The Pacific, BPO’s hidden treasure

By Caleb Jarvis, Trade Commissioner, PT&I Australia

Commercial opportunities with our Pacific Island neighbours are often overlooked. That’s why I’m excited to see a shift in the business process outsourcing (BPO) space, with leading international business in the aviation and telecommunications industry using the Pacific, in particular, Fiji as their offshore BPO location. So, what is BPO and why are more companies looking to the Pacific?

 What is BPO?

BPO refers to how organisations entrust their business functions to an external provider. Nearly any non-primary business activity that can be completed offsite can be outsourced to an offshore location. These processes include back and front office support; telemarketing and telesales; complaint handling; market research and data entry; insurance claim and transaction processing; financial services, overflow and after hours support….the list is endless.

 What makes Fiji a great offshore option?

With the support of the Fijian Government, Fiji is positioning itself as an attractive offshore option offering cost and quality conscious businesses:

  1. Competitive costs, compared to Australia costs can be 50% lower.
  2. Investment incentives with strong political support from the Fiji Government for foreign investment.
  3. Geographical ease, only a four-hour direct flight from Australia with a convenient time zone (two hours ahead of AEST) making communications easy.
  4. Excellent telecommunications infrastructure, the Southern Cross cable provides an efficient and reliable telecommunications system with links to Australia, New Zealand and North America.
  5.  Skilled labour base and customer service. Fiji is renowned for their friendly customer service, they have a highly educated, young and motivated workforce, with low workforce attrition. English is one of Fiji’s national languages and their neutral accent positioning them well for call centres and customer service focused tasks.

The advantages of using Fiji are being recognised internationally. Fiji was awarded the 2014 European Outsourcing Association, Offshoring Destination of the Year award and in 2013 Fiji was a finalist in the Offshoring Destination of the Year awards (UK national Outsourcing Association).

 The impact of BPO in the Pacific

The potential economic and social impact of BPO for Pacific Island countries is huge with a study conducted by the World Bank in November 2015 finding strong potential for jobs in online industries for Pacific Island countries.

Outsourcing services represent an estimated US$952 billion per year globally, with ICT for Jobs in the Pacific highlighting Australia and New Zealand as two potential ‘nearshoring’ markets for the Pacific; worth an estimated US$31 billion per year.

“This study shows the potential for Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to tap into that market and create new and unique job opportunities that can especially benefit women and youth,” said Natasha Beschorner, Senior ICT Policy Specialist, the World Bank.

Not only can the Pacific Islands offer real commercial benefits for businesses as a BPO destination, it will also generate sustainable jobs in the Pacific Islands increasing opportunities and the standard of living for those living in the Pacific Islands.

BPO Mission to Fiji

In July 2016, PT&I Australia led a delegation of five companies to Fiji, the mission provided delegates with the opportunity to learn about Fiji’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, explore potential areas of cooperation and alliances, and understand how to do business in Fiji.

“I found the mission to be extremely well organised and of great value in terms of learning more about the opportunities to invest in Fiji. The mission brought together ALL of the key stakeholders and provided access to relevant information and industry contacts allowing us to achieve in a few days what would normally take months”

Scott Wooden, Director, Trek Australia

If you’re interested to understand what Fiji has to offer, PT&I Australia will be leading a BPO mission to Fiji in April 2017. More info here.

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