Jamaica Ticks Almost All the Boxes for BPO
But They Could Go For 100%
Nearsol has a long history of almost two decades focusing on service delivery from the Caribbean region. One of my favorite places to both visit and do business in this part of the world is Jamaica.
Has a rich talent pool and deep experience in all aspects of business process outsourcing (BPO) and hi-tech IT services. This means that Jamaica has been attracting more companies and more investment – especially since the pandemic restrictions started winding down a year ago.
The Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ) Outsource2Jamaica Glance 2022 forum at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last year featured business leaders, investors, and Jamaican politicians all eager to demonstrate that the nation is open for business.
BPO is welcome and is seen not just as a job creation strategy, but as a driver of strategic growth. A strong career pathway is developing from contact centers into other services, such as sales, marketing, and even the technology required to create the foundation of a modern customer service process. BPO is a catalyst.
But there is one fly in the ointment – the complexity of the bureaucracy that still exists around tax, tax exemption, and special grants to businesses investing in Jamaica.
In an article published by Nearshore Americas just three months ago, the payment service company American First Finance talked about their mix of delight and frustration in their new Jamaican operation.
COO Thomas Nusspickel explained to Nearshore Americas that Guatemala and Colombia were also considered for their new center, located in a free zone incubator area. The company planned to have 200 employees on site by the end of 2022.
While the company is pleased with the level of talent and with improved digital and physical infrastructure, the level of red tape has been less welcome, Nusspickel said. “It takes so much time to make any move or change.” He added: “We wanted Special Economic Zone certification for tax purposes, and that is something that they could make a lot easier for companies like us. It takes up to six months.”
This should be a slam dunk for Jamaica. Look at what this COO is saying. They love the location. It stacked up favorably against several other regional options. They love the people, and, overall, they are happy with their choice to invest in Jamaica.
However, by fast tracking some of the certifications for companies investing in the Special Economic Zones these investors would be even happier. The purpose of these zones is to create a more favorable tax environment so foreign investors are more attracted to Jamaica. What the government loses in offering tax breaks for businesses it more than makes up through the creation of skilled jobs – and therefore many more Jamaican taxpayers.
In this case, the company was happy with most of the deal – they could wait 6 months for the paperwork to be sorted, but this will not always be true. If a regional alternative offers a similar package that applies from day one, then that may be enough for Jamaica to lose a future investor.
I believe the investment agencies in Jamaica that promote the region for BPO, and technology-focused jobs need to listen to the feedback from companies such as American First Finance – our own team also has similar examples we can share. It is a shame to see Jamaica praised for their fantastic talent and infrastructure, but failing only on bureaucracy – surely that can be fixed in 2023?
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