Belize Tops List as Number One Value Destination for Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO)
Belize has been named the number one top value destination when it comes to the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) sector. The country has seen exponential growth over the last five years, and has been identified as being strong in its English Proficiency, real estate, investment environment and easy access to flights to and from the United States. The rating comes from the organization, Nearshore Americas; an agency that tracks, monitors and reports on growing services in information technology. The announcement comes at a time when Belize’s policymakers are looking to upgrade the BPO sector. Lincoln Blake is the Director of Policy and Investment within the Ministry of Trade; he told Love News that Belize has also been recognized for its resilience and continuous services through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lincoln Blake, Director of Policy and Investment: “Belize has been recognized especially during the COVID during the pandemic. Actually, we authorized, the government authorized to work from home, not meaning that, because many of these BPO’s have designated processing area status. What that means is that they’re given certain duty-free equipment for them to work with. So what we did, what the government did as policy is to authorize them to give out these duty-free equipments for these people to work from home. And by us doing that, Belize never did close down. The industry never did close down during the pandemic. They continued operating and what that has done is that it has shown that Belize is a jurisdiction that is dependable and it actually increased our image that the country has in the industry and now you have seen the results, which it’s a significant amount of interest to open BPO’s in Belize. And not only back office type of work. I mean, you’re seeing now, like for example, there’s a new company that just got this DPA status in San Ignacio which is contracting young persons, young and middle-aged persons who are very skilled mathematicians and coders and software developers that are in the country and they would develop these programs that have projects for several Fortune 500 companies. So we have these type of companies already starting to establish in Belize and some of these are local companies, local entrepreneurs that are starting up these companies and that is very interesting to us.”
Just last month, our newsroom reported on an employability study that showed that of every ten applications sent into call centers in Belize, only one really qualifies to be hired. Director Blake, however, explained that they did their own survey that showed the figure to be two of every ten. It is still a dismal outcome, but Blake says they are putting in efforts to increase that figure to four out of ten.
Lincoln Blake, Director of Policy and Investment: “From our rule of thumb that we got from the survey is that out of every 10, you mentioned one out of every 10, but what we got from the industry is about two out of 10 is what they usually get out of their interviews. But the government has a strategy that they are working on to increase that to four. It will be a challenge because we have to look at several variables. One is the education and we’re working with the Minister of Education, we’re working with DTECH from Beltraide, we’re working with several other organizations, the Labor Department has a training unit so we’re trying to mobilize our resources and to look at the specific skills that is required because they have specific skills although we might have some training at Beltraide and some other organizations for example you mentioned down south with Dr. Zabaneh he has a program which we’re working closely with him both Beltraide and the Ministry of Investment but there’s a lot more. While that is good there’s a lot more that needs to be done, especially if you want to move up that value chain. Belize will not survive in the industry if we just remain at the base of the value chain. The base of the value chain may be at some point be replaced by AI and we recognize that and we have been working arduously to go up that value chain and the only way to do that is to ensure that we have the laws that would support it, intellectual property legislation and cybersecurity and continuing working on the different skill set that these persons should have.”
Nearshore Americas noted in its report that, “Belize is a relatively new player in the BPO space, but it is slowly building a reputation as one of the Nearshore’s best options for high quality service at a lower cost. The country remains more affordable than popular destinations like Colombia and Costa Rica, while offering a workforce of native English speakers, a healthy investment environment and geographical proximity to the US market. All of that in spite of (and, in part, due to) being overlooked in favor of better known destinations. Though it still has challenges to solve –like any other Nearshore location–, Belize is the best example of value in the region.” End of quote.