Small and medium-sized businesses look towards Egypt
India and China are not the only destinations around when it comes to building and growing an outsourcing industry. The Middle East is seen to be taking active steps to invest in a promising future for the outsourcing industry, particularly with reference to the Middle Eastern, African and European market. Keen to build partnerships with UK-based businesses, destinations are now targeting small and medium sized businesses to help them recognise the value outsourcing can bring to their organisation. Egypt, in particular, is strengthening its reputation as a leading outsourcing destination and a key global hub for businesses.
High development rates within the Middle East now signify the ability to compete against the likes of India as a serious outsourcing destination. Egypt’s competitive edge has seen it emerge as the jewel of the Middle East’s outsourcing crown predominantly due to its strong infrastructure and cost effective packages on offer. The industry can now be seen to be taking further action to develop the industry such as tax breaks and financial incentives to attract international companies. Egypt offers a rich pool of young talent, with 330,000 graduates supporting a credible play across multiple European languages.
Egypt is eager to target the SME market and highlight the value outsourcing can add to a business, particularly through offshoring. With such radical technological development it can often be difficult for a small business to stay on top of trends, whilst outsourcing the work offers businesses access to a high-quality telecommunications infrastructure as well as a access to fresh graduates. With this in mind, Egypt has identified SMEs’ ability to move towards industrialised services with little disruption compared to larger enterprises.
Egypt has proved a resilient outsourcing market, with significant growth since the first business-to-business deal between the UK and Egypt was signed in 2001. It is evident that the information technology sector has emerged over the past few years as a new source of pride for Egypt with mobile phone penetration standing at more than 75 percent and broadband subscriptions growing at about 25 percent annually.
This growth shows little sign of slowing down, as Ovum recently predicted Egypt’s call centre market to have doubled in size by 2015. SMEs are able to take advantage of Egypt’s geographical positioning as a gateway towards the Arab world combined with strong links to Africa and the Middle East as well as still being placed within a similar time zone to Europe, making it easy to sync operations.
Whilst an active effort is being made to adopt a Western-culture style of business it is of course important for business to bear in mind that potential cultural differences may arise, because Egypt has its own culture and that is just one of the many positive things that makes it unique.
Many businesses have previously been turned away from Egypt due to concerns over personal, property and data security. End-users considering sending potential sensitive work especially in the BPO area to Egypt will need reassurance that enough is being done to protect data and help break away from some of the more traditional Western perceptions.
However, it’s very good to see that Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, continues on its long term journey to enhance its global competitiveness in the outsourcing space.