EDUCATION throughout Thailand during the last few years of the Covid-19-inspired ‘Zoom Boom’ has largely taken place in a virtual classroom. But for many, remote learning has not been an effective substitute for face-to-face lessons. Growing frustration by online students and teachers who feel unable to connect in the fragmented and often disrupted cyberspace has created a visible learning gap.
This gap became a call to action for the unique ‘online-offline’ Thai homecare platform SAIJAI, co-founded by former hospitality consultant Viona Zhang, whose entrepreneurial ambitions took root during the pandemic. Zhang, who was eager to turn her pursuit of yoga into a functioning business in Bangkok, quickly learned that a problem existed for individual teachers to reach students.
Through considerable trial and error, conducting both online and in-person lessons, she quickly realised how much more connected she felt to her students and how quickly they progressed in a shared, face-to-face learning experience. Her feedback from teaching over the past few years also reinforced the growing need by adults for self-improvement, life learning, and taking time out of hectic work life to pursue their hobbies.
As Zhang says “Covid-19 became the accidental gamechanger of our generation, it has pushed to the forefront how important that a balance be found for work and home, family and health. Consequently, on a personal level as a young female professional leading a start-up, it has also been driven by the belief that the current state of disruption has equally created the single biggest business opportunity of our lives.”
In just over a year SAIJAI’s journey has advanced to the development of a functioning online platform in both Thai and English language. Presently, the model has over 2,000 caregivers and 500 returning customers and is growing daily. The home care services provided not only include tutoring but maids, elderly care, childcare, drivers, home maintenance, and beauty treatments.
“The pandemic has seen home life in Thailand alter course” points out Zhang, adding “there is a return of multi-generational living, chaotic shifting changes in work at home and going to a workplace for busy individuals and families. On-demand services are becoming a key ingredient in the daily lives of Thais.”
But back to the learning journey, with many school-age students looking for home tutoring on core subjects like maths, science, and languages, there is a rising demand on the SAIJAI platform for adults. Many people now recognize that learning doesn’t end when you leave school but face-to-face instruction for subjects ranging from music, yoga, meditation or painting can enrich their daily lives
For Zhang who is managing a small core team and has tapped her past-life connection with investment from the hospitality sector and digital start-up ecosphere, the future holds promise with a forward-looking strategy to tap into the changing lifestyle of Thais and solving problems in a post-Covid-19 marketplace.
Top: The successful team at SAIJAI
Front Page: SAIJAI Co-Founder, Viona Zhang.