In this week’s episode, Derek Gallimore joined Valerie Bowden for her podcast “What I Didn’t Know About Africa.”
Valerie is the CEO and founder of CRDLE. CRDLE is a firm that connects African talent to global businesses, focusing on outsourcing staffing.
The episode explored Derek’s insights on outsourcing opportunities, especially in developing countries in the continent.
Derek’s outsourcing journey
Derek began his outsourcing journey with a hospitality business in London, where the need for 24/7 customer service posed a challenge due to costly local salaries.
Seeking alternatives, a friend suggested the Philippines. While he’s skeptical at first, Derek explored options like Upwork.
“I explored it and realized that this whole industry over [the Philippines] caters to businesses.
Not necessarily big call centers; you could have what’s referred to as staff augmentation or leasing.”
As he delved deeper, Derek realized the potential to offshore most of his workforce to the Philippines.
“Despite running effectively a hotel hospitality in central London, where there’s a lot of physical need, I moved every possible role to the Philippines,” he explained.
This included corporate bookings, HR, website and digital management, and surprisingly, even aspects of maintenance and housekeeping.
Building trust in outsourcing
Derek admitted the difficulty in cultivating trust in outsourcing, especially when collaborating with global outsourcing firms.
“It’s tough; we work with outsourcing firms from all over the world. Now we’re working with countries worldwide because they all want to get into this incredible economic engine: outsourcing or offshoring,” he shared.
Thus, Derek recognized the Philippines’ impressive reputation in the outsourcing industry.
“There’s this incredible cachet [in the Philippines], and people are fundamentally resistant, but at least they go, well [outsourcing has] been happening for 20 or 30 years.
When introducing a new country, like Nigeria, Bangladesh, or Uzbekistan, people say, “Hey, hold on, it doesn’t fit my mold. They must be scary and dangerous because I don’t know them.
So, it is hard. It’s about building that brand, that credibility, that trust, track record, and case studies for the country, and it’s challenging to accelerate.”
He added that building trust in the outsourcing industry is “hard, but it’s doable. And the way that you do it is just by doing good work and making customers happy.”
“Unfortunately, there’s no, no great hack to it.”
Improving the image of outsourcing in Africa
Derek discussed the complexity of improving the reputation of outsourcing in Africa.
The Outsource Accelerator CEO stressed the significant investment and time needed to build a credible outsourcing presence.
“You need to do all these things, build nice buildings. The short story is it doesn’t come quickly, and it doesn’t come cheap.
Because the established [country] whether it be the Philippines, India, or Vietnam, will not let go. They’re going to be competing against you.
“You need reasonable electricity. You need reasonable Internet. You need a reasonable number of good candidates who speak English or whatever language you will cater to. You need a reasonable education system that can fill the roles as people grow and mature.” the CEO added.
Regarding the outsourcing industry’s sensitivity to a country’s circumstances. Derek noted, “I believe that the core motivation is if you do us well, then we will pay you, and that’s where it ends.
It’s sort of, we’re happy to rebuild your nation, but first and foremost, you’ve got to be able to do the job well.”
The Outsource Accelerator future
Derek’s explained his vision for Outsource Accelerator in three to five years.
“We’re a marketplace for the outsourcing industry, and unlike Upwork, we don’t connect people with individual workers. We connect people with outsourcing firms.”
The CEO emphasized their goal to grow the platform, comparing it to Alibaba and Amazon.
He pointed out the opportunity for growth by making the industry more widely recognized and expanding its reach.
“I really believe that a marketplace, if done well, can significantly multiply the industry’s size. [For instance] with Alibaba and Amazon, it doesn’t just do the job. Well, it bore the industry far beyond what it could have done. I believe the big picture is in.”