BPO industry hails fast-tracking role of business incubator
Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
Western Bureau: Stakeholders in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry have welcomed the planned establishment of a 200-seat business incubator in the Montego Bay Free Zone, slated to become fully operational by December 2014.
The facility, the first of its kind in the region, is designed to fast-track the entry of new BPO companies, while facilitating expansion for current investors operating in the free zone. The project is slated to cost J$13.5 million and will facilitate four start-up BPO operations for a period of one year.
"This is fantastic for our industry," said Karl O. Graham, president and chief executive officer of Fullgram International Call Centres in St Andrew.
"It gives new investors the opportunity to begin operating in a turnkey facility, without the red tape of starting up a business."
Graham added: "In fact, it takes out about 75 per cent of the headache of starting up a business, as the investor will only need to market themselves properly and get things going, as everything needed for day-to-day operation will be in place."
Julian Robinson, state minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, noted that the initiative was expected to trigger growth, enhance market access, and spur new jobs in information communication technology (ICT). He was speaking during the signing of a partnership agreement between Columbus Business Solutions (CBS), which trades as Flow, and the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) at the Half Moon Hotel in Rose Hall, St James, recently.
The investment involves a one-off cost of $13.5 million (US$120,000), with $8.4 million (US$75,000) in recurring annual expenditure.
According to CBS's Sean Latty, his company will install workstation solutions such as screens and a combination of physical and soft phones. It will also provide a suite of services, including virtual desktops and managed Wi-Fi, security and networking, host PBX for incubator users and the BPIAJ Secretariat; and provide fibre-direct connectivity.
Additionally, the telecommunications firm will be providing digital signage, data backup at its centre in Curaçao, and reduced bundled rates to users of the facility.
"This is great for new entrants in our industry, especially when they are challenged to come up with requisite funding " said Davon Crump, CEO of Montego Bay's Global Outsourcing Solutions Limited. "The fact that they won't have to fork out all that capital to build out is a plus ... . Unfortunately, we did not get such an opportunity, but this is great for the growth of the sector."
Jamaica currently holds six per cent of the Caribbean and Latin America market share, with approximately 15,000 jobs and currently earns about US$375 million in foreign-exchange revenues. However, stakeholders are of the view that the sector has the potential to grow by more than 20 per cent.
"Having an incubator and partnering with CBS gives the abilities for entrepreneurs to join the industry in more cost-effective ways ... get the technology that they may not have the capital to get in order to grow their business," said Yoni Epstein, president of the BPIAJ.