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Growth & Jobs | Economy Boost: itel Helps to Grow Economy

April 16, 2019
The Gleaner | April 16, 2019
  Local company itelbpo has seen the number of its employees move from seven to 2,000 in less than seven years, but beyond providing a salary for these individuals, the organisation’s founder, Yoni Epstein, is happy that his company is also contributing to growth and jobs indirectly. “The industry provides jobs and by providing jobs, it provides an income to individuals, and we all know that about 90 per cent of one’s salary goes back into the local economy; whether you are buying goods or services at supermarkets, gas station, taxi and so on,” he said. “In our packages, we subsidise lunch, so we work with different food vendors to provide those services. We also provide transportation, so we work with third-party vendors; so this is all building the local economy around the sector,” he said before adding, “So it is not necessarily just about salaries, but it is also support services. At hotels, we have clients come in and stay for four, five weeks, or we rent villas for them to stay while they are here in training,” added Epstein, who is also the executive chairman of itelbpo. He added that some of these individuals work during the week and invite their families to visit on weekends, thereby contributing to the tourism industry. While there are several BPOs operating in Jamaica, itelbpo has been one the fastest-growing home-grown operations, and Epstein has plans to expand even further. There are already two branches in the Montego Bay Freeport and he is currently working on a third building in that general area. During a recent interview at the BPO’s New Kingston offices, Epstein disclosed that they are planning to expand to a neighbouring building and also in Kingston generally. “We have expanded outside and we will continue to expand, [but] Jamaica is our home. Jamaica has about 72 per cent of our overall business, but, obviously, we will continue to look. There are other jurisdictions and services that we want to provide,” he said. Epstein and his wife Lisa started the business in June 2012, after quitting his job. “I literally stopped working on a Friday, I got the weekend off and started,” he said. Epstein had previous experience as a call centre agent and knew that he could create a successful business, given his knowledge of the sector. But while the organisation have been tremendously successful, there were some challenges along the way. The firm provides a wide range of services to clients. This includes inbound and outbound sales, customer service, online chat, surveys, software development and digital marketing. These services are provided to US-based corporations. “The US itself continues to grow. It is also cheaper to operate offshore. Jamaica has an advantage because it is the third-largest English-speaking country in the Western Hemisphere. It has an advantage because of its cultural affinity to the US. It has an advantage because of the time it takes to get to Jamaica versus going to India and the Philippines and other places. With all these things, Jamaica is packaged very well to be successful within this industry,” he said.
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