By Patrick Haller
After scouring Latin America for a new hub, the global BPO company Genpact has decided that Bogota is where its future lies. Citing an impressive improvement in security, political stability and a high-quality talent pool, Genpact announced yesterday at a special press conference in Bogota, that it is in the process of building-out 750 square meters in one of the city’s Zona Franca facilities. With a long-term vision that anticipates the hiring of up to 1,500 employees (95% of whom will be Colombian) and an investment of up to $10 million over the next three to five years, Genpact is angling to plant its footprint solidly on the Latin American landscape.
Although it already has a presence in Mexico and Guatemala, the company has determined that Colombia is a country where it is easy to implement this type of investment, especially where Human Resources are concerned.
Genpact has earned a reputation as pioneers in the BPO sector in countries such as China, India, Poland, Hungary and Mexico, and in Colombia it has found all the ingredients that are conducive to growing a strong business. This discovery is due, in part, to the work and dedication of Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade (MCIT), ProExport Colombia and Invest in Bogota. “It is always hard [being pioneers] but it has been easier here. We have gotten greater support from them than anywhere else in the world. They are first class,” said Pramod Bhasin, Genpact Vice Chairman, referring to the Colombian agencies. He continued, “Colombia offers a favorable business climate for Genpact and for our clients; a rich talent pool with a high literacy rate and complementary skill sets. Genpact is honored to establish its roots here in Colombia and become part of its culture and its thriving business community.”
ProExport has been working with Genpact since 2008 when a representative in its India office approached the BPO provider with the idea of exploring Colombia
The company is currently recruiting up to 100 employees to launch its 200 seat center by January or February 2012. First it will offer Finance and Accounting (F&A) service as well as procurement and supply chain BPO to North American clients, then add business development staff to secure Latin American clients. The Bogota location will also act as Genpact’s hub for its Smart Decision Services business, which encompasses analytics, reengineering and risk management services. Genpact’s investment is part of the Productive Transformation Program that the Colombian federal government has been developing to promote the outsourcing services sector as one the 12 economic sectors that are considered “pillars of industrial policy.” According to the MCIT, Colombia aims to create 72,700 new business process management services jobs by 2014, which will bring the total to 142,280. It also seeks to increase exports from $200 million to $1.1 billion during the same period.
ProExport has been working with Genpact since 2008 when a representative in its India office approached the BPO provider with the idea of exploring Colombia. “We are convinced that this decision not only confirms the confidence that foreign investors have in the country,” said President of ProExport, Maria Claudia Lacouture, “but the great potential of the business process management sector.” Genpact’s investment, Lacouture explained, is not so much one of capital, but one into Human Resources, allowing Colombia to show a different capability than what the world may be accustomed to.
Gartner has determined that Colombia is one of the main countries in which to locate BPO services. “The welcoming of Genpact to Colombia will be an important milestone of third-party outsourcing for Colombia,” stated Lacouture. Bogota is a center for BPO providers that accounts for 55,000 employees. Some of the elements that have fostered this growth are the 94,000 annual university graduates, 50% of whom are engineers. “The industry has been developed,” said Adriana Suarez, Executive Director of Invest in Bogota, “there are more than 16 companies in Colombia: IBM, DirectTV, Indra, Everest. IBM has a sales center in Bogota, Convergys has 1,000 employees here. Genpact gives a very high aggregated value.” Teleperformance has also established a strong presence in Bogota.
The Genpact deal was the first joint effort between ProExport and Invest in Bogota, agencies that have traditionally pursued separate opportunities. The success of this venture could signal a turning point in their approach to doing business, one that has been a long time coming. “This cluster is very important for Colombia,” declared Juan Carlos Garavito, General Manager, MCIT, “from now to 2014 we expect to create 70,000 more employment opportunities.” Bhasin stressed that Genpact is committed to providing such opportunities, and said that when Genpact enters a market a large percentage of the industry will also establish operations there. “I hope we can be a catalyst for investment into Bogota. This supports our strategy for Latin America,” he explained, “Our aim is to build a local technical, reengineering, BPO business to serve Latin American clients.”
Bhasin went on to say that the developed world is going through turmoil today, and industry is turning to emerging markets as safe havens. Taking a local approach wherein local employees respond to local (regional) clients, enables Genpact to train the employees –a process which can take up to three months– and introduce other opportunities to that market. “We hope to provide high-end services such as analytics and advanced modeling to Latin America from Colombia,” Bhasin said. Over the next two years Genpact will explore other Colombian cities such as Medellin and Barranquilla to determine where it would be most advantageous to open additional offices.
Genpact’s entry into Colombia is fortuitous, as Rodrigo Chávez, Sector Manager Latin America & Caribbean Region at the World Bank announced today that Colombia is the best prepared country in Latin America in which to withstand another global economic recession.