Good Samaritan: Singapore startup provides Filipino rural youth quick access to call center jobs
BagoSphere launched a pilot call center class in a suburb area in the Philippines in 2011 with a 90% success rate of getting trainees into call centers.
According to BagoSphere co-founder Zhihan Lee, the startup provides the quickest way for rural youths living near and at the base of the pyramid (BoP), usually living on US$3 a day, to gain access to a full-time job in a multi-national company which pays them about US$250 a month.
"To do this, we offer a 2 month Call Center Course which trains rural youths in English communications, IT skills and provides basic call center exposure, so that they have the necessary skills to work in a call center. The program is currently still in development, and we plan to launch full classes by early 2013. We are based in Bago City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines," he said.
Lee said that a pilot was launched in 2011 with a 90% success rate of getting trainees into call centers.
"With an intention to scale this up into a full model, we have been establishing partnerships with call centers, a public private partnership with the local Bago City government and a partnership with Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, a kiva-supported micro-finance institution, in the Philippines," he noted.
"We are also raising US$100K seed money and have gotten offers from individuals as well as institutions both in Singapore and the Philippines. With this seed money, we will be able to train 525 youths in 2 years and breakeven. The impact on rural youths – US$ 1 million accumulated salaries projected from our graduates working in call centers for a year. That is a 10 times social return on investment," he added.
In the next 6 months, BagoSphere will be in start-up phase where they will ready the curriculum and a bigger training center.
"We plan to launch classes in early 2013 and expect to train 525 youths in the following 2 years. This would allow us to validate the business model and build a strong reputation in the province as a leader in call center training. Thereafter, we are looking at expansion to other cities and provinces across Philippines in 2015. We have a few ideas on how to do that and are talking to multiple groups of organizations in Singapore and the Philippines," said Lee.
Name of the company: BagoSphere
Founder/Founders: Zhihan Lee, Ivan Lau, Ellwyn Tan
Major Investors: Private
Total funding at hand: Private
Target fund: US$100,000
Source of funding: Angel, Venture Philanthropy
Start of operation: 2011