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Preciss Speaks-Champion a Nation Through Outsource!
Some of you may recall that last year on the Benin Epilogue, we featured a piece on the entrepreneur behind a Business Process Outsource (BPO) company from Kenya called Preciss Patrol. Actually, it was one of my favorite posts because it encapsulated so many important facets of entrepreneurship-all in one story.
For those of you who might not be familiar with Mrs. Mugo and the company that she founded called Preciss Patrol, let me summarize it by saying that through Preciss Patrol Mugure has helped to pioneer Kenya’s outsource industry. When she started her company it was a small concern focusing only on a tiny piece of the BPO outsourcing field. Since then this company has grown considerably and has often been the subject of writers seeking to forecast the country’s future impact on the global outsource industry.
Well, not long after publishing that particular piece on Preciss, I was very fortunate to actually catch up with the founder of the company-Mrs. Mugure Mugo. The conversation that follows is the culmination of our discussions.
Since the post that we did summarizing your accomplishments on the
Benin Epilogue, you have kept Preciss on the path to becoming an even bigger name in Kenya’s outsourcing industry, picking up a stable of accomplishments along the way. Which of your feat’s have been the most memorable for you, so far?
By far the most significant thing that has happened is that we have
received funding approval from a local investment company, with which we
have been in discussions for the last few months. The company handles funds
from a number of organizations, including IFC (International Finance
Corporation) and European Investment Bank, and we will be utilizing the
funds to expand our current capacity, and to improve our infrastructure so
as to enable us serve our current and future clients even better.
This is very exciting for us, as it comes at a time when we expect a high
level of renewed interest in Kenya as a destination for outsourced
What impressed me the most about you and your company Mugure, was
that you have become Kenya’s unofficial spokesperson for the whole ICT
outsourcing industry. That to me signaled the emergence of a true
market leader. Could you please tell us how this role came about?
Preciss was the first BPO company in Kenya, and we learnt very early on
that we had to actively promote Kenya as part of our marketing activities,
if we were to successfully attract clients. Thus, Preciss became quite a
visible champion for Kenya’s outsourcing industry and this has remained
the case to date.
Over the years, the industry has grown and progressed, and we currently
have a very active association, the Kenya BPO and Contact Center Society,
which is highly involved in promoting Kenya, in conjunction with our
Ministry of Information and other corporate and government bodies.
When the words “Africa” and “business” come up, typically ICT and IT outsourcing aren’t necessarily the first things that come to mind. Yet this young industry has been making steady gains in various parts of the continent. Who are the continent’s biggest players right now, by rank and how does Kenya fit into this picture?
Africa’s biggest players have been South Africa, Mauritius, Egypt, Ghana
Kenya has recently emerged as a competing destination, and we expect to
strongly rival these countries, particularly once we are connected to
international fiber optic telecommunications networks in the next 12 months
What do you think that countries such as Kenya must do to become the
India of Africa-as it relates to ICT outsourcing? How do you think that
the continent’s ICT outsource industry should brand or differentiate itself
from those operating on the Asian continent?
India’s BPO industry has been in existence for over 15 years, is strongly
aware of its particular strengths and is able to effectively position
New and emerging destinations need not try to position themselves in the
way that India has done. They need to identify their own areas of strength
and create strong value propositions according to their unique competitive
Has being a woman in business, in the Kenyan business environment,
presented any specific challenges? If so, how have you been able to
conquer those obstacles?
I have not encountered any special challenges being a woman in business, as
the environment in Kenya is not too restrictive to women, compared to other
parts of the world. Our cultural and business values do allow for women to
take the lead and there are several prominent and successful women in
However, doing business as a wife and mother presents unique challenges as
I have to find a balance between growing my business and my very real
responsibilities at home. I try to overcome this by ensuring that I have a
strong and supportive team in my business, and efficient domestic help to
assist with the daily responsibilities at home.
As a business owner, what single issue resonates the most with your clients-price, quality, speed, or some other factor?
Quality and speed will usually be more important than the cost factor.
Confidentiality and the ability to handle important client information with
discretion also ranks highly in the priorities of most of our clients.
Which country or countries would you say that the majority of your
clients are based in?
The majority of our clients are from USA, UK and Canada.
Can you describe what a typical job or project is like for Preciss
Preciss’s service offerings are structured around three divisions. Each
division provides different services, requires different skills and
therefore offers a different experience for those involved.
1) PrecissContact is providing call centre services to local and
international markets in the following areas:
a) Inbound telecare services
customer care services
b) Outbound telemarketing services
2) PrecissData / PrecissPatrol, which provides data processing services in
the following areas:
PrecissCaptions is providing services to organizations based in North
America and Europe in the following areas:
Each of Preciss’s operational divisions has a dedicated pool of qualified
personnel, all equipped with the skills necessary to complete required
tasks. Their typical day revolves around the duties related to the
particular division to which they have been assigned, and may require them
to work on shift basis and on weekends in order to effectively support our
When or how did you know that the time was right for you to start an
ICT outsource consultancy?
Towards the end of 2001, I attended a conference here in Nairobi, sponsored
by UNCTAD’s International Trade Center (ITC). One of the things ITC spoke
about was the need for African countries to move away from traditional
exports and look for new opportunities, particularly those brought about by
new technology. I became strongly convinced that there were areas in which
we in Africa could offer our services competitively in the global arena,
particularly in services that were labor intensive.
Shortly thereafter, I registered Preciss and began offering our services to
international markets. I believe this was a very opportune time for Preciss
to come into existence, and we have had made very significant strides as
the Kenyan BPO industry has continued to grow.
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A credit analyst by profession, Benin Mwangi is one of the world's foremost experts on the topic of entrepreneurship in Africa. He is the founder of Benin Mwangi Enterprises, a consulting firm that specializes in promoting trade in Africa as a means to achieve self-empowerment and community development. His blog, BeninMwangi.com, serves as one of the most popular online destinations for those looking to learn about and discuss business and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is also a regular contributor to Global Voices Online and Kenya Empowerment News.
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