on the association with the brand, Joe Novak, SVP, Franchise Marketing & Development, Mathnasium Learning Centres, says: “Each Mathnasium franchise is a product of a collaborative exchange between the company's corporate team and the local franchisee.” Further, franchise owners can leverage brand's specially-designed, proprietary Mathnasium method, derived from more than 35 years of research and development. The brand's franchise model requires all master franchisees to open their own centre and they can also hire a part-time math teacher. “Curriculum translation and adapting to local standards must be managed by master franchisee when necessary. This involves co-ordinating the Mathnasium curriculum with proper grade levels in India as well as changing currency and measuring nomenclature,” adds Novak.

Abrakadoodle: Abrakadoodle was co-founded in 2002 by award-winning educator/franchise developer Mary C Rogers and children's services franchising expert Rosemarie Hartnett. It is a multi-faceted visual arts and creativity programme for children between 20 months and 12 years at convenient community locations, such as schools and community centres. The concept includes a wide array of creativity-boosting classes, camps, workshops, birthday parties and special events. Children learn about multiple art forms such as painting, sculpting, mosaics, collage, paper and fabric art, sketching, studio art, foil embossing, digital photography etc. Mary C Rogers, CEO, Abrakadoodle, says: “Our international expansion has focused on Asia, where parents place a high value of education. India offers a great opportunity for further expansion of the brand.” The USP of the brand is helping students gain a visual art vocabulary, as they discover art history and learn techniques inspired by a host of both master and contemporary artists from around the world. Commenting on the value proposition for an investor seeking franchise partnership with the brand, Rogers says: “We offer an extensive curriculum, multiple revenue streams and a concept known for both quality and creativity.” The concept designed to be an international brand offers a multi-national and multi-cultural curriculum as well as an Internet-based system for information delivery, communication and an on-going support service. The company has successfully integrated its programme in Singapore, Japan, China and Indonesia.

Gateway to prosperity

These international brands are set to spread their wings across India and are looking out for franchise partners. FasTracKids seeks existing quality schools, early childhood businesses and stand-alone enrichment centres as potential franchisees. It has over 300 global locations including more than 25 franchisees in India located in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Bhopal, Nagpur and Baroda. The brand will also like to explore the master franchisee/developer model for Indian market. The new entrants in the Indian franchising space are also rolling out their growth plans. Kwakids, master franchise partner (MF) of Kidville, is set to launch brand's location by October, 2011, with one more facility expected by 2012.

The company is targeting to open 100 locations across India through corporate-owned and sub-franchise centres. Mathnasium is also seeking an entry into country's thriving supplemental education space. The brand has plans to sign state master franchisees in the country. The MF must open its own Mathnasium centre first and then can sub-franchise the brand via individual and local area agreements.

Finally, Abrakadoodle, with 79 locations worldwide, expects to have 100 studios in 2012. The brand will be offering regional master franchisees in India. Interested investors can explore these enticing opportunities as a first step towards entrepreneurship.

Hurdles & highs

The road may not be as smooth as it appears. Franchisors bringing in their education concepts in India may face some hurdles, as the supplementary education industry is quite huge. Though the market is attractive in terms of size, but the cultural diversity and multi-lingual clientele may require tailoring the concepts according to local norms. Identifying the appropriate consumer segment for their specialised products and services is another key consideration. The market needs to be studied and understood extensively to target the right clientele. With more local and global players competing for large market share, education concepts need to be truly ground-breaking to capture the interest of those seeking a franchise. On the high side, education business is claimed to be a recession-proof venture and hosts tremendous entrepreneurial opportunities.

Last word

Driven by increasing consumer demand, the supplementary Indian education industry is poised for robust growth and long-term view of the market is positively healthy. Informal sector is gaining ground and offers a lot of business scope. Currently, there are a few international players in the market and the opportunity cost is relatively low. Therefore, the time is ripe for investment in the international education franchise. Entrepreneurs, having a strong desire to enhance educational skills within children and business acumen for developing global brand in India, may find their calling in this exciting and lucrative sector.

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