In a country that has built an outsourcing empire on the back of a large English-speaking workforce, an institute instructing Indians to communicate in English may sound oxymoronic. Yet, not only has Vivekananda English Training Academy (Veta) attempted this exercise, it has successfully grown into a Rs 100-crore enterprise with 150 centres in 18 states. Itâ€™s now even looking beyond India.
The 26-year-old brand didnâ€™t begin life teaching Indians English, of course. Vivekananda Institute, as it was then called, originally tutored students in mathematics and science, reveals Ganesh Ram, MD, Veta. Ram started the instituteâ€™s first classroom in Chennai after graduation, as the idea of a regular 9-to-5 job didnâ€™t appeal to him. ‘While studying, I used to teach slum children, and I decided to get into it full-time,’ he says. Soon, Ramâ€™s brother, V Rajagopalan, presently chairman of Veta – pitched in and began taking English classes at the institute on a part-time basis, balancing it with his job at a quasi-Government concern.
Over time, the brother saw the demand for English classes outstripping that for the other subjects being taught, and four years after opening shop, they changed the business model of the institute to focus entirely on inculcating English reading, writing and communication skills to students in the 18-to-26 age group.
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