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Nov, 03 2012

BLENDING MOTHER’S LOVE WITH BIZ SUCCESS

From running after their kids to chasing sales figures, cooking lip-smacking meals to dishing out strategies for business success, momprenuers are now taking franchise route to juggle the balance between a super mom and an entrepreneur.

MOTHERHOOD brings immense joy as well as enormous responsibility. Many women have to leave their jobs after childbirth to honour their family commitments. After some years when their children begin schooling, they consider ending their sabbatical. However, they seek flexibility which is beyond the realms of conventional timings or work space. Mompreneurs thus prefer home based or part time ventures.  Besides financial reasons, the desire for carving own identity or realising inner potential may also rekindle their career ambitions. For some women, starting a   business on their own may not be a feasible option. Franchising has opened a world of   potentially rewarding entrepreneurial opportunities for them. For mompreneurs, child-related service franchises are ideal since working with children comes naturally to them. Parents all over the world, inexorably look for the best ways to nurture and raise their young ones. Globalisation and worldwide cultural exchanges have led to increase in demand for unique international child development concepts among Indian parents as well. They have the financial capabilities to pay for products and services to meet their children's needs. This sector offers massive business scope for aspirants wanting to own a child-related services business.

Key international players

The key foreign players, namely FasTracKids, Kinderdance, KidzArt, Helen O' Grady and Pingu's English have already tasted success on the Indian soil. These brands are continuing to build their presence in India by forging mutually profitable alliances with interested franchisees. Ready to claim their slice of market, new brands like Engineering for Kids, Jymka, Young Rembrandts are all geared up. They have also opted for franchise expansion model to enter into the Indian market.

Getting it right

Women are amazingly good at multitasking, pooling resources, networking and working with communities. An important deliberation for most working mothers is how to achieve a satisfactory work-life balance. A children's franchise offers necessary ease and comfort because the work schedule is generally family-friendly. Keeping in mind one's interest and talent, one can pick from concepts such as art, music, education, movement, language, science, daycare, cooking, etc. Before selecting a franchise, check out how much freedom it gives you.

Started in 1988, Young Rembrandts is a one of a kind concept which teaches art in a way that improves child's academic skills, while learning to draw.  Bette Fetter, the company's Founder & CEO says: “Some of our most successful franchisees are women who earlier belonged to the business world but have families now, and want a business that is more compatible to their family life. Since we are home based and work with schools, Young Rembrandts is a great fit for career moms who want to start their own business, but appreciate the value a franchise system has to offer, and want to work with a well established brand like ours.” Founded almost 14 years ago, the Chicago headquartered brand sold its first franchise in 2011. Currently it has 82 units in the US and Canada. It serves 30,000 kids here and in some international locations as well.  On franchising Bette says: “The beauty of franchising is that you are never doing it alone and have the wisdom and experience of those who have developed and worked with the business already”. Ready to tweak its business according to local culture, Young Rembrandts plans to enter India through the master franchise mode.

Last year, UK-based Linguaphone Group, the world's leading provider of language learning and training solutions, appointed a subsidiary of Hyderabad's Educational Catalysts India Pvt. Ltd as its master licensee (master franchisee) to launch its programme called Pingu's English. The programme uses animated character, a Penguin to create English language lessons for children in the age group three to eight years. The local partner plans to grant state wise sublicenses/franchise all over India. In addition to various other business formats, it also offers the home school model. Anita Rao, Managing Director, Educational Catalysts India Pvt Ltd, says: “With Pingu's English, homemakers now have the choice of associating with an international brand and conducting the programme from the comfort of their homes. The home model is very flexible that allows her to decide the time she would like to devote for doing this programme.” She adds: “By signing up as a domestic Pingu centre, a mompreneur can expect good revenues with very less investment in terms of time and money.”

Create a profitable biz

Mothers are usually creative, passionate about learning and appreciate the child development process. Hence, a creative learning concept can be a perfect business for them. Lack of appropriate engineering programme for her own children inspired Dori Roberts to establish Engineering for Kids. As company's CEO, she says: “Our concept allows children to express creativity and build on the natural engineering mindset. We offer programmes and curriculum that is rarely found in any elementary school.  Our brand is fun, fresh and vibrant as we wanted to create a feel of inspiration and innovation for our students. By doing this, we are inspiring the next generation of engineers.”

Franchising since 2011, the brand with presence in nine US states through 14 franchise units and one corporate unit, majority being women franchisees  In India, it has signed a master franchisee in Delhi/NCR. Speaking on the local viability of Engineering for Kids concept, Dori asserts: “No matter what country they are from, all children are curious to know how things work and function. We tap their natural curiosity and introduce them to engineering concepts at a young age. Any society that highly values education would understand and appreciate the need for such a concept.

KidzArt, another American arts franchise, which came into being in 1990s, launched its pilot master franchise for Maharashtra. The concept teaches art and painting by way of entertainment to its students. In the process, they evolve into self- confident and positively inclined individuals. The brand's model has a variety of classes, hence multiple revenue generation streams. It also delivers its services in schools which reduces the need and cost of real estate purchases, leaving higher   margin for profits.

Known for offering fun-filled educational fitness classes, camps and parties in its state-of-the-art facilities since 2003, Jymka is a children fitness franchise based in Ireland. It also provides instructors who deliver expert fitness curriculum programmes via specialised equipment and sports props to children up to 12 years of age in preschools and primary schools. The concept is set for India expansion through the master franchise route. According to Maurice Byrne, who co-founded the franchise along with his wife Anne Marie, Jymka is an apt franchise for working moms. He assures: “Our franchise offering is a perfect opportunity for budding mompreneurs. We provide extensive training, equipment and programmes to run the complete business. Teaching healthy fitness classes to children has massive appeal. This facilitates a mompreneur to run her own business while having the back up of a proven and established brand.” The brand began franchising in 2009.  “A recurring theme for our existing franchisees revolves around the fact that there is a great work-life balance. This is appropriate for moms who have a family of small children and also have aspirations to run and develop their own successful business,” Maurice sums it up.

Opportunity to realise one's dream

Backed by strong, tested and profitable business models that imbibe exceptional social values and purpose, the featured brands are seeking associations via different franchising models to grow their presence in India. With its first regional master franchise (RMF) signed for Delhi/NCR, Engineering for Kids plans to grant a number of regional master franchises throughout India with focus on Maharashtra and cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, etc. For a RMF, a fee ranging between $ 50,000 and $ 1,00,000 is required.

With pan-India master franchise deal already signed, Jymka plans to award three regional or sub franchise development territories, in addition to single unit opportunities across the Indian market. For a unit, area and investment requirement is 1000-1500 sq ft and Rs 12 to 15 lakh respectively.

Having successfully grown the pilot master franchise (MF) in Maharashtra, KidzArt is now beginning to sub-franchise to extend its footprints across the state. Moreover, the brand is seeking   other MFs throughout India. The investment and infrastructure requirement will depend   on the size of the territory.

For establishing an exclusive Pingu's English centre, an approximate capital of Rs 1-2 lakh and an area of 600 sq ft are needed from potential franchisees.

Young Rembrandts is seeking capable master franchisees that will look for unit franchisees later on.

Battling hurdles, the franchising way

Irrespective of the gender, entrepreneurs are driven by similar motivations and challenges.  Yet, mompreneurs have to face typical barriers beyond the usual humdrum of running any business. Issues related to time management, scouting for clients and business marketing make it difficult to achieve work-life balance.  Here franchising comes to their rescue as it offers women, a compatible business concept along with plenty of training and marketing support to help them operate their business smoothly and successfully.

Empowering more women

Nearly half of India's population is women that comprise significant numbers of stay at home moms. They are the untapped workforce with enormous potential to contribute to the country's socio-economic development. Franchising as a catalyst for their empowerment will continue to encourage more women to embark on their entrepreneurial journey while fulfilling the demands of motherhood. Furthermore, international franchises offer them opportunities to be a part of worldwide business and explore new frontiers of success. They would be the role models for several others who secretly nurture the same wish.

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