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Thursday, March 31, 2011

HELP International Corp sees potential in Sri Lanka and Cambodia

It also intends to franchise education programmes in Mideast and Africa KUALA LUMPUR: HELP International Corp Bhd (HIC) is looking to expand into Sri Lanka, Cambodia, the Middle East and Africa to franchise its education programmes as well as offer professional niche courses for business continuity to rev up its revenue stream. Group chief executive Datin Chan-Low Kam Yoke said the company would be expanding into Sri Lanka and Cambodia by the third quarter and the Middle East and Africa probably by the first quarter of next year. “Sri Lanka and Cambodia are potential markets for the group. The former, for example, has a growing demand for good education coupled with rapid development taking shape in the country. In addition, the culture and history is almost similar to that of Malaysia and this bodes well for HIC to venture there,'' she said in an interview. Although the population of Cambodia was relatively small, Low said the economy was picking up, further strengthened by the discovery of oil reserves there.

Datuk Dr Paul Chan Tuck Hoong and Datin Chan- Low Kam Yoke looking at a model of its Subang 2 campus.

Since Cambodia was progressing and forthcoming in education, she added, the company felt it was a good market for the group to expand into.

Low said its colleges in the country were receiving good response from Middle East students and expected 100 plus students, which she described as a conservative figure, to enrol at its campuses by the third quarter.

Currently, 80% of HIC's revenue is derived from its local student population.

The group also has presence in Indonesia, Vietnam and China.

To date, it has more than 10,000 students in total at its campuses in Pusat BandarDamansara and Sungei Besi. It planned to set up two more in Subang 2 (near Sungei Buloh) slated in 2013 and Seri Alam in Johor in 2016.

HELP University College, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary today, is among the few listed education groups in the country which are constantly on the radar of investors.

The co-founders are Low and her husband, who is HELP University College president Datuk Dr Paul Chan Tuck Hoong.

For its first quarter ended Jan 31, HIC posted a higher net profit of RM2.73mil against RM2.42mil in the previous corresponding period. Revenue stood at RM24.3mil against RM23.5mil previously.

The group's net profit for the financial year ended Oct 31 (FY10) was RM19.1mil as opposed to RM15.5mil FY09, while revenue stood at RM105.2mil compared with RM96.6mil previously.

Chan, who is also the group president of HIC, said in collaboration with foreign universities, HELP University College planned to offer professional niche courses designed for CEOs and policy makers to prepare them to handle crises effectively, for example the nuclear crisis in Japan, among others.

He said the professional development courses would probably take off by year-end, adding that this was to ensure continuity of a business in the event of a catastrophe or crisis that would hinder growth and sustainability.

Chan said, for a start, it would get international experts in relevant expertise to conduct training at HELP colleges.

Online learning was another important source of revenue for the group as offering such courses would help to cut costs substantially and facilitate global reach of students, he said, adding that online learning was part of the group's Internationalisation, Diversification and Expansion strategy.

In this regard, it recently entered into a collaboration with Pearson e-College, a leading platform provider for top online universities in the US, and was also finalising investment in a Swiss online learning company that focused on the corporate sector.

HIC, in collaboration with the Naza Group, would also be setting up the country's first comprehensive automotive college.

The college of automotive and transportation management would offer programmes ranging from certificate to master's degrees and vocational training relevant to the industry to address the shortage of skilled workers faced by the sector.

The college would be run by a 50:50 joint venture company set up by Naza and HIC.

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