Commentary: Haiti – for many Americans – has sadly fallen off the ‘radar’ once again. The country remains in miserable shape, and it doesn’t take a Ph.D to recognize that there is no medicine to cure the deep suffering experienced by huge swaths of Haitian society or enough funding and leadership to fix all the systemic flaws in governance and rule of law. Yet, for those of us who have built our lives and careers around the thriving Nearshore outsourcing industry, we do possess important value to the people of this uniquely needy country.
Our insights, knowledge and connections could bring transformative impacts to Haiti. Outsourcing is a business activity that can thrive in even the most inhospitable conditions. Take Honduras – one of the most violent countries in the Americas – and outsourcing is absolutely on fire in the city of San Pedro Sula. Argentina remains a mercurial nation with fundamental problems with transparency, yet tens of thousands of Argentines make their living in global services. Guatemala, Nicaragua and even Colombia have had their ‘troubled’ periods, but each country has scored big wins in the BPO/ITO industry in the last few years – bringing immediate rewards to many citizens.
The Dominican Republic is aware of the deep importance of Haiti. “We need Haiti to develop. We need Haiti to grow,” said Jean A. Rodríguez, the new head of the country’s investment agency, CEI-RD, who spoke eloquently about the desire his country has to strengthen partnerships with Haiti – especially in professional services. (More coverage of our discussions with Rodriquez, coming soon to NSAM.) Mr. Rodriquez had several key things to say about Haiti in this interview:
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has been very active in Haiti, as well, using its various channels and connections to try and induce private investment into the country. The Invest in Haiti Forum, held in 2011, triggered an increased focus on the potential of tech-related investment and careers. Peter Ryan of Ovum pointed out, in a follow up report, that the French-focused voice services are an important first step target.
Also, global advisory firm Avasant has been retained by IDB to help develop the call center industry in the country. Avasant initially did a feasibility study which was accepted by the Haitian government as a roadmap for generating technology enabled jobs in the country, according to Avasant partner Anupam Govil.
Currently Avasant is working closely with IDB and CFI Haiti (Center for Facilitation of Investment) to improve the investment attractiveness and quality of the workforce. According to Avasant analysis, Haiti could generate up to 3000 jobs servicing the French and English markets in the US and Canada over the next three years.
Outsourcing is by no means to be perceived as a fail-safe antidote for Haiti, where over 50% of the 10 million citizen population live in extreme poverty. But clearly it’s a start – and getting off on the right foot will take guidance, support and meaningful mentoring.
For those who have a deep stake in Nearshore/ Latin America outsourcing, what is it going to take to keep Haiti on your radar?
– Kirk Laughlin