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Preschool and Nursery business: Franchise or start on your own?

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How should you venture into this business currently worth Rs 4,004 crore? Estimates are that by 2010 this business will address 126 million tiny tots in the country!

Did you know that around 50% of a person’s ability to learn is developed in the first four years of their lives? Lina Ashar, founder of Brainworks and Kangaroo Kids Education, elaborates,

Running a preschool
Essential Factors
- Ayahs - 1:10 ayah student ratio
- Choosing the right neighborhood for setup/
- Day care and activity center for extra-curriculum
- Distinct teaching methodologies (traditional, Montessori, cognitive, etc)
- Extensive and ongoing teacher training
- Initial brand awareness gimmicks
- Large open spaces
- Parent involvement
- Positive word of mouth
- R&D team
- Small batches- 1:10 teacher student ratio
- Standardized ambience for all franchisees (infrastructure, course and supplies)

“This is a critical period in a child’s life when specific types of learning take place. The brain is especially receptive to stimulation in the area of language, for example, during the first three years. Therefore, children that are exposed to speech (talking, reading, singing, etc) on a regular basis, exhibit language skills that far exceed those with little verbal stimulation.”

Lina, along with many specialists in the educational field are now pitching this concept and stressing towards the importance of preschools in a child’s life. Even parents are realizing the significance of building a foundation for their kids, thanks to tough competition that exists nowadays with regards to school admissions. They no longer resort to the neighborhood play schools or day care centers but are on the lookout for preschools with a reputed name and infrastructural facilities for their child’s overall development.

Several preschool chains have already opened up in the past few years to cater to the requirement. But with around 126 million children expected to be in the age group of 0 to 4 by the year 2010, according to the United Nations Population Division, the demand for preschools in the organized segment could be on the rise like never before.

Lina Ashar
Founder, Brainworks
Jayesh Nair
Head, Trishna Preschools
Starting your own schools is capital intensive, as opposed to franchising, since property refurbishment, toys and other equipment costs are high. One school would cost you around Rs 15 to 20 lacs, excluding brand building costsIn franchising model, the quality of teachers often suffer. Hence, we only appoint qualified teachers who are well-experienced in dealing with children. We have a separate team that train them with teaching techniques, throughout the year.

A Rs 4,004 Crore Industry
According to reports by brokerage firm CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, the preschool industry in the country is currently estimated to gross about Rs 4,004 crore ($985 million). The report also indicated that the largest chain of preschools in India comprises of just 550 schools, less than 4% of the total market potential of 15,000 preschools.

A day care center is definitely a secure option for many working parents. For instance, we provide all the facilities that a child would typically require throughout the day. We have a sterilizer, refrigerator and microwave. Also, a full-time well-trained nurse ensures that the baby gets proper care.
Madhulika Bhupatkar
Director, Little Pearls

This is primarily because most preschools in India fall in the unorganized sector. Says Lina, “The business of running preschools has tremendous potential in India as it is still highly unorganized and often lacks a standardized curriculum, infrastructure and quality. Given that it is lucrative, and there is still a quality gap, there is scope for several organized players to get into this business.”

According to Sarita Sayal, Director of Mother’s Pride, which enrolls around 10,000 children annually, “Driving this growth are several social factors, like the increasing number of double income nuclear families who desire to enroll their kids in the best of schools and fear losing out on the rat race.”