Compete Caribbean Program Gets US$500,000 Boost

The signing of the grant agreement which took place on Wednesday, July 2, in Kingston, Jamaica.

Jamaica’s Information and Communication Technology and Business Process Outsourcing (ICT/BPO) sector has been boosted by the provision of a $56 million (US$500,000) grant, under the Compete Caribbean Programme.

The grant has been allocated through the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), which applied for technical assistance support to establish a call centre incubator in the Montego Bay Free Zone that will lend support to the start-up operations of newly established ICT/BPO entities, and expand the activities of existing organizations.

The BPIAJ, which was launched in Kingston and Montego Bay in 2012, currently comprises 25 organizations.

An agreement, formalizing the provision, was signed by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Senior Operations Specialist in Jamaica, Harold Arzu, and BPIAJ President, Yoni Epstein, during a ceremony at the IDB’s New Kingston office, on Wednesday, July 2. The Compete Caribbean Programme is being administered by the IDB.

Among those also participating in the proceedings were Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, and State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, who welcomed the undertaking.

In his remarks, Mr. Hylton said the provision is “timely” as it represents a commitment to further developing Jamaica’s ICT/BPO sector.

“Not only is the incubator needed, I think it will also spur further development… (and) attract (additional) investments…because it is a sector that is fast-growing. Jamaica is building its reputation…as a growing attraction for the (creation of) BPO space,” the Minister stated.

Mr. Hylton also commended the BPIAJ for demonstrating the “leadership” to pursue the initiative, which he said will “help to drive the growth and development of our economy.”

In his remarks, State Minister Robinson underscored the need to maintain a high standard of service delivery in the ICT/BPO sector.

“We have to…focus on maintaining standards in training (and) certification; and we also have to watch the trends in terms of how technology evolves so that we remain at the cutting edge, as a country,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Mr. Arzu said the business process outsourcing component of the Compete Caribbean Programme, which focuses on increasing the sector’s viability and competitiveness, complements the IDB’s goal of collaborating with the Jamaican Government on activities aimed at supporting reforms in the business environment.

“I am confident that this partnership and support, along with BPIAJ’s determination to succeed and grow, will bear fruits,” he said.

Mr. Epstein expressed confidence that the incubator initiative “will bring about great success for our industry and country.”

“The ICT industry is a growth opportunity for Jamaica. (It) will kick-start the new wave of BPOs in Jamaica that will be high performing providers, focusing on change and process excellence, securing more contracts, and increasing their market share, employing new technologies and value-added strategies to drive innovation and improvements in operations,” he indicated.

The BPIAJ initiative was also endorsed by Counsellor and Head, Development Cooperation, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) office in Jamaica, Marie Legault; and Acting Team Leader, Governance, United Kingdom department for International Development (DFID) in Jamaica, Bhavna Sharma.

Compete Caribbean is a private sector development programme that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support Micro, Small and Medium-size Enterprise (MSME) activities, among other engagements in 15 countries across the region. It is jointly funded by the IDB, DFID, and DFATD.

Published Date: 
Friday, July 4, 2014