Friday, 27 July 2012

Marketing in Mumbai

Mumbai Regional Program Associates

After an intensive 6 day training in Aurangabad, everyone returned to their respective implementing locations. The Regional Program Associates (RPAs) (See our previous post on The Pratham Team to learn more about the RPAs) had their eyes set on signing up schools and kicking off the first stage of the project. We bring you the experiences of our RPAs in Mumbai.

The two RPAs in Mumbai are:
Mahesh Varak Neelakshi Mhatre
Mahesh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Mumbai University and a Master of Computer Application from V.J.T.I. College. He has also completed courses in Hardware and Networking from Pune University. He was first a volunteer with Pratham in the ‘Utkarsh’ program.Neelakshi obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Mumbai University. She has also done courses in HTML and Java programming. She is currently preparing for her IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel Selection) exam. This is Neelakshi’s first full time job.

Approaching Schools

Mahesh and Neelakshi began approaching schools to:
  1. Showcase the 'Learn, Out of the Box' solution to the management and teachers 
  2. Gauge their interest in the solution 
  3. Assess if the school is the right fit for the project. Some of the things they were looking for included:
    • Our target segment 
    • Connectivity 
    • Infrastructure 
    • Management & teacher sincerity to use the solution 
  4. Get them to agree to be a part of the project
Since it was Mahesh and Neelakshi’s first time approaching schools for this project, they decided to visit the first two schools together to support each other. Additionally, by observing each other, they also were learning the best way to bring schools into the project. Subsequently, they split up and began approaching schools individually.

When Mahesh and Neelakshi visited schools, they first met with the management and introduced Pratham. They proceeded to provide an overview of the project and the solution, and demonstrated how to use it. The experience so far has shown that, during this stage, it was better to avoid the nitty-gritty technical details regarding usage of the system (such as how to use the Enterprise Resource Planning system), as this was quite confusing for first time viewers.

In addition to speaking with management, the Science and Mathematics teachers of the schools were also called in to view the demonstration of the WebBox.

If the management was interested in the program, the RPAs then scheduled a meeting with the trustees of the school, who will make the final decision on the school’s participation in the project, and subsequently move to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with them.

Both Mahesh and Neelakshi found that teachers and management are very interested in the project and the content, and feel that it is something which can benefit the students of their schools.

The only apprehension schools have is that they think they may incur some costs for the implementation of the program. This is a legitimate concern for schools which don’t have access to large resource pools; however, once they were assured that there would be no added costs; they voiced their interest in being part of the project.

In many of the schools they visited, the team also found that management and teachers did not have access to computers, and therefore also to the internet. Thus, the WebBox could also serve to build on the schools information and communication technology capacity, going beyond the current scope of the program.

Currently we have schools that have expressed their interest, and we hope to sign MoUs with them soon. We look forward to welcoming schools to the program and will keep you updated on the progress in Mumbai, as well as elsewhere in the country.