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Education Specialist, works as educational counselors addressing a variety of student challenges.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

What Can Be Done To Make Rural Entrepreneurship Successful In Asia?

With the growing challenges in the corporate world, most countries around the world are struggling to improve their economy. But can education help a nation in improving its economic performance?
In Asia, more than 50 per cent of the population still resides in villages and rural areas. However, this number is reducing....rapidly. Nowadays, most of the villagers, who are mostly reliant on agriculture, are now moving into the bigger cities in search of better opportunities. As a result many of the Asian mega-cities like Manila and Mumbai have become overcrowded and unsustainable. The rural migration rate is specifically high in China where almost 100 cities have over 1 million people. In contrast, the United Kingdom has only 2 overcrowded cities, Birmingham and London.

So what is the solution?

What can be done to prevent these villagers from leaving the rural areas? The answer is simple. We need to give them a worthwhile reason to stay in their villages. The key question here is how?
One of the most effective solutions is Rural Entrepreneurship, a theme which has gained prominence in the Purpose Economy Asia 100 prepared by Imperative, an US-based career consultancy.

Money comes first

Most business leaders and experts know that you need to money in order to make money. Currently Micro-Finance is the most suitable option which can enable the rural residents to start their own local business ventures. Micro- Finance, primarily Asian in origin, was propagated initially in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Prize winner. Later it became popular in India and other developing economies.
Chetna Sinha, Founder of the co-operative bank Mann Deshi Mahila Bank in Maharashtra, India, says, “If people aren't able to access a micro-finance loan, then they will go to loan sharks”. Sinha, who was titled India's Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the Schwab Foundation recently, confirms that usually unlicensed moneylenders tend to charge high compound interest rates which can range from 20 per cent to 120 per cent.
However, Micro- Finance is not the sole option for these villagers as there are several other innovative loan options available for them. Mann Deshi Mahila Bank also provides specifically designed insurance products, pension services, individualised loans and savings accounts to their rural clients. Meanwhile in Myanmar, a social enterprise named Proximity Designs offers farm finance packages which gives loans for the planting and growing season. Moreover, the payments can also be delayed until the harvest.
Even though there are many rural finance options available now, but the fact remains that the loan amounts are usually very small and the interest rates are rather high for the villagers. Hence it becomes a daunting task for them to create a satisfactory credit score and be eligible for bigger sums.

Is Finance enough for successful Rural Entrepreneurship?

No. Actually it’s far from being enough. The main challenge lies elsewhere. Most of the time aspiring entrepreneurs in rural regions feel handicapped by their lack of relevant business knowledge, skills, entrepreneurial motivation, market awareness, and leadership & communication skills.
The factor which needs the most focus here is developing adequate entrepreneurial motivation and drive. The General Secretary of Sri Lanka's Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, Vinya Ariyaratne, says, “You need to change the mindset of people. That is, (teaching them) that they can do things on their own without relying on external resources to come to the village, in particular the government”.
Sarvodaya works with about 15,000 villages and helps the residents to start new business ventures by providing training, collective thinking and dialogue and establishing community institutes. Vinya Ariyaratne, who was also chosen for the Schwab Foundation's award, says, “Other organisations see poverty basically as a problem with income and straight away start microfinance and so on. But we believe development needs to encompass … spiritual, moral and cultural development too”.

What can be else done provide necessary training to rural residents on a large scale?

How can the potential entrepreneurs in villages across Asia learn about business without feeling any financial burden? The solution is right in front of us...Online Education. Earning a business diploma study online can help the villagers prepare for Rural Entrepreneurship.
However, it would firstly require the respective governments to greatly enhance the existing infrastructure in the villages, so that they can access the internet. But the good news is many villages across the continent already have internet accessibility. Hence online diploma programmes like MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) can help them to learn relevant skills and gain business knowledge that will enable them to start their own business ventures. This would in turn improve the overall economy of the region and add to the national economy as well.
As a nation’s economy largely depends on different industries that have varied effects in the global market, the education level of the citizens, both urban and rural, greatly contributes towards its economic performance. Thus developing countries need to focus on improving the education system, both online and on-campus, so that more entrepreneurs and skilled workers can be created to support various industries. Moreover, the principle that every individual has a right to education has given rise to a movement for improvement of education.
By providing higher education opportunities to the rural population through online learning modes, we can enable them to be self-sufficient and contribute to their local economy. This will certainly prove to be an effective measure in persuading the villagers to remain and prosper in their own villages.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Experts Concerned About Falling Number of Full Time MBA Applicants

It has been observed that executives tend to avoid business degrees when the economy looks good in order to progress their careers. But the same business executives start running in groups towards business schools when the economy looks sluggish as MBA degrees helps them to climb the corporate ladder. However, this observation does not hold true anymore as the recent recession has completely changed the market and the business world.
Rise in MBA Applicants in US & Europe

Experts are now looking forward to the number of MBA applicants in the US this year as economies in North America and Western Europe are getting stronger. Although many leading B-schools in US have not yet reported their application figures, but some of the renowned schools have claimed a noticeable rise in the class of 2016. The UCLA Anderson School of Management has reported an increase in applications by 32%, while at Kenan–Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, there has been a rise of 28% in enrolments. Moreover, the US Department of Education has also confirmed that the number of master’s levels students pursuing business degrees was higher than those studying education degrees.
Growing Concerns of Education Experts

However, several admissions directors believe that all this data is unreliable and misleading. Niki da Silva, Admissions Director at Rotman Schoolof Management, University of Toronto, says, “It seems that there is a small number of programmes that are doing well, but the rest of the market is flat”. In fact, most of the reputed business schools are now making extra effort to attract more students. Phil Carter of Imperial College London says, “It’s forced us to proactively look for the right leads”.
Gareth Howells, MBA Programme Director at London Business School believes that it is foolish to think that the MBA market can go back to the 2008 levels. He says, “The protracted nature of the downturn ripped up the rule book on a lot of issues.” Currently, the business education market has become segmented and very complicated. The fact is online and part-time MBA programmes are severely affecting the market share of the traditional full-time programmes. Furthermore, specialised master’s qualifications and professional degrees like the CFA have also posed serious threat to the full-time MBA programmes.
Increasing Demand for One Year MBA

ChristineSneva, the Executive Director of MBA admissions at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management in Cornell University, points out another aspect. She says that European model of business education is progressively becoming more threatening for the conventional 2 year MBA degree programmes in the US. She says “Europe has been the leader in looking at what flexibility meant to people.”
KateSmith, Head of Admissions, at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, assures that the school is currently planning to attract more students for it 1 year MBA programme. Admissions Consultant Stacy Blackman also believes that the popularity of 1 year MBA programmes is growing exponentially as nowadays most students apply for both 1 year and 2 year degrees. She says, “People are just seeing that you can accomplish an MBA in one year and it is very effective”.
Emergence of Undergraduate Business Programmes

Another factor directly affecting the number of students applying for full time MBAs is the rise in business management programmes for younger learners. As a result, most recent graduates or undergraduates are gaining knowledge in business. Paul Danos, Dean of the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, says, “In the future we are going to be teaching an array of programmes. Before everybody lived or died with the applications for the MBA, now we’re getting demand at every level”.
Growth in Applications, Not Applicants
However, the real doubt regarding the figures arises from the fact that MBA aspirants now tend to make more applications. According to Admissions Consultant Stacy Blackman, earlier applicants would apply to only 2-3 business schools; but now most candidates apply to 4-5 schools. This results in the rising number of applications (40%), but not the actual number of applicants.
Whether increased applications will finally result in increased number of students can be found out only in September-October, when students get enrolled into the business schools.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Business Education- 3 Simple Steps For Reinventing B-Schools

Business schools have effectively created generations of business leaders through their MBA programmes for years. These MBAs eventually became successful managers, executives, management partners and managing directors. However this does not hold true anymore. What proved to be effective in the past is becoming redundant now. As the business world is continuously changing, there is an urgent need for constant restructuring and reinventing business schools, careers and organisations.
In this intensely competitive and complex corporate world, educational models should be developed in way that it becomes relevant for the current scenario. Here are 3 basic and yet effective suggestions for business schools around the world to revamp and rebuild an obsolete educational system-
Hard Skills Are Not Enough, Teach Creative Problem-Solving Skills

The old operating manuals for achieving success have become useless now. Our future business leaders need to develop the abilities to improvise and find innovative solutions in real time to face unique challenges present in the global market place. Hence B-schools need to prepare their students to counter future challenges by enabling them to think productively instead of simply going through the motions.
Business schools must design projects, coursework and assignments that would help the students to develop creative as well as analytical thinking. It is only by providing the students the opportunity to gain experience in effective decision making in the face of uncertainty, B-schools can offer more valuable training than simply teaching them to calculate discounted cash flows. They should be encouraged to take calculated and responsible risks and provide solutions to creative challenges.
Create Modern Business Leaders Instead of ‘Old School’ Leaders

Conventional business schools create business leaders in the old-school “boss” model where a single leader instructs and leads the team. MBAs who become business leaders usually act like Orchestra Conductors. Although they do not play any musical instruments, they guide their teams to stick to the notes, written on a page, with accuracy and precision. Even though this model might have proved fruitful earlier, today business leaders need to act Jazz Musicians, instead of Orchestra Conductors. They need to form small groups of skilled employees involved in an ongoing and open-ended process of exploration, innovation and creativity. Innovation will flourish when calculated risk-taking will precede compliance.
Create Leaders Who Focus Talent Development Rather Than Management Systems

Earlier, the focus of business models was on developing repeatable and tightly functioning management systems. However, at present, markets around the world are changing continuously and have become more fluid as well. Thus, now leadership needs to focus more on developing talent instead of strengthening fault-tolerant processes.
Today ongoing creative disruption has gained prominence over rigid management procedures as the way towards success. Successful business leaders are now augmenting their impact through the employees they have trained and developed, instead of concentrating on enforcing the rules they have formed. Currently, businesses require leaders who will be able to increase their leadership capabilities, rather than just complying with directives.
Modifying Approach to Create Future Leaders

In order to remain relevant and sustain in the rapidly transforming corporate world, business schools must modify and alter their approach. Today’s business leaders need to be creative and should be able to transform, disrupt and reinvent on an ongoing basis in order to achieve their business goals. Faculty and administrators of B-schools should also follow the same approach if they wish to create excellent business leaders for the future.

Friday, 6 June 2014

MBA- Now Faster, Shorter and Cheaper

Do you want to earn a management diploma or degree, but don’t have the time needed for a full time course? Can an online programme help you achieve your targets?

First let’s look at some facts....

The demand for MBA degrees is increasing wildly among students, professionals and employers across the globe. A new survey from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) reveals that employers plan to recruit more business graduates in 2014. According to the study, around 80 per cent of recruiters plan to hire MBAs, which is a 7 per cent increase from last year.
According to the President and CEO of GMAC, Sangeet Chowfla, the growth in demand is seen across all sectors, industries and countries. He says, “MBAs have always been valued by employers, but this survey shows that as the economy improves, employers see MBAs as a good investment into their future.”

Now that we know about the prospects of studying business, let’s find out what type of MBA programmes will allow you to learn what you want as quickly as possible?

Luckily a number of institutes and B-schools are offering one year business management programmes, both online and on-campus, that will allow you to get the qualification you want within the time you want. Short postgraduate diploma courses are perhaps the perfect option for those who don’t have the time to invest in a full time course. You can complete these courses within a few months and start your career fast.

Why choose short MBA programmes?

Postgraduate Diploma in Management and other short MBA courses help you to gain knowledge about your area of specialisation and enable you to develop specific skills. As the courses focus on the basics of each subject matter, you can develop a comprehensive idea about business management in a short period of time.

On the other hand, full time MBA courses take a lot of time to complete and are much longer than the short courses. Moreover pursuing a traditional MBA degree from a recognised B-school in US or UK will cost you a lot of cash. However, the return on investment is much lower than that of online courses and other shorter programmes. Graduates from US business schools get jobs that offer only minimal increment from their previous careers. According to the latest MBA rankings published by The Economist, graduates from Harvard Business School get only a $10,000 increment in their immediate post-MBA careers.

Are shorter MBA courses financially beneficial?

Currently the demand for shorter management programmes, particularly online Executive MBA programmes, is increasing exponentially worldwide. According to The Economist, recent studies show that shorter and affordable MBA programmes offer you more value for your money. The latest MBA rankings, which are entirely based on return on investment, published by the newspaper supports this claim.
Generally, MBA students are compelled to move out of employment in order to pursue their qualification. Moreover business school students tend to spend more than $100,000 in getting a recognised MBA degree from a reputed institute. Hence it is important that you get proper returns on your business management tuition fees.

Here comes the advantage of cheaper and smaller schools which offer you the best value for your investment. HEC Paris is in top of the new MBA rankings list and is regarded as the most economical business school in the world. Although the institute maintains a lower profile than leading B-schools in the US, it is still a reputed and prestigious institution. Graduates from HEC Paris are able to earn enough money that they can pay off their student debts within just 2 years.

What benefits can you expect from short online MBA programmes?

Shorter and cheaper online MBA degrees and Business diploma programs offer much better returns to students across the globe. However, these online programmes also offer various other benefits for the graduates. After earning an online postgraduate diploma or degree in business, you will get much better job opportunities and make smoother career transition. Moreover you will able to build a rewarding career in your desired industry without having any geographical restrictions.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Online Courses: What is so attractive about them?

Online education is making its presence felt in a big way throughout the world. India is no exception to this worldwide trend. Take the example of Milan Sharma who is a software engineer and works at a travel firm. Though keen to gain new skills in upcoming technologies like big data analytics, his day job prevented him from fulfilling his wish. But that was before he opted for an online course with Edureka. As he says"The beauty of online courses is that it gives you flexibility and easy access to course content.” Lack of qualified teachers, professionals pressed for time and high education fees are all contributing to a rising demand for online learning that is catered to by a number of new startup ventures.

"We have more than 20,000 paid students right from Seoul in South Korea to Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh," said Lovleen Bhatia, co-founder of Bangalore-based Edureka. According to his expectation his company will earn a revenue to the tune Rs 30 crore in fiscal 2015.  Edureka started its operations in 2012 and offers courses in areas such as development of mobile applications and big data for professionals at fees ranging from 12,000 to 30,000. Edureka along with other online educators like handa ka funda and Jigsaw Academy put into good use a combination of live interactive sessions, animation to explain a concept in addition to flexible schedules and constant feedback.

The cost of online courses is just another incentive for students to sign up for such courses. "A typical course for CAT preparation offline would cost around Rs 30,000 to Rs 45,000 depending on the city. The costliest course we offer through our online platform is priced at Rs 4,000," said Ravi Handa, founder of handa ka funda.com, which had its inception in January 2013.

"We have seen tremendous response to online education," said Jigsaw Academy co-founder Gaurav Vohra, who started the company to offer courses in analytics.

The expectation of the company is to earn a revenue to the tune of Rs 40 crore in the next two years. According to experts courses have a market with tremendous potential with its reach of students from small town to metropolitan cities.

"Education is a lifelong investment, everyone wants the best in class education," said Pragya Singh, assistant vice president for retail at advisory firm Technopak. The lure of online courses isn’t limited to professionals, even school kids are looking forward to online help. One firm which caters to such students is the Bangalore-based Vedantu.com, founded by five childhood friends Anand Prakash, 33, Pulkit Jain, 30, Saurabh Saxena, 31, Vamsi Krishna, 30, and Ujjawal Misra, 30 . Vedantu is the second educational venture for this team of IITians, who sold traditional physical entrance preparation institute Lakshya to MTEducare in 2012.

"Online tutorial is catching up not only in India but globally, and I see potential for great scale," said angel investor VN Ramaswamy, who invested Rs 2 crore in Vedantu.com last year. Having an annual turnover of Rs.30 lakh, its expectations are to earn Rs 1 crore in fiscal 2015. 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Study: M.B.A. Now Most Popular Master’s Degree

The MBA has now surpassed Education as the most popular postgraduate degree in the U.S. for the first time in its long and cherished history as statistics from the U.S. Department of Education testify.

In the last year of available data 191,571 people graduated from business schools in the U.S. which amounts to about 25.4% of all the master’s degrees conferred compared with 178,062 students who successfully completed their master’s in education, or 23.6% of all the advanced degrees. Education has long been the dominant field as far as master degrees are concerned partly due to the fact that in some states like Massachusetts it is required to teach. In the 70’s education accounted for a towering 37.2% of all master’s conferred.

What is The growth story of the MBA? Ever wondered?

The growth story of the MBA is largely due to the fact that it has widespread acceptance by employers and the assurance of return on the investment, with a certainty to a considerable extent. Srilata Zaheer, dean of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, has seen the transformative power of the degree with her own eyes. “A business degree remains one of the most predictable paths to success and financial stability and can provide the proverbial leg up from relative poverty to great accomplishment and wealth,” she maintains. “In uncertain times, such as we have had since 2008, it tends to draw more students who make this connection.  

We have any number of alumni from our MBA programs who have come from small towns, modest backgrounds, often the first generation in college, going on to become immensely successful entrepreneurs and leaders of global firms.” She gives the example of John Stumpf, chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo. “He grew up in a farm family of 11 children in Pierz, MN, sharing a bedroom with his brothers, and being the first in his family to go to college,” she remembers. Paul Danos, dean of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and the longest serving leader of a major B-school, is of the opinion that the growth has been driven by schools that have adapted to the changing needs of the companies and organizations that hire MBAs.

It's Time - Change the MBA

The MBA has in the recent past has experienced something of a overhaul with many prospective MBA candidates  voicing their requirement for more focus on entrepreneurship in the course over a curriculum that pays more attention towards finance and consulting. Growth has also been observed in programs that focus on the not for profit sector and social entrepreneurship.

According to Danos “Businesses have grown enormously in complexity and scope, and more than ever, they need ethical, skilled, well-educated, creative leaders who are global in outlook,” “Business education in general and the great MBA programs in particular have adapted as these demands have grown, perhaps better than any other form of advanced education.” As he continues “Top business schools have continuously changed in response to the ever-changing demands of business; and this can be seen in how crucial issues such as: ethics, sustainability, leadership, technology, globalization and much more have been mainstreamed into MBA programs along with the classic core topics of business management.”