You might have noticed that Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has been some kind of a running theme here on Techzim lately. BPO is just a fancy term meaning getting to do jobs for companies without being part of their internal team. Most times this term is used in reference to cross border outsourcing of jobs.
That this is a running theme is motivated by the fact that from the beginning of January we have been getting a lot of calls from the American and European, businesses of all sorts asking about the availability of developers to send projects to. We will be sharing some of these opportunities here; in fact we already shared one such opportunity already.
Why Are North American And European Businesses Outsourcing?
The first reason why there are jobs coming from these places is that there is actually a global shortage of developers right now. One estimate says North America alone is gonna need to outsource jobs to 1.8 million developers around the world just to meet their needs.
Related to the above, there is the obvious fact that the world is going towards a reality where everything is connected to the internet. IoT and the shared economy are going to keep transforming how we interact with physical objects and all else we can think of. This introduces a big demand for techies who will build all this infrastructure and maintain it.
The other reason why developed countries will be looking to Africa and Asia for developers is that it’s expensive to hire this kind of talent in their countries. What we consider to be big bucks in this part of the world is a fraction of what maybe an entry level developer will cost them. The developed economies are very competitive markets hence any kind of cost reduction goes a long way in determining who stays in the business boxing ring and who gets knocked out as competition forces revenues downwards for all players.
This is especially the case with small businesses in Europe and North America. They sometimes have to compete with giants like Google and Microsoft or whoever else. These giants have resources to drown out the little guy before little guy can prove that they actually have a better value proposition for their customer segment. Little guy then innovates by sending developer jobs to Africa just to cut costs and stay in the ring long enough to prove their salt to their customers.
Outsourcing to Africa and Asia is also strategic for companies like Facebook that have a global footprint. The realities of the markets in which these businesses were first launched and are headquartered are very different from realities here in the developing world. A good example of this is that access to the internet is several magnitudes more expensive here than it is in the West when you consider income levels. The quality of that connectivity is also usually poorer.
This difference in cost and quality of access to the internet made the Facebook app almost a no no for Zimbabweans. Thank goodness Facebook then introduced Facebook Lite which uses less data. Solutions for market specific problems are best built by individuals who live in those markets because they have context and they understand the nuances of the problem to be solved. A lot of these big businesses are hence outsourcing to our side of the world just so they can more effectively solve problems for these markets and extend their global foothold.
First, for Europe Zimbabwe is just one or two hours ahead on the world clock. This makes collaboration easy because we share almost similar business hours.
For the English speaking countries, Zimbabwe speaks English, decent English at that hence communication is not a big problem. Some UK people also say they don’t struggle understanding the Zimbabwean accent as they do with the Indian accent or other African accents when speaking English. I guess kunoza kuya kwakubatsira.
Generally I am considered a mercenary against our education system but ironically one of the advantages Zimbabwe has is it’s education. Not really the technical education (coding primarily), we are not doing too well there. Our broad basic education makes it easier for us to learn other skills if we so wish and this is where we have the advantage. We also churn out graduates in droves and a good number of them don’t have employment when they exit school.
The changing political climate is also helping much. I know I have showed skepticism on just the mere proclamation that Zimbabwe is open for business. However, the changed stance of the Zimbabwean government has raised a lot of interest and attention towards us. We will be sharing more about some of the stuff we are observing.
We already introduced you to Secret Source, a company based in Spain that is recruiting a General Manager for Zimbabwe so they can open an office to recruit developers to work on projects with their teams in Spain and the UK for UK clients.
There is another UK company we have been talking to and they are interested in outsourcing jobs to Zim developers too. I asked them to tell me why they were casting their eye on Zimbabwe and I will let their response be the last thing in this article:
As an award-winning, fast-growing technology company here in the UK our biggest challenge is getting a hold of the right technical talent at the right time. Appreciating that we live in an expanding global world, we started playing with the idea of extending our UK development team by recruiting foreign-based developers, we took the plunge in early 2017 and employed a top quality Zimbabwean developer based in South Africa.
Almost 12 months in, this developer has not only blended well with the UK team but has brought a wealth of knowledge to the table in an extremely short amount of time. Off the back of this positive experience, the recent changes in the political climate, affordable access to broadband internet across the country and the fact that the majority of the population can speak good fluent English we have decided to look a lot closer at Zimbabwean developers. In the next few months, we are looking to set up a local office to further expand our distributed team.
PS: Watch our Jobs section and our article feed for these opportunities. We will be announcing them as we come across them. All the best to all of us…