Teaching talent is going to be a key challenge

Zee Learn, which has been demerged from the entertainment business of ETC, is focussing on technology and training to consolidate its pre-school-to-professional education business which is catching on fast

Zee Learn the only organised player in the pre-school market in India, was listed on the stock exchanges yesterday. Sumeet Mehta, CEO of Zee Learn, spoke to Moneylife about the business model, the education programme, his company’s plans and the challenges it faces.

MoneyLife (ML): What are the reasons for listing the company? What will be the shareholding pattern be?

Sumeet Mehta (SM):
Zee Learn de-merged from ETC network, which is mainly into education and the entertainment business. Entertainment was looked at by Zee Entertainment. So, Zee Learn was carved out to totally focus on the education business, and now it has been listed on the stock exchanges.

ML: What will be the net profit percentage to sales and return on equity for 2011?

The last six-months sales was around Rs20 crore and profit after tax (PAT) was around Rs1.5 crore. We should maintain or marginally improve in the next six months. From the next fiscal we would see some growth.

ML: What have been the impediments in marketing the novel concept? What is the cost of marketing and promotion as a percentage of sales?

Marketing was never a problem, because we always delivered and focused on supplying quality education. Since the beginning, we were well established and a market leader. In 2006, parents of children who passed out from Kid Zee were happy and wanted schooling from Zee Learn, which helped us to work out a quality education programme. About 25% of total sales is our cost of marketing. 
ML: What are your key challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?

As we grow, teaching talent is going to be a key challenge. We are working on the quality of our staff and teachers. In the education sector, there is hardly any innovation. But we are focusing on innovation in terms of technology, training, infrastructure, and so on. Fee regulations by various state governments and the fact that educational institutions are supposed to be not-for-profit organisations, would impede fast scale-up.

ML: Zee Learn has educational programmes from pre-primary to professional courses related to creative arts and film-making. What makes you different from others institutes offering varied courses?

Our pedagogy is the most unique aspect of Zee Learn. The pre-school pedagogy iLLume stands out from others. It ensures bringing out the true potential of the child. At the school level we emphasise on multiple intelligence and life skills such as communication. In addition we cultivate and encourage children to impart ideas of being a good human being. At 2D animation courses we focus on building animation skills in a student, as this is more important than teaching software which keeps on changing.

ML: What is your competitive position vis-à-vis the neighbourhood pre-primary schools?

We are not bothered about the competition. The market is still under-penetrated. There is lot of room to grow and 5-7 years from now there are going to be nearly four to five market players without coming in each others way.

ML: Is getting a regular supply of quality teachers a problem? What are you doing about it?

Training of teachers is one of our key focus areas. Each teacher has to have 60 hours of Zee Learn’s training programme, which is a significant amount of investment in terms of time and resources. 

ML: What is the road-map for the coming year?

We are in the process of growing steadily. By the end of this year we will have 800+ pre-schools and around 40,000 students in Kid Zee schools.


India still top destination for offshore outsourcing

Bangalore: India is still the world’s favourite destination for offshore outsourcing, but attractive cost structures in the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia and the rapid growth of the business in China are posing tough competition, reports PTI quoting a new study by Gartner Inc.

In the study, the IT research and advisory firm identified the top 30 countries around the world for globally sourced activities in 2010-11, rating them on the basis of 10 criteria.

Many organisations that choose to move IT services to lower-cost countries are daunted by the task of determining which country, or countries, would best suit their requirement. Gartner conducted an analysis of these countries to assess their capabilities and potential as offshore services locations, it said.

India retained its position as the most successful country among global offshore locations, as per the Gartner study. It scored well across all 10 criteria. While its cost-competitiveness is being challenged due to the rising rupee, this is compensated by its strength in other areas, as per Gartner's study.

“Clients continue to seek a portfolio of offshore countries and with India again experiencing increasing labour costs and attrition, this is creating opportunities for other offshore locations to target the services needs of more-mature Asian clients,” said Gartner Research vice-president Ian Marriott.

China improved its scores for “political and economic environment” from “good” to “very good”, and “culture compatibility” from “fair” to “good”.

Contributing to the increased rating for China is its rising global political and economic leverage, especially in the wake of the recent global economic crisis.

China experienced a steady positive growth rate, spurred by a $583.9 billion stimulus package, in 2009. The Shanghai 2010 World Expo has helped increase cultural awareness within China, which has helped the growth of the business in the country, according to the study.

Gartner’s scores for the Philippines remain largely unchanged, although its rating for “global and legal maturity” fell from “good” to “fair”.

Gartner continues to see foreign companies being attracted to the Philippine's young, experienced labour pool specialising in contact centres and finance and accounting (F&A) business process outsourcing (BPO), complemented by its good language and cultural compatibility with western economies.


Personal finance Tuesday

Dhanlaxmi Bank ties up with Doha Bank for remittance services; Kotak Mahindra MF to convert Indo World Infrastructure Fund into open-ended scheme; Fidelity MF declares dividend under Tax Advantage Fund

Dhanlaxmi Bank ties up with Doha Bank for remittance services

Dhanlaxmi Bank has signed an agreement with Doha Bank, in Qatar for online remittance of funds.

Using this service, non-resident Indians (NRIs) customers will be able to transfer money from any of Doha Bank’s branches in Qatar or via its internet banking platform to designated beneficiaries accounts in any of Dhanlaxmi Bank’s 274 branches in India. NRIs will also be able to remit funds to beneficiaries having accounts with any other bank through NEFT/RTGS network in India.

With this arrangement, Dhanlaxmi Bank now expands its footprint in Qatar.The Bank has existing remittance arrangements with nine exchange houses spread across United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Oman.

Kotak Mahindra MF to convert Indo World Infrastructure Fund into open-ended scheme 
Kotak Mahindra Mutual Fund has declared the conversion of its scheme–Kotak Indo World Infrastructure Fund, a three year close-ended equity scheme into an open-ended equity scheme, with effect from 27 January 2011. There will be no changes in the fundamental features of the scheme except that the scheme will be converted from close-ended to open-ended scheme. The scheme will charge an exit load of 1% if exited within one year from the date of allotment of units. No exit load will be applicable after one year. The unitholders of the scheme who don’t want to convert their scheme into an open-ended scheme may redeem their units at applicable NAV or switch to other open-ended schemes of Kotak Mahindra Mutual Fund without paying any exit load between 25 December 2010 and 25 January 2011.

Fidelity MF declares dividend under Tax Advantage Fund

Fidelity Mutual Fund has declared dividend under its scheme–Fidelity Tax Advantage Fund. The quantum of dividend decided for distribution under the scheme is Rs1.50 per unit. The record date for distribution of dividend is 21 December 2010. Fidelity Tax Advantage Fund is an open-ended ELSS scheme. The investment objective of the fund is to generate long-term capital growth from a diversified portfolio of predominantly equity and equity-related securities.

The scheme is benchmarked against BSE-200 Index and is managed by Sandeep Kothari.


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