Stepping from the shadows
Nackeshia Tomlinson, Gleaner Writer
JUNCTION, St Elizabeth:ON A RECENT tour by Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell, Lincoln Gayle's business place was one of the stops on the itinerary.
Situated in a plaza in Junction, Innovative Outsourcing Company Limited is not immediately visible. Rural Express asked him why he has been hiding his business all this time. In his quiet manner, he responded that nothing happens before its time.
Gayle disclosed that his call-centre operations provide outsourcing services for United States (US) based companies. It provides jobs for over 20 young people in Junction and its environs. The services he provides include dispatching, sales, customer retention, data entry and accounting. Customer service relations for the popular US-based Afflack is also included in his offerings. Most impressive of all, the business is powered by solar and wind energy.
Gayle said the business, which he owns with a partner, started four years ago with one employee. It was while he was working for a company which required outsourcing services that the opportunity presented itself. Gayle explained that the company wanted a dispatch department as it was becoming overwhelming to get it done locally. An astute Gayle told the owner that it could be done in Jamaica. He came, started with one person and it developed into what it is today.
Gayle recounted that he and his partner did not experence a great degree of difficulty to set up the business, but it was time consuming. As they did not have a template to follow, a lot of the development was through trial and error and a lot of sleepless nights. In addition, he travelled a lot as he still maintained his primary job in the US.
"There were many nights I was here 2 to 3 in the morning doing everything to make sure the computers are working," related Gayle. He expressed gratitude to Jamaica Trade and Invest which he said gave him valuable advice.
Although he currently resides in the US, he is a Jamaican native who grew up in Southfield, St Elizabeth. He pursued tertiary-level studies majoring in information technology at Northern Caribbean University. It is this grounding in local life that has partly influenced his decision to set up his operation in Junction. This is because he felt he knew the right people with whom to work.
He credits his parents for instilling in him a hard-working attitude. This has transferred into his business, which he decribes as "a lot of work and if you are not that type of individual, then you won't feel enthused to go out there and put that work in."
Despite that, he declared that "it feels good to be able to provide employment to other young people who would otherwise be staying home and getting into trouble".
One major challenge that he encounters is the stigma of the lotto scam that have been linked to some call centres. Although he hasn't been directly affected, he emphasised that it is "a black cloud" over his head. He said when his clients in the US hear of the incidents, they will get discouraged. To counter that, he has put special measures in place such as monitoring calls and computers and implement rules and regulations to limit the possibility of information leaving the building.
The future seems promising for Gayle, as he is also looking to employ more people and expand his client base, and maybe take on the challenge of returning full time to run the business. He also has plans to complete the removal of his business from the Jamaica Public Service power grid and to run his operations solely from renewable energy.