Saturday, May 17, 2008

WiFi Franchise in Sri Lanka

I was introduced to another communication center microfranchise called EasySeva in Sri Lanka similar to the n-Logue or ONE Roof models I have covered previously.  I was informed they have 23 outlets and expect to have 55 outlets by the end of the summer.  It is a private, for-profit Sri Lankan company with a holding company in the U.S. but the seed funding was awarded in a contract with USAID.  The model of EasySeva relies on corporate partnerships to actually provide the services, including Dialog Telekom, Qualcomm, National Development Bank, Lanka Orix, and Microsoft.  They are also working in collaboration with the business school at USC.  After proving the model they will seek private investment. 

That combination of for-profit, government, academic, corporate, and private investment is instructive for those who are considering building a microfranchise operation.  I think it illustrates an effective handoff from public to private support as well as aligning interests with major corporate partners.  The corporate partners are truly that, partners, they are not donors, they have a particular interest in reaching a new market that without EasySeva they would not be able to reach.  

Another element about EasySeva that strikes me is the use of high technology.  Just as cell phones have exploded in the developing world, completely leap-frogging the technology of land lines, WiFi is posed to do the same thing in broadband connectivity.  The broadband wireless technology will allow VoIP connections to allow international phone calls at a cost 40-50% less than their nearest competitor. 

They have ambitious goals to open 400-500 outlets in the next 3-4 years and then expand into the thousands on the subcontinent.  Another one to watch.  

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