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Wednesday June 21, 2017

A property management and research firm named Cebu still as the “most practical choice” for knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) firms looking for viable locations outside Manila. “We see more Metro Manila-based KPO firms establishing operations in Cebu given the need to have a redundant site that would back up their Metro Manila operations. The influx of KPO firms has propped up office space demand within the Cebu Business Park and Cebu I.T. Park,” said a Colliers International Philippines report released on Tuesday. High-value services KPO are generally higher value outsourcing services that include health information management, software engineering, finance and accounting. Over the years, Colliers said the share of KPO employees in Cebu’s outsourcing workforce has grown from 10 percent in 2008 to nearly 30 percent in 2015. Colliers cited the ample supply of skilled college graduates where 35 percent of the 30,000 graduates yearly from Cebu colleges and universities have a degree in engineering, IT and math, or medical-related degrees. Rapid ubanization The high level of urbanization driven by the development of several townships and public infrastructure projects has also helped position Cebu as a top KPO destination. To date, top KPO firms in Cebu include Accenture, which employs 5,000 workers. The company said it will hire at least 1,000 more employees that can handle SAP, Java, and analytic programming, among others. Another successful KPO firm in Cebu is the Vietnam IT company FPT Software, which has 62 software engineers. It targets to employ about 2,000 people by 2020. “FPT Software officials said that establishing operations in Cebu is an integral part of the company’s Asean expansion strategy,” said Colliers. Aside from IT-related job, medical graduates like nurses and pharmacists also find job opportunities in Cebu with health information management (HIM) firms setting up operations like Medcor and United Health Group, among others. Collier also noted that the public sector is also important in boosting Cebu’s image as a major KPO hub. KPO perks From 2017 to 2019, an anticipated 300,000 square meters of office spaces are expected to go online in Cebu. As a recommendation, Colliers noted that Cebu’s academe must collaborate with local ICT councils in calibrating their academic programs to fit KPO requirement. It also encouraged the local government to grant additional incentives to KPO companies that will provide free training to college students and graduates. (SUN STAR CEBU)

Philippine Volcanoes search for talent

Monday June 19, 2017

Rugby isn’t a mainstream sport here in the Philippines unlike basketball, volleyball, and football. It needs all the exposure it can get to spread the popularity of the sport. Last Sunday, mall-goers got a quick look at the sport of rugby after the Philippine Volcanoes and Globe worked hand-in-hand to put up a free clinic for kids, the Globe Volcanoes Junior Rugby Clinic, at the Active Zone in Ayala Center Cebu. “The No. 1 purpose is to promote the Philippine Volcanoes. It is also to promote rugby as a sport and to search for grassroots players,” said organizer and Cebu Lady Dragons manager Maggie Royo. The Philippine Volcanoes is the national team for rugby. The kids underwent beginners’ basic rugby drills from rugby players headed by Cebuana Lady Volcanoes Marie Antonette Gambito and Hayes Monica Bolofer. The two women’s national team members were assisted by Boys Under-19 development team players Glenn Regner, Khrislord Balbuena, Edison Ablanque and Martin Ablanque; and Boys Under-17 national team players Francis Pasayloon and Kimwell Dela Cruz. New “This is the first time that I have handled a clinic inside a mall. We usually have it in schools and in schools there are always kids. Here, we didn’t know what to expect, if there were kids who will show up. We didn’t expect that a lot stayed and joined the rugby clinic,” said Royo. It was a different experience for Royo and his team because aside from holding the clinic inside the mall, they also had to work with a small area. However, Royo, who usually holds rugby clinics in schools, wants to host another clinic inside the mall. “I want to do this again,” said Royo. Gambito and Bolofer will join the rest of the Lady Volcanoes to compete in the Southeast Asian Games on Aug. 19 and 20 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (SUN STAR CEBU)

An ecozone benchmark

Sunday June 11, 2017

Cebu Business Park As one of the most successful economic zones on the island of Cebu, the Cebu Business Park (CBP) in uptown Cebu City is seen as a good benchmark for other cities and towns in the province eyeing to set up their own hubs for development. Roy Soledad, head of the Cebu Investment Promotions Office (CIPO), said the growth of the CBP can be a source of lessons for local government units in the province. “It is very good to replicate it in other areas of the province, provided that the facilitating environment could happen – road networks, communication, and access to investors (should be addressed),” he told Cebu Daily News. It was in the late 1980s, under the term of former governor Emilio Mario “Lito” Osmeña, when the provincial government sold its 45-hectare property, then used as the Club Filipino Golf Course, to the Ayala Corp. The development features for the park was incorporated into the 1990 zoning ordinance of Cebu City while development work on the property was completed in 1992. Owned and developed by Cebu Holdings, Inc. (CHI), an affiliate of Ayala Land, Inc., the CBP currently hosts around 150 companies ranging from business process outsourcing to industry-related firms, as well as various local and foreign banking institutions. According to a project brief for the development, the park integrates business, high-rise residential, shopping, and sports and recreational facilities, offering a comprehensive range of support services including a mall, sports and recreation centers, convention facilities, and other special interest and attraction establishments. Bring in investors Presidential Proclamation 2053, issued on May 4, 2010, officially designated the CBP as an IT Park upon the recommendation of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). With this, investors and locators in PEZA-accredited IT Parks will be entitled to certain fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to encourage the entry of investments. “The CBP opened the doors for Cebu to bring in investors, both domestic and foreign. We hope that this can be replicated in other economic zones identified by local governments and even the provincial government,” Soledad said. At present, the CBP is the largest operating PEZA-accredited IT park in the country. Blueprint Soledad said there is already a blueprint of how the developers of CBP did it, which he said can be used once local governments start master planning for their own economic zones. He said this will be reflected in the Provincial Development and Physical Framework Plan (PDPFP), which he hopes his department and the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) can finalize by the end of June this year. Planners of the proposed economic zones in Minglanilla in the south and Bogo City in the north can take hints from the CBP, Soledad added. Both Minglanilla and Bogo City are planning to develop 100 hectares of land in their respective localities into economic zones. The PPDO has identified 17 potential ecozones across the province based on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of each of the local governments hosting these sites. Access, centerpiece Strategically located in uptown Cebu City, the CBP can be accessed from all points through major thoroughfares. Within the park are major hotels, condominiums, and restaurants. The park’s centerpiece, Ayala Center Cebu, is home to 500 lifestyle and leisure outlets, generating high foot traffic every week, as well as boasts high-quality infrastructure. Latitude project These were the advantages considered by the park’s growing number of investors, among which is the joint venture between Cebu Landmasters, Inc. (CLI) and Borromeo Bros. Estate, Inc., which broke ground for its Latitude Corporate Center along Mindanao Avenue on Friday. The Latitude project, which will rise on a 3,000-square meter property within the CBP, is a Grade A office building offering future-ready spaces for businesses of all sizes such as BPOs at 2,000 square meters, 151 to 320-sq. m. for enterprise and 51 to 105-sq. m. for executive. Strategically located beside the Pag-IBIG Corporate Center, company executives earlier said the project was expected generate more foot traffic and enliven the “night life” in the area similar to the Cebu IT Park where CLI also has projects. The 24-storey project was primed to be the tallest building within the business park. “We also aim to be the best managed and best maintained building and for it to appreciate in value the most,” said Jose Franco Soberano, CLI chief operating officer, during the groundbreaking ceremony. This was CLI’s first groundbreaking ceremony after it debuted on the stock exchange with a P3.8-billion initial public offering earlier this month. Green building Latitude will feature an eco-friendly design and will be registered with the Berde green building rating system. Eighty percent of the building’s 83 units will be put up for leasing, while 20 percent will be for sale, many of which have been sold already. The COO said they expect to begin construction “as soon as possible, top off the project in 18 months, and make full delivery in 30 months. He said that this early, they have received many inquiries regarding the spaces for lease. CLI president and chief executive officer Jose Soberano III, meanwhile, said they hope to expand the company’s sources of recurring income through projects such as Latitude. Soberano said leasing currently stands at less than five percent in their portfolio. Build, build, build “Even with the things happening in the country, we are still positive, especially under the ‘build, build, build’ scheme of the current administration. Developers are looking at the Visayas and Mindanao areas,” he said. The homegrown company, established in 2003, has seen tremendous growth in the last couple of years, clocking a compounded annual growth rate of 150 percent in net income over the last five years. In the last three years, the company has grown on an average of 30 to 40 percent. CLI currently has more than 20 existing and ongoing projects in Cebu City as well as in the Visayas and Mindanao, including condominiums, subdivisions, offices, and hotels. (CEBU DAILY NEWS)

Dover opens office in Cebu

Friday June 9, 2017

The shared service unit of global manufacturer Dover has set its foot to Cebu infusing an initial investment of approximately $1 million. The company also formally laucnhed its 56-man facility at Cebu I.T Park in Cebu City last Wednesday. Initially eyeing Manila for its Philippine operations, Dover Business Services (DBS) president Garry Kennon said it chose Cebu because of its strategic location coupled by the readily available talent pool. “Cebu has an established, talented workforce that has experience with the specific functions DBS will execute, and an established pro-business infrastructure to support Dover’s current strategies and future growth in the region,” said Kennon. Support DBS in the Philippines, with office at the TGU tower in Cebu IT Park, will support Dover’s operating companies through the processing of select financial and transactional processes and provides human resource and IT support. As a diversified global manufacturer, Dover produces components, and digital solutions ranging from engineered systems, fluids, and refrigeration and food equipment. “Our vision for DBS service centers is around-the-clock seamless expertise and service. Cebu is key to building our knowledge-based and customer experience model,” added Kennon. Global operations DBS shared service centers operate across the globe in three locations in North America (Cincinnati, Ohio), Scotland, and China (Suzhou). Each center provides customer service around finance, IT infrastructure, and human resource. “We’re here for the long-term (in Cebu) and we will add more people and services,” said Kennon, without disclosing the number of jobs to add in the coming years. (SUN STAR CEBU)

Why a BPO firm chooses to invest in rural areas

Wednesday June 7, 2017

SIX COUNTRYSIDE CENTERS EYED A homegrown business process outsourcing (BPO) company is expanding its operations in countryside locations, citing direct access to local talents, high retention rate and strong local government support as the main reasons for growth and development. Michael Cubos, managing director of Performance 360 Global Services Inc., said they opened the Davao Center in 2013 and the Cordova Cebu Center in 2015. Before the end of 2017, the company will be operating in six locations, namely, Butuan, Mandaue, Liloan (Cebu), Surigao, Bogo (Cebu) and Zamboanga. The company is also examining opening centers in the southern Cebu towns of Argao and Barili. “Establishing your centers in rural areas is now possible. Before, it was unthinkable,” said Cubos, who first started his BPO venture in 2010 in an internet café with P10,000 as capital after working as a telemarketer and call center agent in various companies. The IT Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) roadmap noted $249 billion in revenues in 2022. The same roadmap projected 1.2 million jobs generated in 2017 and $24.5 billion in revenues in 2017. “There is so much opportunities in this business but only very few (local players) enter the industry. Most of the revenues are not here in the Philippines,” said Cubos. Local talents Cubos said investing in the countryside means direct access to local talents, who prefer to work near their homes. He said 70 to 80% of the BPO workers in Cebu I.T. Park come from the provinces and neighboring towns and cities, who are easily burned out because of the nature of their jobs. “I have a center in Cordova whose agents are the same quality and skills as the ones working in I.T. Park. They trade higher pay of P20,000 to work close to home at P10,000,” he said. With the current traffic situation faced by most urban centers like Cebu, Cubos said employees would prefer working in companies which are five to 10 minutes from their homes. “This way they get to spend more time with their loved ones. This has resulted to low attrition, high retention rate,” he said. From a business perspective, Cubos said it makes sense to invest in countryside locations as the average cost per agent is only $1.5 per hour. Agents in I.T. Park and similar locations are paid between $5 to $7 per hour. Community impact Establishing operations in the rural areas also contributes in uplifting of the quality of life of the community as it promotes talent development, job creation and countryside improvement. Cubos said the company offers free eight-hour training for locals who are then issued a certification that they can use in applying for jobs. He said they produce 50 graduates every month in which 80% apply in their company. “Our graduates are not obliged to apply in our company after their training. We are training everyone to be employable in the industry as part of our corporate social responsibility,” he said. Cubos said setting up a BPO business has a multiplier effect in which for every agent hired, “you are indirectly providing jobs for three people.” “It gives birth to carinderia, bakery and tricycle drivers. It helps community fast track development,” he said. Growth Current technologies such as cloud storage and the internet make it possible for local players to set up BPO businesses. Cubos, who spoke before participants of the Digital Innovation Summit over the weekend, said they target 150 community BPO centers nationwide with 10,000 agents in 2022. But he warned prospective entrepreneurs that starting a BPO company is capital intensive and involves several risks. Three months after he started operations in 2010, Cubos said a client did not pay the company P300,000, depleting his savings to pay his employees. “Sail in favorable weather. There is going to be a lot of leaks. You need to learn how to patch them up so you can go where you want to go,” said Cubos. (CEBU DAILY NEWS)

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