If most Americans or Europeans tourists were asked to point out the capital of Honduras on a map, or even name it, few would be successful. But for Nearshore stakeholders, Tegucigalpa is steadily becoming a tried-and-tested location for reliable BPO and call center offerings, while tech enterprises are also expanding. Now known for surety in service, the Honduran capital still hasn’t always had it easy.
“Not a lot of clients I took to Tegucigalpa were aware of the opportunities available in the country, and some were concerned about safety and security” said Jonathan Ellsworth formerly vice president of business development, solution architect and inside sales at Knoah Solutions (now 24-7 Intouch) and who worked in the city between 2015 and 2020.
When Ellsworth first arrived, Tegucigalpa’s capacity was “limited”. But by the time he left, the change was clear.
“There was a clear maturity that could be seen through aspects like the telecommunications structure that increased and had greater capabilities,” he said.
“By 2020, the government’s commitment was much greater. It was much more engaged in helping corporations bring in business. There were initiatives like state-led organization Honduras 2020, which was created specifically to bring in more business to Tegucigalpa and the country as a whole, particularly from outsourcing.”
US Vice President Kamala Harris headed to the Honduran capital for January’s inaguaration of the country’s first female president, Xiomara Castro, who ran on an anti-corruption platform. Harris’ trip was viewed largely as a US effort to stymie the flow of migrants from the Northern Triangle to its border, but it also signalled the willingness of the world’s major economic power to broaden its cooperation with Honduras. This comes amid the extradition to the US of former president, Juan Orlando Hernandez. For many, it felt like a fresh start.
“It’s a great sign to grow closer to the US, which is Honduras’ main economic partner. The Honduran economy grew 8.2% annually, and the capital plays a huge role in that. These are great signs for the future,” said Manrique Blen, Central America director for Auxadi.
Manrique lauds the strong bilingual abilities he has seen from Tegucigalpa’s talent pool. Despite the city having a population of just 1.2 million population, bilingual, job-ready professionals have been easy to come by in his experience.
Jorge Garcia, CTO and founder of tech firm Hello Iconic, a native of the capital but now living in Los Angeles, points to the quality of the country’s education system as the reason that Honduras, and especially Tegucigalpa, makes up 80% of the Hello Iconic team.
“Honduras has a really strong education, particularly for engineering. All the major universities started or are based in Tegucigalpa,” he said.
Those universities include National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), generally regarded as the country’s best, as well as the Central American Technology University (UNITEC), the Catholic University of Honduras (UNICAH) and Technology University of Honduras (UTH), among others. All of these institutions, though particularly UNITEC, have made efforts to connect to the private sphere.
“Lots of people from the interior of the country are drawn towards Tegucigalpa, so the best talent is available there,” Garcia added.
Pricing on Point
A large part of the push Tegucigalpa has made into the BPO and call center industry has come out of ALTIA Smart City, a business park that constructed its first location in Honduras’ second city, San Pedro Sula, before opening in the capital. With locations in both major cities, clients could reap the benefits of links to each labor pool.
“Honduras has a very unique position in Central America. We’re one of the few countries in the region that has two cities with almost equal labor pools. So it was a natural move to also open in Tegucigalpa” explained Kathia Yacaman, corporate marketing and commercial manager at ALTIA Smart City.
Next month the park will kick off construction of its second tower, which will double capacity at the park by adding an additional 2,800 seats.
With the capital city producing around 5,000 bilingual graduates each year, there is plenty of talent for interested parties. Other beneficial statuses that were set up for the benefit of manufacturing companies have been extended to BPOs and exempt them from certain sales taxes.
Additionally, salaries in Tegucigalpa’s BPO and call center industries remain attractive for international companies. Though the level of responsibility and experience an employee offers will make a difference to the salary they are paid, these are the competitive salary ranges for specific positions, according to ALTIA Smart City:
- QA Specialist: US$800 – US$1000 per month
- Team Leads: US$650 – US$800 per month
- Supervisors: US$900 – US$1200 per month
- Operations Manager (customer service oriented): US$2800 – US$4500 per month
- Team Manager US$3500 – US$4200 per month
- Site Director: US $5200- US$5500 per month
In the eyes of Ellsworth, Tegucigalpa comes out on top against any cities in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, two comparable country markets.
There are a few points that could be improved upon to generate additional interest in the capital, said Blen.
Firstly, a national effort is needed to digitize processes. Currently, it takes 42 days to set up a company in Honduras, which he believes is due to the paper-focused nature of bureaucratic processes. “There’s no electronic invoicing. There needs to be a migration to digital infrastructure,” he said.
Second, is image.
“In the minds of many international companies, Honduras is still a manufacturing country. People don’t necessarily feel that the country has the capability to deliver high-level services, which it does. Tegucigalpa needs to be positioned better as a hub to bring in further investment,” he added.
Feature image credit: ALTIA Smart City