[5 Dec 2022]: iContact BPO, a leading Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) provider, officially launched its new Johannesburg operation in Houghton. The investment into South Africa’s burgeoning BPO sector is a continued strategic development for iContact BPO which specializes in inbound and outbound customer service and sales, financial services support, customer retention and loyalty management, lead generation and back-office fulfillment predominantly for international business clients based in the US, UK, Europe and Australia.

iContact is part of the Alefbet Holdings group which owns numerous customer service and collections BPO providers and employs some 1500 full time employees across its operations in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The launch of iContact’s new Houghton contact center – which brings 100 additional new agent jobs to the industry, largely driven by demand from US business – was attended by the MEC for Economic Development Gauteng, Ms Tasneem Motara as well as senior representatives from the US Department of Commerce, the DTIC, the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency and BPESA – welcoming the investment into South Africa’s burgeoning BPO sector – also known as Global Business Services (GBS).

According to the South Africa National GBS Quantification & Investment Report 2021/22 published by Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA), South Africa’s BPO sector has enjoyed rapid growth, with a ~25% compound annual growth rate between 2015 and 2021, becoming a major global outsourcing and offshoring contender, particularly in the English voice-based sourcing markets. According to the report, the GBS sector in the country has grown seven-fold, with the UK being the largest international source market, comprising 61% of South Africa’s international GBS market, followed by the United States (20%), Australia (8%), Europe (3%), China (1%) and other African countries (7%) – with a rich diversity of industries being serviced by South African international GBS workers, ranging from telecommunications to financial services, utilities to education and retail.

According to Clinton Cohen, CEO of iContact BPO, the surge in international business enquiries and deals closed by iContact BPO in the first half of 2022 show no signs of abating, and the niche BPO provider looks set for a record year.  “Demand for our BPO services from international businesses, notably in the United States and Canada, has been on a sharp upward trajectory.  Having our operations geographically placed between Johannesburg (Houghton and Randburg) as well as Cape Town presents a real win for our client base across diverse industry sectors, and a distinct competitive advantage for our business.”

iContact’s Johannesburg contact centers are strategically located close to Sandton, home to the head offices of all the major banks and Africa’s largest stock exchange, while iContact’s Cape Town operation is nestled in the Mother City, the second most populous city in South Africa and home to the Port of Cape Town, positioned along one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

“The combination of strategic locations, advanced business intelligence tools, data analytics capabilities, skilled leadership and large, educated skills pool with strong English language proficiency present our global customers with an unrivaled value proposition,” adds Cohen.

Besides the attraction of international investment into South Africa and the showcasing of our GBS capabilities to the world and contribution to our economy, the greatest win for South Africa’s GBS industry is from an impact sourcing perspective.  The growth of South Africa’s BPO sector is good news for youth employment, an area where some 70% of young South Africans are unemployed. The BPO sector provides a crucial lifeline for thousands of people, notably previously disadvantaged and especially disabled young South Africans – who find meaningful and stable employment in this growing industry.

“Every new seat added to our contact center operations is a full-time employee, and an opportunity for a young person to carve out a sustainable and rewarding career in a burgeoning industry that is international renowned and in high demand.  Across our business, impact sourcing is a strategic imperative for us. We welcome the tremendous collaboration that takes place between the public and private sectors to firstly attract overseas companies and investment to our shores by offering an exceptionally strong and efficient BPO sector, and secondly, the ability to create jobs and build careers for marginalised youth,” adds Cohen.

According to MEC for Economic Development Gauteng, Ms Tasneem Motara, the timing  of the iContact BPO launch  augers well with the Gauteng Provincial Government’s GBS initiatives.

MEC Motara said: “The iContact BPO launch comes at an opportune moment when we have recently rolled out Global Business Services infrastructure projects such as the business process outsourcing park in Hammanskraal and Jabulani. The Gauteng Provincial Government will launch Global Business Services hubs in NASREC and Jabulani, before moving to other areas in the province. So this launch today will undoubtedly contribute immensely to youth employment initiatives and attract global investors who plan to establish  BPO operations in the province,” said Motara.

South Africa’s GBS market was ranked first as the Most Favored Offshore CX Delivery Location for 2021 in the annual Global Front Office BPO Omnibus Survey by Ryan Strategic Advisory. Additionally, the country received further recognition as a High-Performing Customer Lifecycle Management Offshore Location in the GBS World Competitiveness Index.

According to McKinsey’s South Africa Big Five report, the country’s GBS sector could grow to over 775,000 jobs by 2030, with two-thirds of these in the service of overseas markets.

Clinton Cohen, CEO of iContact BPO concludes: “To move forward, South Africa’s GBS industry relies on focused and meaningful Government support, and the continued active lobbying of industry bodies such as Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA) and Cape BPO to showcase South Africa to the world. The business growth of South Africa’s BPO sector is underpinned by delivering strong offshoring fundamentals, bringing together the best of economics, quality BPO services, rapid scale, high service levels, socially responsible supply chains, policy certainty and industry-specific training and education programmes. It has never been more crucial for SA’s BPO industry, Government and labour to work collaboratively and strategically to realise the full investment potential that BPO holds for our country.”