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BPO Industry Booming in ‘Troubled’ Mindanao Special

By Antonio Figueroa     Feb 4, 2010 in Technology
DAVAO CITY – Despite critical issues such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Maguindanao massacre, private armed groups (PAGs), and political warlordism, the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in Mindanao in booming.
The BPO, which originally had only 2,000 call center agents a decade ago, has not close to half a million employees and personnel, making it the biggest private employer next only to the government which employs more than a million.
In a visit to Davao City, the most progressive city in Southern Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo acknowledged that the development in the BPO sector has made the country’s call center business “a global powerhouse.”
“The IT industry,” she said, “is part of the legacy I will leave, adding that “Knowledge revolution will lead us to the first world.” she said, compared to the past then the “economy then was jammed in reverse and few investments and jobs were being created. It was a time of low salaries and high inflation."
She made the statement on the same day Cebu, the premier city in central Philippines, was named by India-based Tholons, a global outsourcing advisory firm, as the world’s Top 2009 Emerging Global Outsourcing Destination.
Arroyo visited the Concentrix Call Center at the Damosa IT Park in Lanang, this city, as part of her ‘cyber corridor’ schedule, which brought her to various urban centers around the country where there are BPO investments.
Official figures show that in 2009 the national BPO earnings had already reached $7.3 billion compared India’s $9-billion-a-year call center sector revenues.
Next year the government has projected the BPO employment would hit the one-million mark.
According to the Davao City Outsourcing Industry Primer, Davao City was among the Top 5 Best in Human Resource and Number 1 in Asian Youngest Cities (% Population under 25 years of age) according to the ranking made in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in its Asian Cities of the Future Awards of 2007- 2008.
Davao City, which the President has dubbed as one of the “new wave cities" under the government’s Cyber Corridor program, has, in recent years, also become the preferred business hub for information, communications and technology (ICT) investments.
Today, it plays host to 18 call centers that employ around 7,000 employees, part of the 500,000-strong workforce potentials the government has identified.
Other cities included in the next-wave list for BPO are nine investment destinations in Luzon and one in the Visayas.
ICT Davao president Lizabel ‘Wit’ Holganza said the optimism shown by the BPO industry has resulted in the rise of numerous call centers in the city over the past five years, a positive development against a backdrop of isolated and, at times, disconcerting peace and order disturbances in some Mindanao regions.
She disclosed that there had been other companies waiting to transfer their BPO locations in the city but had to move to other cities after facing accreditation problems.
Also, she raised the issue of opening more Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) accredited IT facilities in the city in order to have more room for the emergent number of job opportunities in the BPO industry.
The President also underscored the fact the success of the ICT industry after the government had put in place the necessary investment safety nets and incentives for its growth while removing often misconstrued interference on the part of the government in the BPO sector.
More about Call center, Mindanao, Ict
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