The Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) held the Outsource To The Caribbean 2017 conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica in December. The event brought together Caribbean basin Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) from around the region, from Belize all the way to Guyana, with BPO operators such as Ibex Global, Unido Digital, and event sponsor Itel BPO, the analyst community, consultants such as Avasant, and other government officials for a day and a half dedicated to a spirit of cooperation between the various Caribbean basin economies working together to attract foreign direct investment, rather than each competing against one another in an isolated, individual way.
Pictured Above: Aliyah Jaggassar is the vice president of BPO & Shared Services for the Trinidad & Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC)
“I think that it was crucial for this event to take place, as over the past while the region has been relatively dormant in terms of publicity. With other centers such as Gauteng in South Africa and Egypt undertaking their own promotional efforts, the Caribbean cannot afford to get left in the back. It was very important to be involved for the sake of helping get the message out and in order to be educated around the region’s points of strength,” said leading industry analyst Peter Ryan of Ryan Strategic Advisory.
In the past, Caribbean sourcing destinations have seen one another more as friendly competition than as potential collaborators, but as each nation has different competitive advantages, there are synergies that can be obtained by working together in the future, they believe.
“The biggest “win” for me was the recognition and tacit agreement amongst the various attending Caribbean countries that we will each win more business by joining together as a regional offering, rather than competing against each other for the same clients,” said Aliyah Jaggassar (pictured above), the vice president of business process outsourcing and shared services development for the Trinidad & Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC).
“There is a need to show investors that the Caribbean region collectively possesses all the advantages of a thriving BPO location, which offers significant opportunities to grow and expand businesses,” she added.
Countries like Jamaica have a strong call center talent pool, and North American customers tend to react positively to the Jamaican accent. On the other hand, regional neighbors such as the Dominican Republic offer the necessary bilingual ability, and highly educated professionals from Trinidad & Tobago offer finance & accounting talent in addition to a long track record of energy industry expertise.
According to Ryan: “It is very important for the countries in the region to collaborate where possible. But, equally they need to distinguish themselves on particular points of strength. Each component of the Caribbean has its own specialties, which need to be emphasized where possible.”
The increasing demand for impact sourcing—outsourcing with a social mandate—is causing outsourcing firms to look more closely at emerging locations such as Haiti, Guyana, and Belize, and the need for geographic diversity makes many other smaller islands potential backup locations. Countries like Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago lie completely outside of the hurricane belt, a fact many North American outsourcers don’t realize.
“The event was indeed a success – bringing together the private sector’s leaders from within the region, the investment agencies, heads of government and global thought leaders is a rarity in any region. The event’s organizers need to be proud of their efforts,” added Ryan. “Driving the momentum forward will be imperative; the best way to do this is ongoing engagement with the voices that influence BPO investment decisions. These include the industry analysts, journalists and enterprise decision-makers. If these groups can be courted effectively, there is little doubt that the region’s goodwill will be sustained.”