Honduras BPO Stays the Course Despite Political Instability

The more I talk to those connected to the Honduras outsourcing sector, the more I flagggggrealize that – frankly – the country might just be a lot better off if former President Manuel Zelaya never comes back to the capital of Tegucigalpa. Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says an attempt by Zelaya to return to Honduras would be “reckless” and would damage attempts for constitutional order.

No hard feeling Mel, but if you and the rest of the political leadership want to truly serve your country then walk away from the righteous arguments and let stability – and commercial growth and opportunity – prevail.

Of course, the political situation in Honduras is not that simple. But what is encouraging is that despite the past several weeks of negotiations and high-level wrangling, the country’s emerging BPO industry is holding itself together nicely.

First, it is critically important to note that the cooler heads in such situations are often business people and investors who see well beyond the political rhetoric, knowing that this too shall pass. Companies preparing to establish or expand operations in Honduras include the giant food and agricultural corporation Cargill, the globally renowned marketing and ad agency McCann Ericsson, and Netsol, a global provider of  business services with branches around the world.  This encouraging news was relayed to me by Ruben Sorto, Corporate Marketing and New Projects Director at Grupo Karims, which is establishing several world-class office centers, including the Altia Business Park project near San Pedro Sula. (Check out the virtual tour here.) “The project is right on track and within the scheduled program,” says Sorto. “We will finish the first tower by December and we expect to have everything up and running in the first quarter of 2010.”Sorto says that his firm has rented about 70% of the first tower (14 floors, each floor with 11,000 sq. feet) to corporate tenants.  

Ruben Sorto, left, of Grupo Karims joins Carolina Pascua (far right)  from FIDE (the Honduran Investment Agency) and an unidentified executive during a recent meeting in Honduras.

Ruben Sorto, left, of Grupo Karims joins Carolina Pascua (far right) from FIDE (the Honduran Investment Agency) and an unidentified executive during a recent meeting in Honduras.

Honduran-based business leaders are continuing to come out publicly in support of Zelaya’s ouster: “We’re here to support the brave actions of the new government, said Santiago Ruiz, president of the Agriculture Association of Honduras.

While some might argue that Zelaya’s strength was in promoting Honduras as a public relations pitch man, the reality is – upon reflection – that he appeared to quite keen to establish his own home made brand of continuismo, where he would defy the constitution and hold on to power as long as possible.

As we’ve said in this blog before, Honduras has a great upside in terms of outsourced services. We just hope that same sense of patience and focus that helps create sound businesses begins to form the foundational approach of the national government level.


Advertisements

Honduras Looks to Call Centers and Strong Bilingual Abilities to Grow Outsourcing

So far, 2009 looks like a good year for the emerging Honduras BPO community.

The first tenants at Altia business park are planning to move into the state-of-the-art facility in September.

The first tenants at Altia business park are planning to move into the state-of-the-art facility in September.

Worldwide outsourcing provider ACS recently announced plans to locate a call center near San Pedro Sula and operators of several industrial parks are helping make the case to invest in Honduras – a  country that is becoming well-known for strong English language skills. There are well over 400 English language schools operating in Honduras.  In fact, in a story that came out today in the Honduras publication “La Prensa” (click on this link for the Googlized English translation,) the author claims that Honduras has more bilingual speakers per capita than any other Central American nation.  (Although Belize is probably the Central American country to have the most bilingual speakers – I invite others to make their points in the topic.  Friends in Costa Rica or Guatemala, any comments?) To view the LaPresna story in the original Spanish version, click here.

The story notes that Altia Business Park is one of the leaders in trying to attract outsourcing operations, based on tax incentives and economically priced telecom services.

Another important player is Gruppo Karims, a worldwide organization which invests in industrial real estate, textiles and tourism. The company has operations in Pakistan, Mexico and Hoduras, and offices in Guatemala, China, Dominican Republic and the USA. Karims operates a large industrial facility called Green Valley Industrial Park, considered one of the largest and most technically advanced facilities in the entire Nearshore region.

Finally, there continue to be plans for Honduras to host a Central America chapter meeting of the IAOP sometime before the end of the year. We will provide updates at Caribbean CRM Central when more news is announced by Chair Chris Disher.

IAOP: Quick Country Snapshots from the Show Floor

Cuba: A report is floating around that over 60,000 well-trained IT professionals are standing by ready to take on BPO work in a country that is quickly shedding its pariah status. Anybody up for planning a BPO conference in Havana?

Honduras: Some savvy folks from this emerging nation are making a strong case for cooking up some deals based on available capacity and its strong English-language training. Country leaders  must continue to define their asset base and bring out the more differentiated characteristics of this promising nation. Searching for answers on this market? Gabriela Calix of Green Valley Industrial Park is a great resource.

Colombia: Wow, what an interesting upside. Over 45 million people and a very compelling combination of favorable factors including a far safer society than in years past,  new telecom infrastructure and tax incentives. Vladimir Ramirez and Pedro Quintanilla both of IGDC. Inc. are helping bring more recognition to the country and plans are underway for a 2010 IAOP chapter meeting in Colombia.

Nicaragua: What can you say about a country which has done a good job so far executing its BPO strategy? Sitel apparently still loves the country, having recently doubled its workforce to support (reportedly) Virgin Mobile.