At a time when the biggies of real estate are divesting non core businesses, a clutch of mid-level developers are chalking up plans to invest in the 'recession proof' education sector. In the last one month, four real estate developers have announced plans of setting up business schools across the country with the combined investment exceeding INR 500 crore. 'It's a natural progression for a real estate developer to foray into the sector which offers such a tremendous growth potential. There is a shortage of supply in the education sector which we feel we can successfully cater to,' says Pranav Ansal, Chairman, Ansal API. With diminished demand for housing and a cash constraint, it's a natural progression for many developers with available land banks. The Chennai based R. R Industries, Ahmedabad based Omega Realty, Delhi based Ansal Plaza and Kolhapur based Sanjay Ghodawat group are betting heavily on the `business of education' to diversify their businesses; a model that has worked successfully in some countries like US and Canada.
The Delhi based Ansal API plans to invest INR 200 crore in next three to five years for setting up private schools, engineering institute across various centre in the country. The group has already tied up with e-learning service provider Educomp and has leased out its three operational schools in Gurgaon to Educomp. The realty major also plans to build school in townships being developed by them. Similarly, the Ahmedabad based Omega Realty plans to get into business schools – to be named as United World School of Business – with a proposed investment of INR 105 crores. The three proposed schools in Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad will commence operations in academic session 2009-10. Another builder to jump into the education bandwagon, the Kolhapur based Sanjay Godhwat Group plans to offer courses in engineering, management and also in the pipeline is an international school. The development of the 150 acre Sanjay Godhwat Institute will happen in three phases with an investment of over INR 250 crore. The trend is being seen amongst the builders in south too. Chennai based real estate firm R. R Industries has tied up with National Management School (NMS) which is being set-up by US academics to start 25 business schools across the country with an estimated cost of INR 9 crore. Experts say the reason for the rush into education is the burgeoning demand supply gap and also a logical extension into an adjacent category for builders who have the necessary wherewithal.