Business

Overseas businesses now in Jamaica scouting for BPO business opportunities

BPO sector making headway in having SEZ regulations concerns addressed

BY DURRANT PATE
Observer business writer

Sunday, November 10, 2019

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A number of overseas companies involved in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) are now in the island scouting for business prospects with the possibility of setting up operations locally.

The group is part of the three-day CX Nearshore Jamaica Mission, which is an invitation- only mission, promoting Jamaica as the leading BPO location.

Business executives, who have demonstrated an interest in Jamaica's BPO capabilities, have been invited to the island to explore investment opportunities in the industry.

They will explore Jamaica through an itinerary of meetings, stakeholder engagements, site visits and tours. The purpose of the mission is to drive awareness of Jamaica as a business destination, whilst generating investments in the BPO sector.

Jamaica's trade promotions agency, JAMPRO is sponsoring the CX Nearshore Jamaica Mission for the second time. The mission is led by Nearshore America, which is considered a leading research and media authority on nearshore outsourcing services and is very influential in the industry.

As part of the mission, the visiting business leaders yesterday participated in the CX Jamaica 2019 panel discussion, where they were immersed in the Jamaican BPO sector. The panellists were drawn from three of Jamaica's leading BPO companies; intelbpo, IBEX and Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) along with vice-president of sales and promotions at JAMPRO Ricardo Durrant and National Outsourcing Coordinator, Roger Williams.

The panelists including Yoni Epstein, founder and CEO of intelbpo; Jaime Vergara, Jamaica country manager for IBEX and Anand Biradar, Jamaica country manager for HGS shared their experiences in the industry, where Jamaica is the leading outsourcing location in the English-speaking Caribbean with more than 60 companies offering call centre and BPO services locally. Twenty-four of these companies have been operating over the last five years and 11 of them have been in business for more than 10 years.

GRAVE DIFFICULTIES TRANSITIONING TO NEW

The panellists were quizzed about the vexed issues surrounding the BPO industry transitioning to the new Special Economic Zone (SEZ) regime from the old free zone system, which comes to an end on December 31, 2019.

They made the point that the regulations governing the new SEZ regime, in its current state, poses serious challenges for BPOs, which traditionally tend to operate in free-zones such as Montego Bay Freeport.

They say in its present form the regulations make it difficult to operate and therefore the transitioning has not been smooth.

Williams, the national outsourcing coordinator noted that the application process has been the most problematic for BPOs, relative to the experience with the free zone regime.

“There have been several discussions with JAMPRO, Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica have been facilitating with and the various stakeholders, including the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority and Government of Jamaica and where we are now is that we are all aligned on where we ought to be,” Williams explained.

He said the issue has gone as far as the prime minister and the interested parties involved have come to some consensus.

In addition JAMPRO has hired a consultant to go through the entire Special Economic Zone Act and has arrived at a set of proposals regarding improving the legislation taking into account the concerns raised by the BPO sector.

Williams expressed the hope that come the end of this year the concerns would have been addressed so all parties can move forward.

For his part, Epstein made the point that the report from the consultant has clearly stated the changes that need to happen to move forward.

“However, that is not going to stop the growth that Jamaica is been seeing today, tomorrow…it is merely a bump in the road...we can't let legislation stop the growth of the country,” Epstein said.


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