DR Special Report: The Leader of the Caribbean Pack Thrives Despite Safety Worries

By Karina E. Cuevas

The Dominican Republic continues to hold the title of the Caribbean’s call center champion, edging out rival Jamaica and earning continuing praise from major in-country providers. With over 65 call centers, it is the second industry in growth after tourism, generating 40 percent of revenue for the overall DR economy. The call center industry has created around 22,000 direct jobs and there are hopes that as many as 100,000 new jobs will be added in the next five years.

Rodolfo Salazar, America’s Marketing Director for Stream, says the DR is a key part of Stream's Nearshore services strategy

Rodolfo Salazar, America’s Marketing Director for Stream, says the DR is a key part of Stream's Nearshore services strategy

In 2008, $7.2 million was driven from services exports and the country attracted $2.8 million in investments.

An Affinity Play
“Our affinity with the United States of America as well as location and telecommunication infrastructure are benefits aside from the low costs for the industry,” says Veronica Ogando, Investment Promotions Specialist for CEI-RD.
CEI-RD helps facilitate tax exempt status for providers, whether or not they are in an industrial park. The National Free Zone Council backs that proposal providing call center businesses access to the benefits of free trade zones, although this does not apply to the textile or manufacturing industries within the zones.

One of the main features that the DR call center industry counts on is the variety of languages available within the country. Its inhabitants have knowledge of Portuguese, French, English and Italian aside from Spanish. Companies like Stream, which happens to be the top provider in the country, credits cultural affinity as a key feature of the DR’s services industry.

“In the Dominican Republic, we credit not only the exceptional quality of the country’s English-speaking talent base, but also its cultural affinity for the U.S., and highly skilled, educated workforce,” says Rodolfo Salazar, America’s Marketing Director for Stream Global Services.

A Streaming Success
Although countries like the Philippines, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Venezuela and Colombia are the current competition for the DR, geographical positioning continue to be a primary asset. Stream credits it success with its 80 global clients to the proximity of DR to North America, thus enabling clients to travel to DR sites in a minimum amount of time, addressing any business ventures in one day, if needed.

Another company that is benefiting from the advantages of the free trade zones in the DR is Provitel, a growing and relatively new call center company located in DR’s capital Santo Domingo. With a client base of various Fortune 1000 companies, Provitel sites the neutrality of the government and its low investment costs as key factors for doing business in the DR.

“Because of the saturation of the markets in Argentina, Costa Rica and Mexico it has afforded us an increase in cost and efficiency within DR,” says Ramon Rojas, COO for Provitel. But because there are not enough call centers in the country for the market, there is truly no client competition, but yes a competition of resources and we have ideal human resources.”

“Washington Mutual cited safety as their number one concern in their decision not to relocate to the DR…We have found that when US companies see cities like Bogota, Panama City, Managua or even San Jose, they have a greater comfort level” – Doug Meyer, DRCCA

Necessary Feedback
Despite all the positive feedback some of the main outsourcing companies are receiving, it doesn’t seem to satisfy the Dominican Republic Call Center Association (DRCCA) expectations of what the government needs to apply to make it a better business venture. Continue reading