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Sep, 02 2014

Education, it’s a woman’s world

As we focus on women excelling in various fields, it is important to talk about education-a field that has perhaps witnessed the maximum growth in terms of women participation.

What is it that makes this segment appealing to females? What does the future hold for women in this stream? And what all lucrative options are available for them to enter the education industry? We try and answer these questions.

Mother is the first teacher that a child gets. He/She learns the most important teachings and principles of life, the art of living and looking after his/herself from the mother. Mother is the child's first touch point on earth and it is through her, that he/she gets to know the world around.

This innate nature of nurturing and taking care of her little one is what perhaps makes women apt for education industry.

“Women are better equipped with social skills, self-awareness, managing emotions and empathy. They have greater emotional empathy which fosters sensitivity and understanding owing to which they end up having a better connect with kids,” says Lina Ashar, Founder, Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High Schools.

“I can categorically say that women do have an edge in handling young children and attending to their needs (both physical as well as emotional). Children feel much more secured and comfortable with women as normally the patience and perseverance level in them is higher,” opines Amar Kapasi, Co-Founder and Director, Planet Kids.

“Women stand a better chance than men in becoming our franchisees. If we have a male franchisee, then he has to recruit a female who will be the face of the institution. On the other hand, woman or female franchisee can herself be the face of the institution,” says Amol Arora, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Shemrock And Shemford Group of Schools.

Franchise opportunities

Many education brands, especially pre-schools seek women franchisees and are proud of their association with them. All the brands that we spoke with during research for this article had high percentages of women franchisees to showcase, that portrayed their keenness in forging new such associations and taking the existing ones forward.

Let's take you through some of the brands that are offering lucrative opportunities to women to enter the education industry.

Incorporated in 1997, EuroKids International Private Limited is an integrated education and edutainment company committed towards providing world-class education and entertainment to children through books, pre-schools and K-12 schools. The brand operates with a strong network of more than 900 franchisees across 319 towns and cities in India and is one of the largest chains of pre-schools in Asia.

“Being a EuroKids franchisee, gives women a perfect work-life balance. It is a unique business opportunity associated with the noble cause of education. It also gives them great social recognition,” says Amit Singh, SBU Head, EuroKids.

EuroKids follows a multi-level training program and offers complete support and training to all its franchisees which includes site selection, infrastructure and ambience development and equipment required in setting up the school.

Another opportunity comes from Kidzee, a brand from the house of Zee Learn Ltd. With over 1,350 centres spreading smiles over 500 cities in India, the brand takes pride in having prepared over 4,00,000 children for future leadership and excellence and is one of the leading pre-school chains in Asia. Zee Learn Ltd also runs K-12 schools under the banner of Mount Litera Zee Schools.

Having started franchising in 2003, Kidzee runs on its trademarked pedagogy- iLLUME, which is designed to help the child realise his/her unique abilities in a systematic, synergetic and self-paced manner. 

“We at Kidzee take immense pride from the facts that close to 85 per cent of our Edupreneurs who run Kidzee centres are women who have risen to a position of prestige in the society. I doubt there would be many brands who can claim that over 1,000 women entrepreneurs run their franchise,” asserts Abhinav Upadhyay, Head Marketing and Innovation, Kidzee. 

Established in 2005 with a vision to enhance the quality and experience of pre-schooling in the country, Planet Kids came into being. The brand follows international standards for all its working methodologies and aims at providing a 360 degree holistic experience for children as well as their parents. It takes pride in organising various activities for kids to for an all-round personality development and makes an effort to provide quality education at an affordable price.

Planet Kids started franchising in 2011 and at present has four company owned centres and 13 franchise outlets.

The brand offers good opportunities for budding women entrepreneurs and many of their current women franchisees have moved on to being multi-unit owners from being just a single unit franchisee. There are various verticals such as pre-school, daycare and activity hub where women entrepreneurs can utilize their skills effectively.

Since 1991, Shemrock Chain of Playschools has been providing lucrative pre-school franchise opportunities with complete guidance, help and support to all the aspiring edupreneurs. Shemrock's sister brand which operates in the K-12 sector, Shemford which came into being in the year 2009.

The brand started franchising way back in 1991 and over the past 25 years, claims to have nurtured more than 3,00,000 children through a network of more than 425 Shemrock And Shemford branches across 27 states and Union Territories in India. With two-third of its franchisees as women, the brand looks forward to associate with more like-minded women entrepreneurs for further expansion.

A concept pre-school, Little Elly started out in 2006, providing a nurturing and stimulating environment responsive to the changing needs of children, parents, faculty, staff and the neighbourhood. The school's early learning programme provides unique teachings for each age group, with a multitude of activities and experiences encouraging children's natural curiosity and sense of learning.

At present Little Elly has more than 110 centers across India, present mainly in South and Western India (Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Surat, Mangalore and Navi Mumbai). The brand started franchising in 2007 and today, 95 per cent of its franchisees are women.

With an aim to help each child learn effortlessly from a congenial learning environment, Beehive came into being. It forayed into franchising in 2011. Beehive's relevant exposure in pre-schooling and a strong support structure makes it a good learning experience where children love to learn, bond and imbibe skills to realize their inherent potential as future leaders.

Beehive is committed towards its franchisees and provides complete support and training for their growth. From exclusive training to its entire staff to timely audits; the brand provides all help to its associates.

Another brand, Hello Kids started franchising in 2009 and takes pride in being one of India's first “no royalty” model pre-school. With more than 180 centres throughout the country, Hello Kids provides all support to its partners and says more than 90 per cent of its franchisees are women.

Franchise opportunities by the women, for the women!

Here are some true blue women brands… i.e. education brands being run by women that offer good opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

Sesame Street Pre-School, the latest venture of Sesame Workshop is one such example. Sesame Workshop, a New York based non-profit educational organisation entered India in 2006. It develops and distributes high quality and engaging educational content for children in the age-group 0-8 years; and is behind the hugely successful show Sesame Street and Galli Galli Sim Sim.

Sesame Street Pre-school, that started franchising in 2012 runs on a curriculum and methodology that integrates hands-on project-based learning, with creative approach to foster critical thinking and problem-solving, preparing children not just for school but for life as well.

“Franchise model allows us to continue to focus on our core competencies of content development, teacher training, and adherence to standards of excellence. It also enables us to expand faster, especially to tier II cities where the need for high quality education is great,” says Mona Singh, VP, Sesame Street Pre-school.

KKEL owned Kangaroo Kids is yet another true-blue woman brand. Together Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High International Schools (that cater to K-12 education), focus on integrated and theme based learning that encourages children to apply prior knowledge and extend the same during conversations, informal play or worksheets.

“Starting with a single Kangaroo Kids pre-school in 1993 and Billabong High International School in 2003, today, KKEL's education model is imparted at over 73 schools in 20 cities across India, as well as in Dubai, Middle East and Maldives”, says Lina Ashar, Founder, Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High Schools.

The brand helps women franchisees have a smooth transition from a house wife to a businesswoman through exposure to various domains.

Sneak peek into the future

One doesn't really need to gaze into the crystal ball to know that women have a bright future in the education industry. With both franchisors and franchisees finding themselves in a win-win situation, the industry will further witness rise of women entrepreneurs in its fold. Awareness among women and sense of economic independence that has set in will further aid this growth. Even industry leaders agree with this fact and look forward to associating with women entrepreneurs passionate about education industry.

“Traditionally, the education sector attracted women entrepreneurs in the metro cities. Recently, we are seeing attraction from the smaller towns as well,” observes Amol Arora, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Shemrock And Shemford Group Of Schools.

Adds Amit Singh, SBU Head, EuroKids, “There is definitely a trend of 'women entering the education industry.  To successfully run a pre-school, a person should possess three most important Ps- Passion, Patience and Perseverance; which women inherently have.”

Abhinav Upadhyay, Head Marketing and Innovation, Kidzee aptly concludes by saying, “We see women as icons who are changing the face of education in India.”

What makes women tick in the education industry?

= Innate nature of nurturing children

= Inherent multi-tasking skills

= Considered more compassionate and sensitive 

to kids' needs and requirements

= Great work-personal life balance along with comfort of holidays that helps maintain equilibrium between family life and work front

= Safe and respectable environment offered by education sector

= Easy work timings



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