BPeSA Western Cape is a public/private partnership that promotes and facilitates contact centre and business process outsourcing (BPO) investment into Cape Town and the Western Cape province of South Africa.
In addition to facilitating new investments, BPeSA Western Cape also runs industry training programmes to ensure a ready supply of suitably skilled labour, and acts as an interface between government and the private sector. The organisation is not for profit and receives 80% of its funding from the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and the City of Cape Town, and the remainder from the private sector. Five of its eight board members represent the local industry.
Profiling the Western Cape BPO sector
The job creation potential of BPO has led both national and provincial governments to declare it as a priority sector. BPeSA Western Cape was founded in 2001 to develop and support the BPO industry in Cape Town, and the Western Cape more broadly. It now hosts 20 major international investor delegations a year, as well as four outward missions.
BPeSA Western Cape promotes Cape Town as a low-risk, high quality business process outsourcing and contact centre destination. Cape Town is particularly well suited to customer service operations and complex back-office work in telecommunications, banking, financial services and insurance, for customers who already have experience of outsourcing to other destinations.
Companies that have established offshore operations in Cape Town with BPeSA Western Cape’s help include Teleperformance (700 seats), ASDA (700 seats), Lufthansa (450 seats)), TeleTech (1,200 seats) and Shell (400 seats). Altogether the BPO industry in the Western Cape currently employs 28,000 people in around 215 contact centres and BPO operations. These are concentrated in telecommunications and technical support, retail and financial services.
Developing BPO and contact centre skills
BPeSA estimates there is adequate short-term supply for up to 85,000 workers in the industry. In the longer term, both the government and the private sector are investing heavily in skills development and attractive incentives are available for those who take on learners and interns. BPesA itself runs a number of funded learnerships and skills programmes and works in close partnership with training institutions and Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).
BPeSA Western Cape offers comprehensive assistance to inward investors, from facilitating direct introductions to officials at all levels of government, though assistance with work permits, building plan approvals, tax and customs clearances to troubleshooting unexpected hitches and snags. Each investor is assigned a dedicated account manager.
Offshore investors in Cape Town have enjoyed savings of up to 30% per annum, without compromising quality of service to their customers. Voice of the Customer surveys for UK offshore work have shown very high levels of customer satisfaction (96%) and first call resolution (78%). In fact, only 5% of customers even realised they were speaking to an offshore agent: 1.2m residents of Cape Town speak English as their first language and their accent has proven acceptable across the UK, US and Europe.