Guide to Egypt Outsourcing (BPO)
If one had to find the center of the world, chances are that it would be in or close to Egypt. Egypt has Europe directly above across the Mediterranean, Africa languorously stretched out below, the mass of Asia hulking to the right with the Americas a hop across the Atlantic to the left.
For a business that involves providing a variety of services to its clients across the world as is the case with Business Process Outsourcing, or BPO, there perhaps could not be a better location than Egypt. With telecommunications technology making it possible for work to be done in the most appropriate locations, anywhere in the world, Egypt BPO is ready to make its geographical location count.
But it was not always this way. Egypt outsourcing was nowhere near as established as a natural provider of BPO services just a few years back as it is today.
Outsourcing services started getting recognized when consumer businesses started gaining in volume and reach. This could have happened sometime around the middle of the 20th century. Having said that, outsourcing has always been an option for a business or organization or even individuals, from time immemorial. Hiring a teacher or tutor for your children can be considered as a form of outsourcing, can it not? Instead of tutoring your children yourself, you are outsourcing the task to a ‘vendor’ for a commercial consideration. Pope Julius II commissioning Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel could be considered as an act of outsourcing, could it not?
The initial push was for ‘internal outsourcing’ where businesses would segregate the teams that were carrying out activities that met their criteria and could be segregated. This could be based on volume, it could be based on whether it was customer-facing or not, or it could be based on whether it needs to be done in real-time or could be done with a lag. Whatever the criteria, such work areas started being identified and handled as separate units. Along the way, professional outsourcing firms emerged to take on the responsibility and even provide better results as a result of their focus and proficiency.
As volumes grew, along with pressure on expensive downtown real estate, outsourced units started being moved away from these prime locations into less expensive ones, keeping in mind work requirements along with availability of manpower. Outsourced units continued to be placed further and further away from the ‘client’ units to get the benefits of cheaper real estate and manpower availability till we reached the nineties when commercial use of the internet freed outsourcing from the shackles of being located within a certain geographical area or distance and gave rise to offshoring.
A feature of outsourcing is that work tends to flow from what we know as a more ‘developed’ economy to a ‘less’ developed one as there are cost saving opportunities to be had. Till the time outsourcing was bound by physical distances and boundaries, work that was being outsourced, was probably being done not too far away. Being one of the more ‘developed’ economies in its neck of the woods, Egypt was not suitable for any BPO work that may have been generated by its neighbors. It might actually have been in a position to outsource work to its neighbors. However, once the geographical limitations were taken off, Egypt was able to get into the game.
Being the biggest economy in the world, a lot of the initial traffic was generated by the US. The initial beneficiaries for locating BPO business were countries like India and the Philippines whose large English-speaking populations could handle the requirements which were mostly in English. Not only for the US but other smaller, ‘developed’ economies like the UK, Australia and Canada, all primarily English-speaking nations. Soon the practice was adopted by other Western European nations, putting Egypt outsourcing firmly center-stage.
Political developments over the last decade would have caused uncertainty and turmoil in a relatively new Egypt outsourcing industry. While a long-time ruler does present a veneer of stability, it appears to be a case of ‘all may not have been well under the veneer’ as the situation unravelled in 2011 with the Arab Spring uprising. The junta that took over power eventually yielded to elections that paved the way for the current President as-Sisi to take over the reigns of power.
Business needs a stable and predictable political climate to flourish. Investment decisions are based on long-term prospects. Frequent governance changes are likely to keep investors away as they are bound to be concerned about the safety and viability of their investments. Hence, for business to flourish, or indeed any activity, an enabling, stable political environment is a necessity. Recognizing this truism, Egypt has invested in improving the telecommunications infrastructure that drives the internet and also created economic zones with a supporting environment for technology companies.
oWorkers respects local decision-making and hopes for political stability in all regions of the world, necessary for mitigating human misery and improvement in quality of life. Our Cairo center is an important cog in our BPO wheel and we are hopeful it will continue to grow and create opportunities in the local economy.
Business-friendly economic policies that support Egypt outsourcing
Though we have discussed political stability, which is no doubt a pre-requisite, business organizations, apart from a transparent law and order mechanism, are interested in the economic environment where there is stability and consistency, encourages businesses to operate with freedom, without the fear of sudden changes that could jeopardize their business and investments.
Proof of the pudding being in the eating, more than the speeches of political and business leaders, large, widely known companies like Google and IBM operating from Egypt over several years is a sign of confidence to other, smaller players as well. Physically located at civilizational crossroads, Egypt is viewed as a gateway to Europe, Africa and West Asia and a potential hub for technology and business process services.
oWorkers operates from the capital city and main urban agglomeration of Cairo, from the Maadi area which is well known as the best business location in the city. As recently as 2019, Cairo has been identified as one of the top-ranked worldwide outsourcing destinations according to AT Kearney & Tholons.
BPO work tends to flow from locations that are advanced on the development scale to locations that are less so. The major demand for BPO services continues to emanate from North America and Western Europe, with an effort at reducing processing costs while gaining access to a larger talent pool.
While telecommunications technology does drive the business to all corners of the globe, the importance of physical oversight and a touch-and-feel, even though it may be occasional, cannot be overstated. Clients also need to ensure that the processing activities being done by a vendor do not mar the brand in any manner. Hence, physical proximity of the provider does become a factor in many deals.
Egypt outsourcing companies like oWorkers are located in close proximity to one of their major client markets, that of Western Europe. No major European capital is more than a 5-hour flight away from Cairo.
Egypt outsourcing companies can access a large, qualified labor pool
While a supporting environment and infrastructure is essential for any activity, in case of BPO, once the basics are aligned, technology and human resources are the two main factors in continuing success of the business.
With its status as a progressive society in the region, and with an established education infrastructure, Egypt has drawn youngsters from neighboring societies for higher education and work opportunities. Its annual outturn of 500,000 graduates provides a unique growth opportunity to the industry to scale up operations. Taking the 100 million population into account as well, Egypt has the wherewithal to challenge the hegemony of established providers like India and the Philippines.
oWorkers establishes ties in the communities it works with and strives to achieve the status of a preferred employer. Cairo is no different. Known as a fair employer with transparent work policies, we attract a lot of footfall from interested jobseekers that gives us access to a perennial talent pool. All our staff are employees, not freelancers. We pay social taxes for our employees and have been rated above 4.6/5 consistently on Glassdoor.
As businesses around the world have acquired scale, the need for multilingual processing has expanded. When a business expands and comes into contact with regions that use other languages, it does not want to go looking for another provider to handle that requirement. It would like a partner that can support its growth. Besides, global ambitions of businesses are rising, not reducing.
Egypt BPO providers can dip into a large workforce of talent with capability in a wide variety of languages. Apart from the ubiquitous English, graduate studies with the language of study being either French or German is quite common. As is the language of study being Spanish, Turkish or Italian. Russian and Chinese speakers are also available. Other languages include Farsi, Greek, Siamese, Hebrew, Urdu, Korean, Japanese and Czech.
Being a provider to multinational organizations from around the world, multilingual capability remains a key element of oWorkers’ BPO proposition with Cairo being an integral part of it, with its ability to cater to a large cross-section of global languages.
Internet and Telecommunications
Apart from human resources, technology is the other key driver of this industry. The rapid advances in telecommunications technology has been the catalyst for the growth that has taken the industry to the far corners of the world and brought millions of people into the fold of the connected world.
With the introduction of 4G technology in the country and investments in upgrading to fiber optic cabling, the government is keen to position Egypt as a ‘digital canal’ perhaps as a reference to the Suez Canal that connects Europe to Asia as a shipping route. With greater reliance on the internet, like for example during the Covid-19 induced lockdowns, telecommunications infrastructure can only get better, making the industry backbone more supple.
Like other Egypt outsourcing providers, oWorkers relies on the improving network to connect with the world and offer its services. The Communications and Information Technology ministry has said that it is investing USD 1.6 bn to improve internet speed, with the aim of reaching 40 mbps by the end of 2021. In addition, we operate from secure facilities and protocols for your data security with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015).
Time Zone in which Egypt BPO operates
The sun rises and sets in different parts of the world at different times, driving our circadian rhythms. With BPO work being done from all corners of the globe, time zones become a factor in choosing a provider.
Providers enjoy the benefit of being present in a time zone that is fairly closely aligned with its major markets in Western Europe. This allows for ease in handling real-time work, customer calls for instance, or social media moderation, the bulk of which is likely to arise during daytime hours, which are similar on both the client and the provider side.
Of course, BPO providers have long shown the commitment to operate night shifts to handle client work, if that adds value.
Sharing its time zone with Bulgaria, Estonia, South Africa, Finland, Greece, Romania, and others, oWorkers in Egypt operates on East European Time (EET), which is UTC + 2 (with the offset for Daylight Savings). This permits smooth daytime operations for Western European clients as well as clients from West Asia. Of course, oWorkers also offers 24×7 processing facilities, should there be a client need.
Operating Cost and Infrastructure
Like for like, Egypt could be offering the best value to clients. It has been gradually rising the Ease of Doing Business index published by the World Bank since the turmoil of 2011. Coupled with the availability of resources at a cost lower than many locations in India, attrition rates that are much lower for comparable projects in India, education levels that require only moderate investments in training and skilling, Egypt BPO becomes an irresistible combination.
Transport in Cairo comprises an extensive road network, rail system, subway system and maritime services for the more than 15.2 million inhabitants of the city.
oWorkers operates from a digitally and physically secure facility in the Maadi area of Cairo. Our BPO services company offers cost savings of up to 80 %, without compromising on quality, as advised by some of our clients.
We are a company specializing in data services and have been ranked among the Top 3 in the world.
With a management team that has a cumulative experience of over 20 years, with oWorkers you engage a provider that will enable you to get the benefits of working from a center located in the center of the world, within easy reach from any part on any side.