Multi-lingual BPO firm eyes expansion in Davao, Iloilo

MANILA, Philippines – Multi-lingual business process outsourcing (BPO) firm Open Access BPO has no qualms about expanding outside Metro Manila after acquiring enough space to add another 1,000 seats via a second Makati office.

Company chief executive officer Benjamin Davidowitz told Rappler last Friday, July 12, that while they are on the lookout for remaining spaces in Metro Manila, the company is already planning to secure a few hundred more seats in Davao City. 

Open Access, which began operations in the Philippines in 2007, already has some 200 existing seats in Davao City and a total of 1,200 seats in Makati. The company provides multichannel business solutions in more than 30 languages.

"Because we’re already in Davao, we’re already familiar with the government there, we’re already familiar with the brokers," Davidowitz said.

"Iloilo is just another area where should we hit roadblocks [in Davao], that’s another area we will explore. There’s also a park there. But it’s a question of where we will feel more comfortable. So if we do go to Davao, it’s easier in terms of entry." 

Seeking spaces outside Metro Manila bodes well for the company after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 18, which halts proclamations of economic zones in Metro Manila to spur countryside growth.

What's more, office space supply in Metro Manila may just get tighter for BPOs as the offshore gaming industry became the leading source of demand in the first half of 2019, according to real estate consultancy firm Pronove Tai's report last July 17.

At 703,000 square meters (sqm), demand for Metro Manila office space outpaced supply in the first half of 2019 as available space was only at 448,000 sqm. Offshore gaming firms took up 45% of the demand or 315,000 sqm, 37% higher from 2018. 

Metro Manila still preferred

Davidowitz said that BPOs will still be seeking spaces in Metro Manila, given that a bulk of foreign talents they need are located here. Some 20% of Open Access employees are made up of foreigners, given the nature of their work.  

"Multilingual [work] has to be done here in Metro Manila but English [services] can be done in the countryside," Davidowitz added, but noted Davao already provides services in the French language.

The Contact Center Assoication of the Philippines (CCAP), while supporting the government's move for firms to locate outside Metro Manila, worried there will not be enough talents willing to locate in the countryside.

CCAP noted that most foreign firms looking to enter the Philippines prefer to locate in Cebu or Metro Manila, as these house most of the contact centers in the country.

To correct this, CCAP president Jojo Uligan said last July 5 ithas been active in urging locals to stay in their provinces through roadshows and partnering with state universities and colleges to ensure a steady stream of workers.

"But definitely, help from the government is needed to scale up the influence [such as] funding programs and learning activities," he added. – Rappler.com