KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) says it is working towards making the island the best place to do business in the Caribbean and that the digitisation of the economy will provide a big boost to the technology sector.
“We’re already number six in the world in starting a business because you can do it pretty much online, but we’re actually setting up a National Business Portal which will allow you to do a number of different applications, so for instance, applying to this Special Economic Zone will all be online in about a year,” said JAMPRO President, Diane Edwards.
She told a virtual Global Digital Services webinar, ‘Jamaica: a resilient location for outsourcing,” that improving the island’s attractive for doing business would also require several pieces of legislation now being worked on, which will catapult the country into the top-10 of the Doing Business Report.
She told the webinar that JAMPRO has about 80 companies in its software cohorts that are very keen and have already done international contracts and are looking for more opportunities to partner with global companies.
In the meantime, she said the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ), has played a key role in the industry’s ability to adapt to the new regulations in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Edwards said that the GSAJ has collaborated with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to establish protocols to make the business process outsourcing (BPO) operations seamless and allow continuity.
“So, we really looked at the hygiene protocols and health protocols. The first thing was really to decide that the BPO industry is an essential industry and I think that was critical,.
“We didn’t have a full lockdown in Jamaica, but we had a partial lockdown of most industries, so allowing the outsourcing industry to be an essential industry allowed people to continue to work and move around. And then we looked at how do we make workplaces more accessible and in a healthy way,” she added.
Edwards said that several measures were instituted, including allowing a number of the BPO workers to work from home, and many physical protocols that had to be implemented in the workplace to ensure that it is a safe environment for all.
Meanwhile, two of the leading BPO entities in the island have said the unity that has been displayed by stakeholders within the BPO sector and the collaboration with the government during the pandemic has been one of the advantages for Jamaica and makes the country “special”.
The chief executive officer of itelBPO Solutions, Yoni Epstein, said they are similar in size to some of the competitors in Central America, “but when you look at the global scale, we’re still very small, but the unity was developed and we truly came together”.
He said also that the small size of the country and the access to the government, which is pro-business, is also another factor that makes Jamaica a strong location for BPO, as it was easy for the industry to work with the Government to put protocols in place to save lives and livelihoods.
The Senior Vice President and Country Head at Hinduja Global Solutions, Anand Biradar, said what he has seen in Jamaica is strong collaboration.
“You bring Government, you bring JAMPRO, and you bring all the BPO players… . It’s one strong family and that does not happen easily in other countries,” he said.
“How quickly the Government and the response team, all the BPOs, how they come together, that strong collaborative attitude; the embodiment of that is a significant strength and advantage for Jamaica,” he added.