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MITRA- Your Friend on Wheels
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MITRA- Your Friend on Wheels

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  • 1. MITRA …your friend on wheels Bhavani Shankar Deepak Kumar Sinha Kaushik Sridhar Meghna Shyam Varma Sandeep S Srinivasarao Nudurupati Thomas Raymond Hyland Yash Mahendra
  • 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY During our village visit we were pleasantly surprised to find a small library more like a reading room maintained and operated by youth volunteers in the heart of the village. On probing further we found out that the library is very popular and is up for expansion to accommodate a greater number of male and female students. This library lead us to wonder that if this tiny collection of mostly second hand books could elicit so much readership and enthusiasm how much of a value addition would a real city library be! A few hours down the line we met several young students who were proud of their educational qualifications (Many of them had degrees in engineering.) but could not sport their employment post education with the same pride. We figured that this was largely due to a clear absence of soft skills that made them unattractive for the job market. Inspired by the above we came up with a business model that takes English language teachers to these villages on a mini-Bus that doubles up as a library. Our classes would focus on soft skills development and would cultivate communication skills, both verbal and written, teach them business etiquette, help them prepare their resume and face interviews confidently. Using the library as a repository of knowledge, the teachers will try to build general awareness, good comprehension and expression through reading assignments from the books that will be issued to them for a nominal fee. The reason why we believe this model will be successful is the fact that we saw a tremendous willingness to pay for education among residents of the village. We have priced our offering of 2 classes/week or 8 classes a month for a modest Rs. 100. In addition to this we have priced the monthly library fee at Rs. 20. We have decided to float discounted advance payment plans wherein one can pay Rs. 550 for 6 months and Rs. 1100 for a year to tap the ready availability of cash with them during the harvest months. The bulk of our fixed cost went into the bus and the bulk of our variable cost went into salaries of our teachers. While we’re saving costs by buying a second hand ‘van’ we’ve not compromised on the salary of our teachers and pay them a handsome Rs. 15,000, which is best in class considering that our teachers are fresh or recent graduates from the universities of Hyderabad who are either unemployed or underemployed. Despite our low prices the revenue stream looks very healthy. We’re breaking even in 6 months flat and the model is scalable to satellite villages of almost all major cities in the country that are generating employment opportunities and becoming desirable destinations for migration. Later in the day we also aim at honing technical skills by bringing in another set of instructors. The purpose of this vocational training will be specific to certain job profiles. The credibility of the institution beyond the first year shall be determined by the number of jobs that people stemming out of our program can get. In this respect we would like to collaborate with either suppliers of manpower or build associations with recruiters directly.
  • 3. THE BUSINESS PLAN The Context: Yet, only 5 people 400 people at More than 200 600 Students are employed at least educated up people are attending school par with their to 10th level graduates qualifications! As the above depiction shows, because of access to schools and colleges, people are getting educated in a fairly high proportion. However, most of them do not seem to exhibit the qualities that are required either to compete with the urban population for the regular jobs or to use their knowledge to take their traditional occupation to an economically viable level. We believe that effective communication skills (including English) and basic technical skills can bridge this gap and can empower the village youth to compete confidently in this modern age. Stated and unstated needs: Market research: Method used- Exploratory research (one on one discussions + laddering technique) Below are some excerpts from the research sample: 1. Carpenter Mr. Krishna has been investing more than 80% of his monthly income on his three children’s education out of which more than 80% goes to his eldest son’s education and the remaining 20% for his two daughter’s education. His son has recently completed his engineering with distinction but he is unable to secure a job in the last four months after his graduation. In a close conversation with him, we found out that he is not even applying for any jobs and his father doesn’t seem aware of it. The reason is his low level of confidence to go to the town and compete with his better equipped counterparts. He lacks the necessary communication skills and soft skills which would make him employable or equip him to better negotiate and leverage his father’s products in the market. 2. We found similar stories pan out in our discussions with (a) Mr. Sivalingam Gowd, who is a M.Sc., B.Ed. but is working in his family profession of extracting palm juice from trees (eetha kallu), (b) Mrs Lakshmi, an anganwadi teacher who believes that she can add more value to her students if she is well equipped with English communication skills and other soft skills, (c) Mr. Suresh, a graduate, who feels that the only thing which his village needs is to have an English training centre.
  • 4. This pain point has been echoed in almost all the communications with the villagers. These data show that there is this latent need for soft skills/ English communication training in this village. Lot of educated youth, who are unwilling to take part in their traditional businesses would generate a strain in the village eco system and may further lead to frustration and loss of confidence. Market Size: Surrounding 15 Gundarampalli, villages, each 8500 students 1000 students has 500 plus educated plus educated students plus youth youth educated youth Our offering: Professional soft skills Technical trainers trainers Mobile library This constellation of villages has got a big advantage of being just 40 Km from Hyderabad. By leveraging the proximity of these villages to the city, we propose to bring trainers from nearby city into the villages twice a week to impart the necessary training. Professional soft skills trainers: These trainers would be brought from Hyderabad into the villages to train the youth in soft skills and equip them with confidence and knowledge to take on the challenges of the modern economy. This would enable them to better negotiate the terms of work and products with the intermediaries or gain employment in the nearby industries. Technical trainers: These trainers would provide services in terms of helping the traditional professionals to increase their productivity and would visit the villages once a week. They would also provide the villagers with the modern day techniques and also identify opportunities for them to expand their businesses and improve the productivity of their farms. Mobile library- This is a cross-subsidy model based service which would be provided to the students and the village population in general, in order to broaden their horizon and knowledge about the world. This library would stack books which would be renewed every month. The trainers would also use this library to issue relevant books to the students who take part in his/her training programs.
  • 5. Target: Achieve 50% market penetration in the first operational year. Market segmentation: The target customers can be divided into three segments. Unemployed Educated people in School students educated youth traditional occupation • 500 Gundarampalli • 400 Gundarampalli • 100 Gundarampalli • 300 each from 15 • 150 each from 15 • 50 each from 15 other villages other villages other villages. Business Model: 1. Trainers would be hired from Operational Model Hyderabad. They would typically be underemployed 1. Enrollment fees from the Revenue Model graduates. students. 2. They would travel to this 2. Nominal fees for library constellation of villages in a van subscription. which would also also serve as 3. Subsidies and financial a mobile library and would also support from the village have the necessary technical panchayats. infrastructure. 3. Village school would be used for lecturing after the usual class hours. 4. Possibility of tie ups with city libraries and training centres to support this concept Operations & Logistics No. of classes per week (in each village): 2 No. of Buses required for serving 14 villages: 2 Here is a sample time table of class schedules in 14 villages: Villages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Bus 1 M M F F T T S S W W Su Su Th Th Bus 2 Th Th M M F F T T S S W W Su Su
  • 6. Where, Days Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun M T W Th F S Su Key Financials Here we consider the financial feasibility of the venture, taking into consideration the fixed and variable costs. This exercise is being done for a cluster of 14 villages which can be serviced as mentioned under Operations and Logistics. FIXED COST (TOTAL) INR 775,000.00 (All INR) Requirements for 14 Villages Number Price Total Remarks Vans 2 200,000.00 400,000.00 Second Hand Book sets 2 100,000.00 200,000.00 50% Second hand Furnishing and Office 1 50,000.00 50,000.00 Furniture Computer 2 25,000.00 50,000.00 Content Development & 75,000.00 Training As mentioned above the fixed costs for a cluster of 14 villages amount only to Rs. 7.75 lakhs. Major components of this investment are in the vans and the books that we are buying for the library. The assumptions made here is the fact that a small office in Hyderabad will be sufficient for the purpose of our organization. Every morning teachers from Hyderabad will report at the office and shall be taken to the villages as per the time table shared above. Now let us delve into the variable costs. VARIABLE COST (PER INR 345,000.00 (All INR) MONTH) Requirements for 14 Villages Number Price Total Office maintenance 1 5,000.00 5,000.00 Office Rent 1 15,000.00 15,000.00 Office Staff Coordinator 1 10,000.00 10,000.00 Finance 1 10,000.00 10,000.00 Driver 2 10,000.00 20,000.00 Instructor 15 15,000.00 225,000.00 Vehicle maintenance 2 5,000.00 10,000.00 Fuel 2 20,000.00 40,000.00 Book replenishments 2 5,000.00 10,000.00 The bulk of the variable cost mentioned above goes towards salary expenses of the teachers that we’re employing. Cumulatively, the variable costs per month come to only Rs. 3.45 lacs per month.
  • 7. Now, let us take a look at the revenue streams. Revenue INR 510,000.00 Number Price Total Fees for Courses 4250 100.00 425,000.00 Library Membership (monthly) 4250 20.00 85,000.00 We’re charging a nominal fee of Rs. 100 per month for these classes! We think that this price point will make the course extremely popular and we will be able to get about 50% penetration in the market which means that we will register 4,250 students and generate Rs. 4.25 lacs alone on monthly fee. Also, we will charge a nominal Rs. 20 a month for library services. Going by the above analysis we have the following profit and breakeven numbers. Profits per month INR 165,000.00 Profits (annual) INR 1,980,000.00 Break Even point 5 months Valuation as a perpetuity INR 28,285,714.29 (Discount rate: 7%) Market entry strategies The following are the major components of our market entry strategy. 1. Conduct a preliminary market research – Need to conduct a preliminary market research in all the 14 villages to gauge: • Interest levels • Any available space for keeping books and conducting classes • Local existing competition, if any 2. Generate awareness through promotions Engage the local panchayat, anganwadi workers and school teachers. Conduct a small advertising campaign by going to schools and making children aware of the books they can avail of at the library. Conduct a workshop for the youth and women for vocational training courses.Give a few sample books or sample classes before students can join 3. Do a pilot – starting with a single van in 2-3 villages to identify practical problems. 4. Launch- During harvest season when people have extra cash to spend. 5. Pricing- Launch discounted 6 month or 1 year offers. For instance, 6 month offer can be given for Rs. 550 and 12 month offer for Rs. 1100. It is better to take a lumpsum during the harvest season to avoid defaults in the future. Erecting Entry barriers 1. Tie up with local panchayat and schools 2. Avail facilities like classrooms and subsidies from panchayats. 3. Employ local volunteers for maintenance of library records locally. Alliances and Strategic partnerships
  • 8. Opinion Leaders-The most important supporter will be local governing body , that is the panchayat and the sarpanch. Also respected figures and political workers can be approached to spread word of mouth. Foot soldiers- Gain support of the headmaster, the school teachers, Anganwadi workers and the women self help groups as they are the direct contact points. Local staff – A local educated person who can keep a record of the books/ videos and who is also knowledgeable enough to advise children, women or the youth regarding books they can read and recommend to others. Anticipated Risks & Mitigation Strategies 1. Acceptance: The challenges associated with introducing a new service and getting a buy-in from the rural folks are particularly prominent in the case of our plan. a. The conventional mindset poses a huge risk for acceptance – We noted that there is an obsession with attaining a graduation degree while looking down upon vocational education. We plan to educate the rural folks about how this mindset has created scores of unemployed graduates while there is a huge demand for skilled workers like plumbers/electricians. On the other hand, for the graduates of Gundrampally, we wish to emphasize the significance of soft skills in securing a job and providing the confidence to move to a city like Hyderabad and survive. Graduates or not, the rural folks have to be run through a session of ‘myth-busting’ for our idea to gain acceptance and open windows of opportunities for them. b. The credibility of the vocational training service provider is an important aspect for the idea to sell and hence poses a significant risk for acceptance. We plan to circumvent this through preliminarily selling the concept to the local panchayat/sarpanch, the anganwadi workers, the school teachers/headmaster, a few unemployed graduates and later encouraging them (instead of us) to conduct participative information dissemination sessions through small cohesive groups at schools, farmer meets, melas and co-operative society meets. We understand that the sarpanch/headmaster posts can be held by different members every year and hence concept selling is a repetitive process. To address this, we might create a ‘Headmaster’s Best Student Award’/‘Sarpanch’s Scholar Award’ sponsored by us to get their skin in the game. 2. Competition: Over time, the sustenance of our service depends upon the number of jobs that were created since the inception of our service. We also plan to leverage our contacts to apprise recruiters of the availability of the newly skilled talent pool. Also, erecting significant entry barriers will take care of competitive encroachment. 3. Technology Penetration: The literate minority in Gundrampally is comfortable with the use of mobile phones and computers. As better mobile Value-Added-Services and internet enabled computers reach this segment, there is a high chance that people would find cheaper and more convenient vocational education services. This can cannibalize our service. We plan to address this by proactively (once a certain penetration is reached) packaging our product (course content) to reach the target audience – through CD/DVDs and offline (non-GPRS/sms based) mobile applications. This option would be complimentary to the traditional means of providing our service.