Sylvan Learning Expanding Franchise Business Overseas


Mar 26, 2018

Enrichment and supplemental education provider Sylvan Learning has just announced development plans for Saudi Arabia. This children's education franchise business currently has more than 750 locations in North America, along with centers in Guam, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain. The newest planned center will mark its entry into Saudi Arabia.

For this expansion of the brand, the educational franchiser has partnered with Haitham Ahmed, who has spent his life in education and and is currently serving as chairman and assistant professor in the King Abdulaziz University's Mining Engineering Department in Saudi Arabia. When he was a civil engineer, Ahmed decided to go to North America to get his master's degree and PhD. When he was studying in British Columbia, the local teachers' union went on strike, so Ahmed enrolled his then-seven-year-old son in a Sylvan center as a temporary replacement for school until the strike ended. The professor was immediately interested in Sylvan's personalized approach to learning, its use of technology and its ability to look forward, and he noticed children were motivated to go there. Ahmed ended up keeping his son in the center's program for a year before returning to Saudi Arabia.

Upon his return home, Ahmed said that when his son had interviews for schools, the interviewers kept commenting on his high level of intelligence. Ahmed believes that the improvements in his son's English and math that Sylvan fostered allowed the child to become more confident.

He was interested in the brand, so Ahmed began to look at franchise opportunities to develop centers in Saudi Arabia. The professor was impressed by the franchiser's expertise in its core reading, study skills, homework help, text prep and math programs. As an engineer, Ahmed was also intrigued by the brand's superior STEM product line, which includes engineering, robotics, coding and its Math and Algebra EDGE programs.

Working with his wife, Ghadeer Alwai, Ahmed expects to open the first Sylvan center in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in early 2018. Alwai is an interior designer, so she is working on a design for the center that will be appealing to Saudis. The couple's goal is to open 10 to 12 locations over the next decade as they expand across Saudi Arabia.

Brand CEO John McAuliffe said the education franchiser has been growing steadily and that the expansion into Saudi Arabia is another example of the company's dedication to finding the right franchisees to bring their programs to children all over the world. He added that the brand hopes to see more locations in new countries and US cities throughout 2018.

With more than three decades of experience in the education industry, Sylvan is currently expanding in many US markets and expects to target India, Latin America and the Caribbean going forward. To qualify for one of these franchise opportunities, applicants must have a net worth of at least $150,000, with $75,000 or more liquid. The franchise fee is $24,000, and the initial investment ranges from $70,980 to $159,890.

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