Call centre company, Qualfon, yesterday embarked on a massive expansion of its business here which will see US$4M ($800M) spent in the first phase on a complex at Providence with a promise of 6,000 new jobs in about three years.
Reputedly the largest private employer in the country, the sod-turning ceremony yesterday marked what could be a key expansion of the Information and Communication Technology sector here.
Qualfon’s newest call centre is slated for completion in the next three years while the first phase of construction will be completed in the next year at a cost of US$4 million, the ceremony was told.
Qualfon’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike Marrow said “it is probably two to three times that (US$4M) …over the next three years as we build”, when Stabroek News asked how much the complete investment was. He said that as the call centre campus expanded and the accredited university component was added along with the medical facilities, the investment would grow. He spoke with this newspaper at the turning-of-the-sod ceremony on the 10-acre site at Providence, East Bank Demerara behind the Princess Hotel.
He noted also that “there will be three to four different phases depending on how quickly clients want to put business here, but I would say in two to three years we should be complete”.
During his speech, he said that “this is the ideal place to grow our business. Over the next few years this campus will become the largest business hub for Qualfon and our most significant investment to date anywhere in the world.” Qualfon has operations in several countries.
He praised the Guyanese workforce for their dedication and noted that the staff has assured that Qualfon could boast an employee retention rate that was twice the industry norm. Marrow noted that job satisfaction was one of the reasons the company was driven to provide free medical service and maternity care along with a milk subsidy programme to the children of employees. He noted that the accredited university will be an added benefit to staff and the company as a whole.
Mark Boyer, the Providence Site Director stated that the Guyanese market and the English speakers have made it a viable option for multiple business processing outsourcing (BPO) providers and out of the company’s nine global complexes, Qualfon Guyana ranked number one.
Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh acknowledged that diversification of Guyanese traditional industries meant that BPOs such as Qualfon could find a hub here something which promotes international investments. He said “Qualfon is here because they recognize Guyana is good for business”. He added that it was “a very positive signal you’ve sent to the world about Guyana being an attractive place for doing business.”
Meanwhile, Qualfon’s Chief Operating Officer, Alejandra Romero told Stabroek News that the company purchased the 10 acres from a private owner. She noted that “the concession was basically to get the land on credit in a premier area that was developed by the government, promotion that we get every time we bring clients.”
She said that she did not have the price paid for the land at hand when asked and did not delve further into any government concessions. She did say the company is continuing to pay for the land and is working on an investment project to do so.
The call centre complex is primed to create 6000 jobs on top of the already 1500- member staff. While executives did not delve into the number of clients currently utilizing Qualfon’s services, Stabroek News was told that they ranged from banking services, retailers and the wireless industry to name a few. Prior to the sod turning ceremony the company revealed that the complex will have a “green” component in the construction along with an onsite water treatment facility as well as an interfaith chapel. Qualfon has been in operation in Guyana since 2005 and originally launched operation with only 50 employees growing to at one point 2000.
Operating here since 2005, Qualfon says it has “average employee tenure of 28.8 months and an average monthly attrition rate 5.45%” in its facilities here.