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Harambee disrupts South African BPO using impact sourcing

14th Feb 2019

Momentum around South Africa’s outsourcing sector continues in 2019, with that country’s BPO stakeholders charging forward into offshore markets new and old.  This comes on the heels of a number of major initiatives and promotions engineered by South African outsourcing leaders. One of the most interesting angles is how impact sourcing initiatives are facilitating investment.  In fact, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, which is arguably the country’s most prominent organization of its type, has moved into new territory of customer experience delivery. It is not only a new dynamic in South Africa’s outsourcing market, it also serves as a model to similar initiatives globally.

Industry watchers agree that few offshore locations around the world have done as much to promote their contact center outsourcing bona fides as South Africa over the past year or so.  Initiatives have included hosting visiting influencer delegations, promoting specific South African regions overseas, and announcing new incentive packages in strategic buying markets.  This work has begun to pay dividends, with new deployments and partnerships specific to overseas delivery taking root. Among the most recent is Golden Gate BPO’s extension of services to Durban, which was announced at the end of January.

The country’s overall favourability in key buying markets is captured in the most recent Ryan Strategic Advisory Front Office Omnibus Survey; South Africa tied for second place among buyers of contact center services.

However, in having this discussion it is important to remember that the domestic market opportunity remains fertile. It is in this vein that impact sourcing pioneer Harambee is carving out a niche.

As reported in this space at the end of 2016, Harambee has been instrumental in helping disadvantaged youth in South Africa to source employment in contact center environments by way of teaching both practical work training and the soft skills needed to navigate the modern workplace.  The organization’s efforts in this regard recently received significant praise from the IAOP in the form of a Global Impact Sourcing Award.  But, for those who believe in the impact sourcing model, what is truly inspiring about Harambee is how the organization is evolving up the customer experience value chain.

With the launch of its own contact center deployments in its central Johannesburg facility, Harambee has developed a new stream of revenue to fund its operations. But, more than that, it has developed a forum in which trained prospective agents can transition seamlessly within the organization to practical application of their skills.  The contact center workstations that have been deployed within Harambee support telco consumers across different channels. This furnishes agents with the sort of real-world experience that can be continually developed internally, or that can be carried to new employers.  But what is fundamental is that Harambee has successfully managed to drive front-line end-user support using the impact sourcing model.  Not only is this a notable win in the context of South African BPO, it serves as an example for other locations, in Africa and elsewhere, for stakeholders who are anxious to further develop skills training into practical application.

As Harambee continues to develop within South African BPO, there is little doubt that its importance at the heart of this national industry will stand out even more.  Its success needs to be emulated where possible in other areas in which disadvantaged youth seek new employment opportunities.  This will help source new and motivated talent, and from a humanitarian perspective it is the right thing to do.

This article was published here by Ryan Strategic Advisory in February 2019.

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