US$5M call centre for March start By Andrew Richards
Stabroek News
February 4, 2002

Guyana will experience an information technology boost this year with the provision of training to hundreds of Guyanese by Caribbean-based Ask4Solutions which is setting up an international contact centre in Berbice.

Ask4Solutions is to put together the US$5 million establishment-to be named CC3 (Guyana) Ltd-at Sheet Anchor, Canje before the end of the year.

The centre would initially employ 400 workers and is expected to enter into an agreement with the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company (GT&T) to access international links to service its markets primarily in the Caribbean, United States and Europe.

"We want to build a state-of-the-art facility. There is nothing else like this in Guyana. There is nothing else like this in the Caribbean. This will be a showcase for Guyana and the Caribbean," President of Ask4Solutions, Kevin Ashley, told Stabroek News in an interview on Friday.

Ask4Solutions is a group of companies experienced in telecommunications, information technology, financial services, and fast moving computer goods.

Ashley said the group saw the investment as selling Guyana as well as selling its services to the world. The group has set September as the start-up date for the centre.

Tenders for the construction would be out for local companies by next week so that work could start by March at the latest.

The contact centre deals with telecommunication sales and telecommunication marketing, among other services.

As an example, Ashley explained that if their client is a credit card company, CC3 would inform its customers of the services it has to offer.

He added that if a customer dials a 1-800 number for the credit card company, CC3 would answer on the company's behalf and provide information on the type of services available.

CC3 would also offer internet services and handle e-mails on its clients' behalf.

Diagnosis of problems affecting personal computers (PC) would also be provided by CC3, as well as solutions via the internet and a chat room facility.

If a client did not have access to the internet then the problem could be solved by contacting CC3 directly by telephone.

CC3 would also be providing data processing services and training for the 400-odd personnel required to run the contact centre.

Ashley said CC3 would be employing about 400 persons in the first 18 months but planned to expand the work force to possibly 1,000 as the operations progressed.

"We're going to invest a lot to get the skills that we actually require. We believe Guyana has a good work ethic and that the people here would want to work," Ashley stated.

He said CC3 would be offering training for operating a PC, service requirements, and training in sales and management.

The group has its own training company which already has a programme in place and planned to work with local companies to deliver training, he added.

Ashley disclosed that meetings were ongoing with GT&T to work out a deal where the utility company would provide CC3 with international links.

"What we need from GT&T are international links so that when our operators are on the phone they could talk to people in the US and Europe," he stated.

He said the reason for choosing the Berbice site was because it was close to the Americas II cable which links up with Guyana via Suriname.

The project would be financed jointly by the group, banks in the Caribbean and local investors. Ashley was appreciative of the manner in which the government has dealt with the group's proposal to establish the contact centre.

"We've talked to a lot of governments around the Caribbean about the investment and this has been the best one. The government has been very supportive, without its support this would not work," he stated. He said the group has made a long-term commitment to government to contribute to improving health care and education in Guyana.

"This is something we believe very strongly in-giving back to the community. We see ourselves being here for a very long time. We want to build up a sound business in Guyana."

Ask4Solutions is a group of companies operating in the Caribbean with offices in St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Miami, USA.

The main company in the group is Ask4Solutions Consultancy which advises companies on how to design and re-engineer their businesses and customer relations management.

It also advises telecommunication companies on how to improve their market penetration to expand their customer base.

The third company is called People's Solutions which deals with market and distribution. The group is also working to set up a contact centre in St Lucia.