Intelcia deepens Caribbean footprint
...enters Jamaican market through build-operate-transfer
Co-founder and CEO of Intelcia Karim Bernoussi (left) and Founding Chairman and CEO of itel Yoni Epstein in conversation during the inauguration of the Intelcia Jamaica site at the New Kingston Business Centre last Thursday, September 22, 2022. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

Global services provider Intelcia has expanded its operation in the Caribbean to three countries with the addition of its Jamaican site, which opened at the New Kingston Business Centre in St Andrew on September 1.

With sites in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, Intelcia Jamaica will become the 85th site for the company which began in Morocco in 2000. The addition of Jamaican site brings to 17 the number of countries in which Intelcia operates and its employees to approximately 40,000.

Currently, Intelcia Jamaica employs 600 people but, given Jamaica's nearshore location to the United States, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Karim Bernoussi has his sights set on increasing that number to 1,000 by next year.

"So today we have just one customer and this customer we serve in Jamaica and in other countries. So in Jamaica, we have today 600-700 people and I believe that — just to be very conservative — by 2023 we will go over 1,000 people working for Intelcia in Jamaica. But after, it [will] depend on our success in terms of client acquisition, and it can go to 2,000, 3,000," he told the Jamaica Observer in his francophone accent, following Intelcia Jamaica's official launch.

"Clearly, if we come here it is not to stay at this level. To tell you if it will be 1,000 or 2,000 or 5,000 in three years — we dream about that, but I cannot tell you exactly when. We will grow for sure," he added.

The CEO also has plans to diversify the local site's offering from basic client relationship management and moving up the value chain to offer information technology outsourcing (ITO) services. At present, Intelcia hires some 400 engineers to provide ITO services from its headquarters in Morocco.

Bernoussi disclosed that the company is now looking to expand this service into other sites including Jamaica.

"So, if tomorrow there is in Jamaica good skilled people in software development and information technology that we can hire, we can hire them to address the US market and others," he said.

He added, too, that while the company has the capabilities to engage in sales and retention activities, it will begin to do so on a phased basis while monitoring the success of the roll-out.

Intelcia currently serves only one customer though its Jamaican site: New York, USA-based telecommunications firm Altice. Altice is also a majority shareholder in the Intelcia.

Intelcia entered the Jamaican market through a build-operate-transfer arrangement with itel, which also has client relationship with Altice. A build-operate-transfer (BOT) is a contractual relationship in which an organisation hires a service provider to set up, optimise and run an IT or business process service delivery operation with the contractually stipulated intent of transferring the operation to the organisation as a captive centre.

As per the arrangement, itel will offload its operations with Altice in Kingston, but will maintain its service to the client from its other locations including in Montego Bay.

Though declining to share the value of the transaction, Bernoussi told Business Observer that Intelcia and itel finalised the BOT transaction in 2019 and oversaw the transfer of the operation in August this year.

"When we met with Yoni [Epstein, founding chairman of itel] four years ago, we had the same customer. And instead of taking all the business that he has and hire people and train again, we decided that in order to preserve the investment that was done by itel and everything," he shared adding that the deal is "profitable for both parties and the client".

In response to a query about plans for further acquisitions, Bernoussi revealed that the company is now prospecting in the US, which he described as having "huge potential".

"Today we are working on acquisition for the US market. As I told you, we are small in the US market. We would like to acquire a company in the US market with US management and with customers from US. So if you look at the possibility, we could acquire a company that already has a site here in Jamaica. The objective is not to acquire a centre here in Jamaica; it's to acquire customers in the US and maybe they would have a centre in Jamaica," he said.

On this note he pointed out that in addition to Jamaica's proximity to the US, Intelcia chose Jamaica because of its talent pool, cultural affinity to the US, and English-speaking capabilities.

Intelcia began operating on September 1, 2022. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)
Josimar Scott

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