Nicaragua, in 2016 saw a huge boost in exports, booming to $147 million, compared to $5.9 million in 2008, and they mostly have bilingual workers to thank for it.
One of the main drivers behind Nicaragua’s export success stories is the outsourcing of services. The industry saw a growth from 12 companies involved in 2007, to more than 40 companies currently, mainly based in Managua, the country’s capital.
Among the companies is US call center startup QC2, that has just announced their expansion plans in Bluefields, a city with just over 100,000 residents.
“We identified a very attractive talent pool, and we are ready to test the waters in Bluefields,” said Alexander Franklin, CEO of QC2, adding “Our vision is to make Bluefields the next major outsourcing destination in Central America.”
Franklin also believes in the power of collaboration, which is key when introducing a city to the industrial realm.
“Our success in Bluefields is critical for the industry. It is key for QC2 to collaborate with other outsourcing Companies in order to help them establish their operations in Bluefields as well, without having to incur the cost of infrastructure and other expenses, all while allowing them to benefit from having a presence in this destination.”
However, the main driving force behind the industry’s boom is in the increase in bilingual workers. Said increase is pushing the industry into expanding beyond just call centers, which Álvaro Baltodano, presidential delegate for investments, addressed when talking about the benefits for foreign investors.
“In certain cases for companies, certain activities can mean an extra cost, either monetary or time, difficult to assume. And here is where they plan to leave it in the hands of specialized companies. Certain types of services can be added, such as customer service, recovery of Portfolio management, payroll administration, marketing and sales, information technology services, among other activities.”
The country counts for just over 5,300 English-language speakers of an advanced level, including the graduation class of 319 students in May and June this year from Managua’s international schools.
President of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), José Adán Aguerri, however, addresses his main concern towards the new bilingual generation.
“Part of the problem we have is to see how you change the mentality of young people so that they really go to those kinds of economies, which is where the world is headed, because young people have stayed traditional mainly in the secondary sector and in The tertiary sector, are not entering this type of economy, but it is an effort that must be promoted.”
As its economy grows, Nicaragua benefits more and more from its geographical position, as it is only a few flying hours away from key cities in the US and cities in South America. Its strategic location may have the country seeing a potential economic boom in the future.