SMEs central to SA’s BPO growth strategy

A black-owned Cape Town-based business process outsourcing (BPO) provider is looking to more than double the size of its business over the next two years after signing an enterprise development agreement with established South African BPO provider, Aegis.

SA Commercial is looking to build business by linking to Aegis South Africa. (Image: Flickr/

SA Commercial, which has been operating largely in the financial services sector for the past five years, is already an SME business success story in its own right, having weathered tight economic conditions in the past five years which have seen many SME BPO companies and contact centres close their doors.

The agreement will see SA Commercial partner closely with Aegis to share best practices, marketing leads and business development, and managing director Renee Keeble believes the partnership will help grow her business into a solid medium-sized player in the local BPO industry.

“We currently have 120 contact centre seats at our premises in the Cape Town city centre, but believe we can grow this to more than 300 over the next couple of years as we work closely with Aegis to grow our local and international footprint,” said Ms Keeble.

Aegis country manager Kobus van der Westhuizen says the partnership with SA Commercial not only meets the company’s desire to create jobs in the local BPO sector, but will help to expand the local industry at a time when more overseas companies than ever are looking to South Africa as a BPO destination.

Aegis SA, the local subsidiary of global outsourcing giant Aegis Limited, employs more than 2 000 people in South Africa as part of a global workforce of 60 000.

“Aegis SA is a real foreign investment success story,” said Van der Westhuizen. “Aegis is not only investing in rands and dollars, but also time and knowledge into the local operation as part of its commitment to creating 5000 new jobs in the sector, and that investment is paying off in spectacular fashion. Our partnership with SA Commercial will become a vibrant part of this revitalisation of the entire industry.”

Kobus van der Westhuizen, Senior Vice President & Country Head, Aegis Outsourcing SA. (Image: Aegis)

Van der Westhuizen says South Africa ‘has a golden opportunity’ to establish itself as a sustainable offshore destination. He believes the UK market alone will generate potential business of more than a billion pounds in the next five years, and the local industry is ‘ideally placed’ to take a large slice of that.

SA Commercial’s Keeble says her company’s ability to deliver personalised service and operational excellence will stand it in good stead as it embarks on its growth path with Aegis. “We’re one of only three BPO operations to have achieved the ISO 9001 certification, which talks strongly to the sound processes and standards we already have in place within the business. We have a great platform to grow from here.”

Van der Westhuizen says there’s no ignoring the growing role SMEs are playing in South Africa’s economy. According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), small businesses represent 98% of the total number of firms and employ 55% of the country’s labour force, contributing approximately 24% of the total wage-bill. Small firms account for 35% of GDP overall (SEAF 2009).

“Our partnership with SA Commercial is all about growing local SME’s and meeting key needs like skills development and job creation,” he said. “This is what real empowerment is all about.”

Staff Writer