Honduras 2020 organizes 1st International BPO Summit

A recent Nearshore Americas trade mission to Honduras has prompted media groups in the country to focus more closely on the local BPO and tech industries, with a daily newspaper estimating an increase of up to 8,000 BPO jobs in 2018.

Foreign BPO firms are trying to capitalize on the easy availability of bilingual speakers in the country, declared Spanish paper La Prensa in a lengthy article containing comments from Honduran officials, such as Peter Fleming, executive director of Honduras 20/20.

“I think the possibilities are pretty big; we already have them here, now we have to convince them,” said Fleming, who also stated that some BPO firms in Costa Rica and Belize were thinking of shifting operations to Honduras.

The two-day investors’ meet, which took place on November 29 and 30, “ended with great expectations for next year,” the paper said, adding that the investor groups assessed the BPO infrastructure in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa.

Citing officials, La Prensa also estimates that Honduras services industry will end the year with US$80 million in revenue.

“The conditions for investment are quite attractive,” said Kirk Laughlin, Managing Director at Nearshore Americas. “Not only do I advise [investors] to establish call centers in Honduras, I would also tell them that they can provide other services from the country as well.”

The trade mission was also covered on Honduran television, with one news outlet interviewing many government officials and members of the trade mission, including Laughlin.

Source: http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/trade-mission-honduras-headlines/

Commercial Mission of Honduras 2020 in Mexico

Tegucigalpa – The Honduras 2020 Transformation Unit introduced Mexican companies interested in investment and operation expansion in Central America, the country´s competitive advantages.

Peter Fleming, CEO of this public-private organization, along with a group of its executives and Ambassador Alden Rivera, made successful business confereences in the cities of Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

The one-on-one meetings respond to previous visit follow-ups with companies focused on intermediate manufacturing, technology, call centers, agroindustry and tourism, all with Mexican capital and with great willingness to invest in the region for strategic reasons such as: geographic location, commercial relationships, low cost and skilled labor force.

Honduras is currently at an extraordinary moment to be able to carry out this promotion exercise. The country´s macroeconomic situation is going through its best moment in the last 20 years, as well as the implementation of new programs and investment promotion laws with the most modern legal framework in Latin America. Mexican government authorities, foreign relations, PROMEXICO, Mexican Council of Foreign Trade, companies and media, learned about all the initiatives that have been taking place in Honduras, which motivated them to make the decision to visit Honduras with concrete proposals for investment and employment generation, having received to date, the first visit of these Mexican companies.

Honduras 20/20 es un ejemplo a nivel mundial

Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

¿En qué consiste el Programa Honduras 20/20?
Es una estrategia de país que fue establecida a través de la contratación de una compañía consultora internacional llamada McKinsey, que tienen oficinas en 60 países. La intención del sector privado era establecer un rumbo hacia donde llevar la economía del país y generar un crecimiento económico. Inicialmente fue generado por el sector privado y luego presentó los primeros puntos al presidente de la República, conscientes que ningún plan podría tener éxito si el lado gubernamental no está de acuerdo. Mucha de la estructura y la simplificación administrativa sale del Gobierno. De alguna forma u otra tenía que convertirse en un proyecto para ambos.

¿Cuáles fueron los retos que tenían que solventar en ese momento?
La estrategia debe basarse en ventajas competitivas, y es interesante saber que en el Triángulo Norte de Centroamérica hemos manejado un discurso o un nivel de noticia en el que Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras siempre estamos en conflicto y no un país del que se puede generar inversiones. Siempre han sido el sur de Centroamérica, Costa Rica y Panamá, los que han atraído inversiones. Con esto buscamos establecer un plan de nación y dirigirlo en una forma que fuese alcanzable, medible y principalmente para nosotros que tuviera ese componente donde la empresa privada y el sector gobierno pudieran sentarse y resolver los problemas del país. Especialmente, generar crecimiento económico y dinamizarla para atraer inversiones que se traducen nuevos empleos. Ese es el esquema adonde nace el 20/20.

Fotos: Andro Rodríguez
Peter Fleming recibió a LA PRENSA en la oficina del 20/20, ubicada en el Centro Morazán de Tegucigalpa.

¿Qué condiciones son necesarias para que exista una iniciativa de este tipo?
Para esto debe de haber una macroeconomía sólida y sana, tiene que existir una percepción de seguridad ciudadana, estabilidad fiscal y una estrategia. Ya Honduras está alcanzando respaldo de las calificadoras de riesgo país que son niveles únicos e históricos. Tenemos una macroeconomía sana, con un crecimiento del producto interno bruto (PIB) que alcanza el 4%, y algunos especialistas son muy positivos y dicen que podemos superarlo.

¿Cuál es el objetivo del Honduras 20/20?
Es romper los paradigmas que han existido de que en este país no se puede atraer inversión, y creo que ese el reto más importante que a mí me ha dado el presidente: a través de esta Unidad de Transformación, entre los dos sectores, más los seis ejes priorizados, buscar empresas que quieran invertir en Honduras.

¿Cuáles oportunidades de inversión han identificado hasta ahora?
Las oportunidades son miles. Por ejemplo, en BPO (subcontratación de funciones) porque tenemos una de las tasas más altas de bilingüismo en Latinoamérica, entonces, los call centers nos vienen a buscar. Oportunidades en agronegocios, vivienda social en busca de reducir el déficit de vivienda, el sector de manufactura textil y de intermedia. Vamos a generar un montón de ruedas de negocios para seguir generando oportunidades. Aunque también hay ciertas variables transversales que deben estar listas para que esto también funcione. Esto no es una receta mágica.

La dinámica de la economía mundial es muy ágil y cambia de un día para otro, por eso debemos de enfocarnos en identificarlas.

¿Qué resultados han obtenido con las giras?
Tomé posesión el primero de septiembre y empezamos un plan de trabajo del trimestre. El primer trabajo que debemos hacer es aquí adentro. Entre octubre y noviembre tenemos planificadas giras por diferentes cámaras de comercio nacionales. Tenemos que hacer ver a los empresarios las oportunidades de inversión acá para luego ir a traer a alguien. Adicional, hemos tenido un enorme apoyo por parte de la Cancillería, a través de los embajadores de los diferentes países que están haciendo una labor como gestores de negocios.

¿Qué percepción hay del Honduras 20/20 a nivel internacional?
El programa es un ejemplo a nivel mundial de cómo un pequeño país de Centroamérica en el que dos sectores están tomando decisiones para ser más eficientes. Esa es una plataforma que muchos países de Centroamérica quisieran tener.

¿Piensan blindar la estrategia de Honduras ante posibles copias de los países vecinos?
No podemos hacerlo, será muy difícil, pero como bien dijo Hugo Barquerizo, crear estas estrategias va más allá. McKinsey señaló que el 57% de las iniciativas de transformación económicas no son exitosas, porque solo lo hace un sector. La clave es la implementación, la seriedad de un plan de trabajo con objetivos claros.

¿Quién evaluará los resultados del 20/20?
Las evaluaciones son trimestrales y las mediciones las hace el consejo directivo que forman empresarios y Gobierno. Obviamente, ahora me evaluarán a mí para que ver si hay retornos y resultados.

¿Qué lecciones les dejó el Honduras is Open for Business de 2011?
Fue un éxito, pero no se le dio seguimiento. No había alguien detrás diciendo ‘tenemos todas estas oportunidades’ y delegarlas a un equipo de trabajo para cerrar las negociaciones. Yo estuve ahí y fue monumental, trajeron a Carlos Slim y lo sentaron para hacer inversiones con empresarios de primer nivel, pero no hubo seguimiento. Fue una gestión del sector Gobierno a medias con la empresa privada, pero sin seguimiento que provocó que su estructura no funcionara. El seguimiento puede faltar por muchas cosas, pero los temas más importantes es tener enfoques sobre las empresas con las queremos conversar para negociar.

Se ha dicho mucho que las metas serán cumplidas para 20/20, ¿es posible?
Quiero ser muy claro, esto no es política. Esto es que un hondureño toma las riendas que pese a ser la máxima autoridad del país también tiene una visión a largo plazo. Por eso 20/20 tiene una pleca, para representar la visión de desarrollo de país. No es el año 2020, porque si no ya fuéramos tarde. Hay que hacerle entender a la gente que no para el 2020 vamos a tener 600,000 empleos nuevos. Eso es irreal y trabajo con realidades, objetivos y resultados. El 20/20 es una visión perfecta hacia el desarrollo que va muy enfocada. Los resultados se van a ir viendo y serán más visibles bajando los niveles de percepción de mala imagen a nivel internacional.

¿Cuáles son los resultados tangibles de este programa a la fecha?
Tenemos 49,000 empleos registrados a la fecha y cerca de 950 millones de dólares en exportaciones adicionales, alrededor de 280 millones de dólares en el crecimiento de la inversión extranjera directa. Tenemos un nuevo código tributario, la ley de incentivos al turismo y la pronta publicación del reglamento. También la ley de zonas libres y otras que debemos revisar para que estén acorde a los tiempos y ver el marco competitivo que tenemos a nivel de la región.

¿En qué año veremos un verdadero despegue del Honduras 20/20?
Sabemos que 2018 y 2019 serán años cruciales para el programa, pero debemos arrancar ya. Ya estamos con un plan de trabajo y definidas algunas ruedas de negocio. Primero debemos sentarnos para ver las oportunidades de corto y mediano plazo que impacten ahora. Tenemos cosas muy fuertes, como mejorar la conectividad del país, si por ejemplo al inversionista le cuesta $2,000 (47,000 lempiras) viajar a Honduras desde Miami. Hay muchas cosas que hacer, pero lo más importante es rodearnos de personas capacitadas para darles oportunidades.

¿Cómo se sostiene esta Unidad de Transformación Honduras 20/20?
Somos una oficina totalmente privada. Todos los empleados tienen contrato de empresa privada, pero sí recibimos aportaciones de parte de los dos sectores.

 

Fuente: http://www.laprensa.hn/economia/1117205-410/honduras_2020-ejemplo-nivel-mundial-programa-empleo

Empresarios y ejecutivos de diversos rubros de la economía del país tuvieron la oportunidad de conocer las metas y logros del Programa Honduras 2020

Empresarios y ejecutivos de diversos rubros de la economía del país tuvieron la oportunidad de conocer las metas y logros del Programa #Honduras2020.

#AtrayendoInversión

 

Empresarios y ejecutivos de diversos rubros de la economía del país tuvieron la oportunidad de conocer las metas y logros del Programa

United States has qualified us as “The Honduran miracle”

Honduran business leader, Luis Napoleón Larach, is in Washington DC for a joint visit with other leaders of the business leaders of Central America to explain the situation of their countries, about the relationship and objectives for the region drawn by United States.

Larach is the president of the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP) and in an interview with “El Diario de Hoy” he highlights the advances of the neighboring country in different areas to seek the development demanded by the Honduran people.

He notes the constructive and fruitful dialogue between the private sector and the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández as positive and how mutual contributions have served to reverse the negative indicators that a few years ago placed Honduras on the most critical stages of insecurity and lack of opportunities.

He values ​​the contributions of US cooperation along with the North Triangle of Central America Prosperity Alliance Plan, whose initial funding is $ 650 million dollars and the capitalization of joint investments with the private sector in his country.

What is the importance of this visit to Washington as a representative of the private sector of Honduras?

This time we are working together with all the presidents of the business leader organizations of Central America to make a courtesy visit to different organizations and institutions of the United States government, where we will be presenting our work plan for the North Triangle Prosperity Alliance Plan. Recalling that when we refer to the Northern Triangle, the beginning of a plan (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador), but includes the rest of the countries, including Mexico, Belize, and the rest of the Central American countries.

As a form of a regional consensual approach?

Yes, we are studying the common themes that unite us, problems on which we have to seek solutions together instead of making a wall, as we have talked about the migration issue, We are all concerned that migration has a very high cost for our countries, ranging from family disintegration and the problems that lead to citizen insecurity, among others.

How receptive have you felt to your unified message as a Central American private sector?

Very good, there is a full awareness at the level of the private sector of our countries as well as at the level of the United States government that the best way to face the problems in the region is through the generation of opportunities. Our challenge is how to strengthen those economic bases to generate opportunities for our people. There is no better social program or social assistance than decent and sustainable employment.

How much can the private sector capitalize the $ 650 million US donation to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the North Triangle plan?

I can talk about Honduras particularly. We are developing a program together with the government, where we not only participate in the work tables and in the decision-making process, but we are also contributing almost 50 percent of the resources needed to be able to develop this program. Also, we are investing in agriculture and housing development programs that are required to generate opportunities for our people through investment. This programs are not donations, this are self-sustaining programs that generate a profitability, which is reinvested to continue generating employment and development.

We have seen compliments from Senior US Government Officials regarding the country´s advances after the political instability in 2009. How solid is it?

We had our first political instability in 2009, after being a very stable country. However, we have recovered in this matter and we are approaching a new electoral process that will take place on November 26, and we hope that it will be carried out as a true civic party, with peace and tranquility, as a rule of democracy.

And is there enough progress in economic matters?

The economic sector is a good indicator. In our case, it has been growing above the estimates that had been projected for this year, considering that this is a political year, it is atypical because normally even in the United States when approaching an electoral process the investments are stagnant, but this is not the case in Honduras where we had projected to grow 3.6 percent on GDP (Gross Domestic Producer), but we will exceed 4.1 percent, which indicates that even in an election year we continue to grow.

What about the security?

We were mentioned as one of the most violent countries in the world, San Pedro Sula one of the most dangerous cities, which was never true. I  can assure you that insecurity levels that the country reflected a few years ago have been completely reversed. It is not paradise yet, but we have managed to reverse those negative trends by more than 50 percent compared to the levels we had previously.

Security matters also received praise in Washington…

Yes, United States has qualified us as “The Honduran miracle”, because our authorities and  justice operators are doing an excellent job.

Fuente: http://www.eldiariodehoy.com/negocios/60291/estados-unidos-nos-ha-calificado-como-el-milagro-hondureno/ 

1000 new jobs will offer the new Honduran Brewery Plant

San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

With an investment of 590 million lempiras, the Honduran Brewery Plant, “Cervecería Hondureña” will expand its beer production plant.

Yesterday, Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernandez, along with Cervecería Hondureña president, Paola Bondy, the mayor of San Pedro Sula, Armando Calidonio and maquila and private sector representatives witnessed setting the first block of this new plant.

This is the largest investment made in production capacity in the history of the Brewery and will allow the creation of a thousand direct and indirect jobs.

With the expansion of the plant, Cervecería Hondureña will be able to almost double production to bring it to 2.6 million hectoliters by 2020. “Cervecería Hondureña is a company that believes and invests in our country and in our people”, said Paola Bondy, president of the Honduran Brewery. “We dream to unite people for a better world, we dream of a Honduras that grows, that prospers, that generates wealth for our families,” she said.

She highlighted the company’s responsibility over its 102-year history, during which time the founders’ vision of generating growth, wealth and prosperity for Honduras remained intact.

NEW INVESTMENT

200 direct and 800 indirect jobs will be created. Every day they serve 25,000 retailers out of the 75,000 in the country.

Today we re-write a more successful story and we do it in a great moment for our country. We are an industry in constant and dynamic evolution, with brands and presentations elaborated with the sole purpose of attending to a consumer who knows, distinguishes and demands,” she said.

Bondy emphasized the inescapable commitment to produce a quality beer that should be consumed in moderation.

“This has been our permanent commitment to Honduras: to encourage moderate consumption and to educate our consumers to enjoy a refreshing and social drink,” she confirmed.

The agreement for this investment was signed last June between President Hernandez and the company’s president, in the city of Miami, Florida, during meetings prior to the North Triangle Summit for Prosperity and Security.

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The new investment was made thanks to the promotion carried out through the National Program for Economic Development Honduras 20/20.

RESULTS

President Juan Orlando Hernandez said that seeing Cervecería Hondureña committing itself to such an investment is motivating and a sign that Honduras is changing.

TRAJECTORY
Cervecería Hondureña, founded in 1915, has more than a century of operations, representing in 2016 more than 3% of national GDP.

“We must sustain that growth and be solid in time, only then we will achieve our country´s true transformation.” she explained.

Hernández thanked Cervecería Hondureña and AB Inbev conglomerate for taking advantage of this great business climate Honduras is offering thanks to Honduras 2020 Program.

“This country will no longer be stopped by anyone, only God. We have surpassed a dificult abyss and He has been generous with us. That is why we have to continue this great effort in understanding that the Government will only be a facilitation entity, always remembering that the employment generation created by the private sector, can´t be substituted”, he assured.

He emphasized that this was the thriving and dynamic San Pedro Sula he wanted to see. A city that is once again the industrial capital of the country, “flourishing industries are synonym of development, prosperity and wealth for Honduras.”

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The Nearshore English Evolution: Honduras Uses Language as BPO Growth Catalyst

Coming off the back of major investments into “smart cities” and fresh operations for global BPO players, Honduras has been in an ideal position to  make bilingualism the centerpiece of its global investment attraction pitch.

The government is betting on making English accessible for everyone in the country, so it has started working with INFOP (the National Institute of Vocational Training) on a program called “Yes We Can” in late 2014. In partnership with English Discoveries, they brought e-learning to all INFOP centers in the country, allowing anyone to take an English class for free, onsite or online. So far, this program has graduated around 500 people at B1+ English level.

Francisco Novellino
Francisco Novellino, BPO/ITO Manager at Honduras 2020

“Even so, most public schools in Honduras are not yet teaching English, which is something that we really need to work on to make it more inclusive,” said Francisco Novellino, BPO/ITO Manager at Honduras 2020, an alliance between the public and private sectors that focuses on employment generation and economic growth.

“In Honduras, families have had a true focus on a bilingual education for a couple of generations and see value in continuing to invest in learning English,” says Ryan Bartholomew, Operations Director at Startek Honduras. He stresses the importance of improved accessibility to English for rural and lower income families as the BPO industry continues to grow.

“If you consider that public schools in Honduras are graduating 62,000 people per year, there is a lot of talent that can benefit from free English programs like Yes We Can,” continued Novellino. “Furthermore, at the mid-education or high school level, around 300 schools are providing English courses, so people from 15-18 years are well-involved in American culture and the English language.”

English Statistics & Industry Focus

Outside of public schools, there are around 785 bilingual schools in Honduras that focus on the English language. According to Novellino, there were approximately 7,500 graduates from these schools in 2015.

The country has two main cities, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula: the latter is more developed in BPO because of the Altia Smart City, but that organization is looking to develop another in Tegucigalpa by the end of 2018, following numerous delays.

There is a strong focus coming from the entire industry to develop English capabilities in Honduras. Companies like Alorica, Convergys, and Startek, for example, are all trying to implement finishing schools to have a constant pipeline of talent coming into the call centers.

The Honduran government has also started providing grants to train call center agents. This 18-month program targets low-income families that want to get a fair start in the industry, and teaches them how to manage contact center tools and develop the right soft skills, as well as helping them understand the responsibilities involved and getting them up to speed with English. Applicants generally start at the A1 level and leave the program with a B1 level.

On the Ground

While visiting the call centers in San Pedro Sula, Novellino has found a very high level of English. “The accent is not neutral, but is very American,” he said. “If you walk around the Altia Smart City, most people are speaking English all the time, so it’s like visiting the States. You also don’t hear much English slang in Honduras, as the focus is very professional. Oddly enough, the development of the English culture has been helped along by a couple of supermarket chains in both cities that have lots of produce from the United States,” said Novellino.

Ryan Bartholomew
Ryan Bartholomew of Startek Honduras

In comparing the English capabilities in both Costa Rica and Guatemala, Bartholomew has also found that resources, like public television stations and shopping outlets, have provided an opportunity to be immersed in the English language socially.

“Those Hondurans that have excelled in English have had to be more resourceful in finding ways to practice the language,” he said. “At Startek, we’ve been able to grow sizeable accounts in both San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa with English speakers at a level of 80% and higher.”

Ultimately, if Honduras can continue to stretch its focus on the English language at the early levels of education, as well as promote inclusiveness nationwide, the country is destined to show that its success in BPO was no mistake.