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My franchise story: From the kitchen table to a global education empire

My franchise story: From the kitchen table to a global education empire

Helen Doron Educational Group is revolutionising education, leading the change, and making a difference internationally

In 1985, living in a small, pastoral mountaintop village, Helen signed up her four-year-old daughter, Ella, her eldest of three children, for violin lessons in the nearby town. Those lessons were unique, teaching children how to play according to the Suzuki Method: first learn how to play by hearing recordings of the music being learnt at home every day in the background and getting positive reinforcement by the teacher in the class. Only when older would they learn how to read notes. This was just as children learn to speak their mother tongue by first understanding and speaking, and only then reading and writing.

As a linguistic scientist and university teacher of English, Helen thought that it was amazing to have a system of teaching music that imitates the way children learn their mother tongue. However, she realised that this is the way languages should also be taught: between lessons with repeated home background hearing of the language being taught, and teachers trained for positive reinforcement so the child feels successful.

So, a new method was born for children to be taught English easily and naturally, focusing on repeated background hearing and positive reinforcement of their efforts to speak – teaching a foreign language in the same way children learn their mother tongue at home, repeated background hearing, using songs, rhymes, movement, dancing, jumping, playing and many more activities kids like to do.

The young linguist started to record songs, rhymes, and short stories from her rural home, using her unique skills to teach English to children from nearby communities. The rumour about “the English teacher who teaches kids in a way you have never seen before” quickly spread, and Helen started to receive phone calls from different areas all over the country, asking her to come and teach their kids in the same way. “That was the moment I understood I had created a business”, Helen reflects.

Educating the world, one child at a time

As a result of the high demand, Helen started to train English teachers to teach using the method she developed: fun, joyful, natural, and full of positive reinforcement. As fast as the word spread locally, the news of the innovative, effective methodology arrived abroad as well.

In 1998, Helen sold her first Helen Doron English franchise to a franchisee in Austria, quickly followed by Germany, Poland, Italy, and more and more countries. As of today, passionate educators from around the world have joined the franchise family, and there are more than 1,200 Helen Doron learning centres and Kindergartens in 38 countries around the world, with a total of over three million students throughout the years.

Starting with local kids using homemade cassette tapes in peripheral areas, to a global education leader with more than 100 master franchisees and over 5,000 active certified Helen Doron teachers at present around the world, the company’s success skyrocketed with currently 170,000 active students.

Known as Helen Doron English, the company continued its growth, adding a unique mathematics franchise, and Helen Doron International for kindergartens and primary under the Helen Doron Educational Group (HDEG) umbrella.

HDEG was selected Best Children’s & Education Franchise in the world in 2019, and as a Global Mentor in 2020 and 2021, by the prestigious Global Franchise magazine.

Celebrating franchisee success

Dozens of master franchisees are celebrating 20-plus, 15, and 10-year anniversaries with the company. There are a variety of promotional opportunities from within to maintain people already in the network by providing them with multiple growth prospects:

  • Students who become teachers
  • Parents who become franchisees
  • Teachers who become franchisees
  • LCFs who become MFs.

Also, there are many families who joined and stayed in the network – the group even has multigenerational teachers.

In a commitment to diversity and inclusion, the global children’s educational franchise notably empowers women and enables them to succeed in business. A glance at the roster of the company shows that 75 per cent of the top management of the company are female, 85 per cent of the 100 master franchisees and 85 per cent of the 1,200 Learning Centre franchises are owned and run by women. Many of the company’s master franchisees have won prestigious awards, as well.

Providing unparalleled support

HDEG’s professional team provides support from start-up assistance through marketing, as well as sales, organisational, administrative, and pedagogic training. The business model is based on ongoing communication for each franchise to run smoothly and successfully.

Each master franchisee is assigned a dedicated account manager and receives frequent keep-in-touch calls and field visits to ensure that the opportunity is being maximised. Each and every franchisee in the network also receives ongoing business training, as well as comprehensive guidelines and manuals to help business owners in their initial steps.

Furthermore, all HDEG franchisees are encouraged to support one another through dedicated marketing and business support groups on Facebook, and annual franchise conferences bring together the entire network for training, education, celebration and reflection.

A business built on ethics and values

Values such as caring, tolerance and compassion for others and all living creatures, together with familiarising children with the concept of taking responsibility for the environment, are at the forefront of all pedagogic materials and methods.

This brings tremendous value to Helen Doron students, by focusing not only on lessons but the additional benefit of nourishing the child’s natural curiosity and empathy. These ethics are absorbed and engrained in childhood and naturally become their blueprint for life.

It is, therefore, no surprise that so many Helen Doron students grow up to become Helen Doron teachers themselves, passing on the lifelong values and skills that they learnt as children in the global network.

HDEG’s yearly global campaigns emphasise different aspects of these values, empowering even the youngest students to make a real difference in their communities.

For example, the Young Heroes global campaigns are run yearly and manifest the principle of “More than English. Values for Life”, each one with a different focus. The campaign is led by headquarters’ guidelines and tools, including themed lessons, an original song and a marketing package, localised by the franchisees to best suit their country’s and students’ cultures.

The prizes are contributed to nonprofit organizations to promote the campaign cause and company values. This helps franchisees in promoting their business as high-standard education providers.

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