A small business in Midrand is making waves in the international call centre market.Woman-owned e-Centric has undertaken seven call centre campaigns for UK and Dutch companies in the past six months, pointing to growing opportunities for small tele-businesses.

Roz Bromme, who owns the company together with Martello Momple, says the telephonic customer interaction campaigns have been good for e-Centric. "They have enabled us to gain more experience delivering international projects." The total value of the campaigns so far is around R850 000. It is hoped they will open new international markets for the company.

Consultancy Active Marketing is working in conjunction with e-Centric to ensure the campaigns run smoothly. Managing director Ton Brouwers believes that the local industry is poised for massive growth.

This is because South Africa’s financial and telecom s infrastructure is world class. The country’s call centre industry has highly skilled staff with a good command of English. It also falls within UK and Western European time zones.First-world companies can save up to 50% by outsourcing this function to South African firms.

The Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency says South Africa’ s call centre business has grown by up to 35% since 1996. It expects growth of 20%-25% in the coming years, particularly for small- and medium-sized call centres (10 to 50 seats). This will take the turnover of the industry to well over the current level of R500-million.

Brouwers says e-Centric has demonstrated why South Africa is a destination of choice for many businesses. He says the company, which has an annual turnover if R17-million, can manage campaigns efficiently and effectively.

"South Africa will soon outstrip major rivals, including India, the Philippines and Eastern Europe, for companies wishing to outsource their call centres," Brouwers says.

Research and advisory company Gartner says the global business process outsourcing market, which includes human resources, medical transcriptions, insurance and call centres, is set to surge 10.5% to $122-billion this year, up from $110-billion in 2002.

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