US-based Filipinos tapped to market IT outsourcing

Von Lawrence Casiraya

A group of businessmen in the Philippines is funding an initiative that aims to tap some three million Filipinos in the U.S. to market the Philippines as a primary destination for outsourced IT-enabled services.

The Philippine Small and Medium Enterprises Development Foundation (PhilSMED), a non-profit organization that caters to the local SME sector, is spearheading efforts to develop a marketing plan for this project whose end-goal is to widen business opportunities for smaller businesses.

PhilSMED was founded by Mina Gabor, former tourism secretary and the organizer and first head of the Department of Trade and Industry"s external trade promotion agency, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM).

George Kintanar, information and communications technology advisor for PhilSMED, noted that a group of private businessmen is funding the establishment of a local holding company.

"This holding company will initially hire the services of a marketing company in the US to spearhead networking activities in, at least, eight states," Kintanar disclosed in a recent interview.

He, however, declined to identify the businessmen who are joining this initiative.

This locally funded initiative plans to give monetary incentives to Filipinos based in the U.S. who refer American companies to Philippine-based service providers, resulting in actual contracts.

"Imagine if we give, say 2 percent of a $10,000 contract per successful referral," Kintanar noted. "What we want is to farm out potential deals to as many local service providers as possible."


As an initial step, this yet-to-be-named holding firm, will organize, with the assistance of its marketing partner in the US, networking sessions with the National Association of Filipino Americans (NAFA).

NAFA is an umbrella body of Filipino-American chambers of commerce from different U.S. states.

In an interview with Computerworld Philippines, Gabor said the goal is to match smaller U.S.-based outsourcers, who have the same requirements as top-tier companies, with local e-services providers.

?About 80 percent of the companies in the U.S. are categorized as SMEs,? she pointed out. ?We will go after the ones whose requirements we know we can handle.?

She noted that Latin American countries, like Chile and Puerto Rico, have been aggressive in targeting the U.S. market and in forging ties with American trading partners.

?It is important that we have somebody there who can see the profile of the market we?re going after,? Gabor said, noting the importance of having a partner in the US.

Capacity Building

PhilSMED?s main concern, at the moment, is to make sure there are enough local SMEs that can meet the expected huge demand from the U.S.

The foundation is seeking to build a portfolio of service providers in the five sectors the Philippine government has classified as priorities in line with its own e-services initiative. These five priority e-services sectors are contact centers, business process outsourcing (BPO), medical transcription, software development, and animation.

?We will start with call centers, then move on to medical and legal transcription, and, eventually, to other sectors,? Gabor said. ?We are hoping that our project will really take off starting next year.?

She disclosed that a group of U.S.-based Filipino doctors is scheduled to visit the country in January to scout for potential service providers in the area of medical transcription.?

For his part, Kintanar said: ?We would like to specifically push BPO and medical transcription. We have received a lot of interest from our local SMEs who have pointed out that most deals in these two sectors, so far, benefit only big players.?

He added that the PhilSMED initiative will also give focus on SMEs based in different regions since the government is also developing services hubs outside Metro Manila.