While massive oil and gas discoveries in Guyana have brought significant international attention, business process outsourcing (BPO) is another sector receiving foreign investor interest. In July 2021, Itel acquired local provider Emerge BPO and its 84,000 square foot building in the heart of Guyana’s capital Georgetown. 

The Montego Bay, Jamaica-based company is set to invest a further $4m in its facility and hire up to 500 people in the country. Itel’s CEO Yoni Epstein explains the reasoning behind the decision and what makes Guyana an attractive place for BPO.


Q: Why did Itel decide to acquire Emerge BPO in July 2021?

A: We had our eyes set on Guyana, but it would have been greenfield to us. So, we wanted to acquire something that was already established that would make entry somewhat easier than starting from scratch. This way we gained the local management and support that would be somewhat difficult to get immediately if we had gone in via a purely greenfield project.

Q: Itel announced in August 2022 that it plans to invest $4m and employ up to 500 people in Guyana. What makes you so bullish about the Guyanese market?

A: While a small market, Guyana is interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, it is English-speaking and built on the British system, like the rest of the Caribbean. Secondly, it has a large diaspora in North America, similar to Jamaica, and is both nearshore and outside of the Hurricane belt.

From a cost perspective, it competes with pricing in the Philippines — another major centre for BPO — but in a nearshore environment. The English-speaking talent pool was there and had a decent track record. 

We are bullish and wanted to be a first mover into the space, so we could get a foothold as others looked at coming in. We have made a $5m investment into our facility there to bring it up to the rest of the Itel facilities around the region. We are banking on Guyana and have been happy thus far.


Q: What is your assessment of the investment climate in Guyana? 

A: The Guyanese government has been an amazing support to us and have facilitated where possible to make it an easy transition. While the oil and gas sector is their “500 pound Gorilla” — which dominates attention due to its size — the government is very supportive of diversifying the economy and providing opportunities for all Guyanese in the job market.  

If you are not in Guyana today, or planning to be there in the short term, you will miss the boat on this gem that is being developed.