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BPO boom! - New president targets top-10 position in five years

Published:Sunday | June 5, 2016 | 6:00 AMMark Titus
Dr Guna Mupurri

Dr Guna Muppuri, the new president of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica, is convinced that, within five years, Jamaica can become one of the top 10 business process outsourcing (BPO) destinations in the world.

But Muppuri is warning that this will only be achieved if the proper support mechanism is put in place for Jamaica's investment and export promotion agency (JAMPRO) to effectively contribute to the process.

Muppuri, who recently replaced businessman Yoni Epstein as the head of the association that represents players in the BPO sector, is determined to make a significant impact in his 12-month stint in the role.

"I am here to play 20/20 match, I am not here to play a Test match," Muppuri told The Sunday Gleaner.

"I want to hit a six with every ball and make my team win, to continue our journey to get to the top ... that's my game plan."

 

Improve rankings

 

To get to the top, Jamaica must improve its ranking from the current 43 out of the 55 recognised destinations worldwide, a feat that Muppuri believes can be accomplished with a proper structure and decisive planning.

"We want to learn from those successful countries like India, Singapore and the Philippines," said Muppuri, who is the chief executive officer of Bioprist Knowledge Parks.

"We are at 43 in the ranking, but I am not worried about that, the fact is we have to start somewhere in the race.

"Put it this way. If I am in the Olympics 100 metres final, my main focus will be on the champion, on a Usain Bolt. So, while there are other countries offering outsourcing services, we intend to establish standards that can compete with the big three."

The lucrative BPO sector, which is valued at approximately US$104.6 billion globally, has been identified as an important vehicle to grow the local economy.

The labour force in the local sector currently stands at 15,000, half of the 30,000 jobs the Government has projected to have in place by 2020.

"We have so much in our favour, we are near shore, and our people are adaptable, excellent English- and Spanish-speaking talent pool," argued Muppuri.

"That's our richest resource, plus the proximity to the USA ... no other country has this. Our investors are putting their money where their mouth is.

"Sutherland Global Services has committed to 10,000 jobs, they are close to 4,000 and expanding. Look at what Xerox have done for us, 7,000 jobs and there are other firms who are competing to see who can create the most jobs ... it is good for Jamaica."

Muppuri added: "We now need more risk-takers. More local investment, a new generation of entrepreneurs to take the risk, but not everyone would do what a Bioprist Knowledge Park or Barnett Tech Park would do ... so I want to advocate for an extension of the moratorium being offered by DBJ (Development Bank of Jamaica) from the current 12 months being offered to 24 months, because not many are willing to take the risk without sound guarantees."

Muppuri would know what it means to take risk, having recently broken ground for the construction of a US$12-million complex in Freeport, Montego Bay.

"If India, Singapore and the Philippines are doing it, why can't we? If you don't give something they won't come to you; if they don't come to you, you won't progress ... you must look on the top three countries and see how you can work as closely to them as possible.

"We have to have a give-and-take approach. Give them something that they want ... not everything free, but we need to negotiate with them, we need to meet on some common ground. They are willing to give us thousands of jobs, and while we cannot give you everything free ... we can make it attractive, comparing to other destinations."

mark.titus@gleanerjm.com