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BPO firm pumps Sh75m into Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5 – The local Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry has received a shot in the arm with the injection of Sh75.6million ($900,000) by an international IT firm that has set up shop in Nairobi.

Digital Divide Data (DDD) Kenya will offer services such as data entry, electronic publishing, and back-office administrative tasks to customers in East Africa as well as international markets.

“DDD is a social enterprise in the BPO sector. We have ambitious goals of developing local, regional and international markets in this sector. This is a dynamic market with leading companies modernising their businesses.  We believe this is the right time for DDD to bring strong BPO service offerings to clients in East Africa,” said the Chief Executive Officer Amolo Ng’weno.

The outsourcing firm has been operating in South East Asia for the last 10 years where they are mostly involved in services such as digitising newspapers, journals, data entry, as well as digitising records in the financial sector there.

“We expect that the market in Kenya will be as large and potentially larger and more interesting,” Ms Ng’weno said ahead of the official launch on Tuesday evening.

The $900,000 fund was received from the Rockefeller Foundation in addition to some grants received from Microsoft and Cisco in support of the firm’s desire to innovate and also its social mission which involves hiring young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Ms Ng’weno said they have already hired 50 local youth and looking to expand this number to 300 in the next two years.

“We will employ young people who have graduated from high school and who are in the 18 to 24 age bracket and we are particularly those from Nairobi’s slum areas and those with disabilities,” she said adding that they are liaising with non governmental organisations working in those communities to identify such needy and qualified youth.

Besides the high literacy levels and relatively good English that is spoken in the country, Mrs Ng’weno said they chose Kenya for its vibrant private sector which they hope will be one of their major clients.

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In Laos and Cambodia, only 20 percent of their work comes from the local and regional market. However, the firm expects the proportion to be reverse in East Africa with 70 to 80 percent of the business coming from the domestic or local economy.

“DDD Kenya will offer a set of high-quality services to help publishers, financial services firms, telecommunications operators, government agencies, libraries and other organisations resolve paperwork backlogs and streamline customer records management,” the CEO who was the founder of Internet Service Provider, Africa Online, said.

The firm’s global CEO Jeremy Hockenstein said by bringing their 10 years expertise into Kenya and providing back office services for the local market, he hoped that they would bring in efficiency into these companies and in the economy.

This he said would eventually translate to a big growth for the BPO sector in the next few years just like the flourishing IT sector in Cambodia.

Mr Hockenstein appreciated that just like any other start up; they would face challenges such as in the area of training and bringing the international technology experience into the country.

However, these challenges he said are not insurmountable and going by the number of international clients that they already have, he believed that they would be able to deal with any challenge as they embark on establishing their operations.

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