Fiji has been called “the contact centre industry’s best-kept secret” and the “new frontier” of business process outsourcing. It may not be the first country that comes to mind for Australian and New Zealand businesses looking to outsource, but that may be about to change. Government and industry are making a concerted effort in 2021 to make the market aware that Fiji is not just an island paradise, but a highly competitive and quality destination for a range of business services – from call centres and collections to digital marketing, IT helpdesk, accounting and HR.
Facts and figures
- Companies that have outsourced to Fiji include ANZ Bank, Vodafone, iSelect, Spotlight Retail Group, Lebara, as well as a vast array of SMEs and startups.
- The time zone difference between Fiji and Australia/New Zealand is negligible – during daylight savings, Fiji is one hour ahead of Sydney and one hour behind New Zealand.
- The flight time from Sydney to Fiji is four hours – faster than a flight from Sydney to Perth.
- There are direct flights to both Suva and Nadi from Australia.
- The capital of Fiji is the port city of Suva, where many BPOs operate. Nadi is also an expanding hub. Both cities are on the main island of Viti Levu.
- Fiji is considered the hub of the Pacific, connecting the Pacific islands with the rest of the world.
- Fiji gained independence from the UK in 1970, but British influence continues, for example in the legal system.
- Fiji has demonstrated political stability with the same Prime Minister since 2007.
- The two words in Fiji which you will hear most are “Bula” which means hello, and “Vinaka”, which means thank you.
- The population of Fiji is just over 900,000, with an annual growth rate of 0.7%. Around 43% of citizens are in the workforce.
- The demographic of Fiji is young, with approximately 50% of residents under the age of 27. This suits the outsourcing industry, which requires digitally savvy talent.
- Women outnumber men in frontline contact centre roles.
- Fiji is home to a large number of 2nd/3rd generation Asian Indians. 37.5% of the population is Indo-Fijian.
- Fiji has a talent pool of approximately 5,000 new graduates entering the workforce annually.
- Most entry level employees in the outsourcing industry are university graduates.
- The main universities are the University of the South Pacific and Fiji National University in Suva, and University of Fiji in Lautoka.
- Fiji is a deeply religious society with the majority – 64% of the population – being Christian. This reflects the country’s history of colonisation by the UK and missionary presence.
- Fijian culture is centred on community and harmony. Employee-employer litigation is rare.
- The official work week is 40 hours. In the BPO world, there are a variety of shifts ensuring 24×7 coverage for clients, but the bulk of the workforce is home in time for a family dinner.
- Some BPOs offer a private bus service which picks up employees from their home and shuttles them to work.
- Traffic congestion in Suva and Nadi is nothing like other BPO hubs in Manila or parts of India. The commute time is therefore much shorter – an average of 20 minutes.
- Popular breaktime activities for BPO workers include touch rugby, soccer and volleyball.
- Customer service comes naturally to Fijians – it’s in their DNA, which is why tourism has been so successful in Fiji.
- Fiji has three official languages: English, Fijian, and Fiji Hindi.
- The language of instruction in schools is English.
- Fijians speak a very accent-neutral English.
- Call centre agents representing Australian/New Zealand clients are always screened for excellent English language skills. Request a call sample of a Fiji call centre agent.
- Familiarity with Australians and New Zealanders is strong due to Fiji’s popularity as a regional tourist destination. In 2019, the number of Australians who visited Fiji was 367,020.
- The literacy rate is a high 99%.
The role of BPO in the Fiji economy
- The BPO industry is an increasingly important segment of the Fiji economy.
- The industry employs around 3,000 Fijians and generates around A$66 million annually. The Government’s goal is to increase the BPO workforce to 10,000 in the medium term.
- Australia is the largest source market for BPO in Fiji, followed by New Zealand.
- In terms of business models, BPOs offer traditional outsourcing alongside co-sourcing/staff leasing and even at-home working models. Staff leasing is the “in-between model” (between traditional outsourcing and establishing your own entity) – essentially you pay a staff leasing provider a fee to help you recruit, house and payroll, but the staff remain under your direction and control.
- Most BPOs in Fiji have international ownership, and Directors or sales managers on the ground in Australia and other target markets. This makes the whole process of offshoring go much more smoothly.
- The biggest segment of BPO in Fiji is contact centres.
- After contact centres (which includes customer service, collections, lead generation and technical support), popular tasks outsourced to Fiji are: accounting, data processing, payroll processing, digital marketing, website design and general administration.
- Via its Investment Fiji arm, the Government offers several incentives to encourage BPOs to open delivery centres in Fiji, including:
– 13-year tax holiday
– Duty-free equipment used in outsourcing centres
– Carry forward losses up to 8 years
– 25% investment allowance for renovation of buildings
– No stamp duty– Employment taxation schemes enabling tax deductions as follows: 300% – first time employees; 300% – work placements; 300% – part-time workers; 400% – employees with disabilities; 150% – employee development; 150% – relating to family care; 150% – relating to paternity leave
- Excellent telecommunications infrastructure is a prerequisite for a BPO industry. Fiji boasts fast and secure Internet connectivity with links to New Zealand, Australia and North America via access to the Southern Cross Cable.
- Large BPOs in Fiji have generators and UPS (uninterruptible power supply) so they can operate continuously even through cyclone activity.
- The BPO Council of Fiji was established in September 2020 as a single voice for the industry. The Council’s activities include raising awareness of Fiji as an outsourcing destination internationally, and coordinating with Government bodies on training, governance and regulatory frameworks.
Wages, cost of living and BPO pricing
- Fiji BPOs charge clients a fully loaded rate of roughly A$10-$15 per hour for most types of work. This includes not only wages, but facilities, utilities, management, and of course a profit margin.
- Wages in Fiji are significantly lower than developed economies. Fiji is on average 265% cheaper than Australia and 219% cheaper than New Zealand, as highlighted in the chart below.
|Occupation||Fiji (AUD)||Australia (AUD)||New Zealand (AUD)|
|Call centre worker||$6,520||$45,147||$40,620|
|Customer service rep.||$7,887||$49,357||$42,395|
|IT support technician||$11,220||$54,163||$43,287|
43. The national minimum wage is FJ$2.68 per hour.
44. Employers contribute 5% – 10% of monthly wages to employees’ superannuation.
45. The cost of living is also extremely low compared to Australia and New Zealand.
|Item||Description||Fiji (AUD)||Australia (AUD)||New Zealand (AUD)|
|Domestic beer||0.8L from supermarket||$3.69||$5.52||$4.40|
|Rent per month||1 bedroom in city centre||$823.38||$1,704.80||$1,465.29|
|Basic (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage)||
85sq.m. apartment (monthly)
- Fiji is comparable to the Philippines in price for outsourcing services.
- The currency of Fiji is the Fiji dollar (FJD). The exchange rate versus AUD and NZD has been stable over recent years. By way of example, five years ago, 1 Fijian dollar equalled A$0.63, and as of February 2021, the rate is identical.
- Most BPOs in Fiji invoice in the currency of the source market, eg. Australian dollars in the case of Australian clients.
- The country has a low corporate tax rate of 20%.
- The Fijian Government announced a FJ$3.67 billion stimulus package to fight the impact of COVID-19 in the 2020/2021 Budget.
- Fiji was extremely successful in thwarting the pandemic early compared to other countries – thanks to strict border controls, quarantines, curfews, closure of high-traffic venues (gyms, pools, places of worship) and limitation on the number of people at social gatherings.
- Due to the devastating impact on tourism, there is a movement to diversify and expand Fiji’s exports in other areas, such as business process outsourcing.
9 Benefits of outsourcing to Fiji
Outsourcing to Fiji offers many benefits, including:
- Big cost savings – you’ll probably save 50% or more, even taking into account time and effort spent on vendor management, and travel.
- Minimising HR headaches – BPOs will help you recruit new and replacement staff, and manage any HR issues, as the staff are employed by the BPO.
- Access to talent who are enthusiastic and eager to work in an international environment servicing customers overseas, and who want to develop a career there.
- Speed – BPOs work fast as they are hungry to implement new client programs! Bypass internal bureaucracy in your own organisation and get to market faster by outsourcing.
- Better customer outcomes – the savings companies get in Fiji create room for a fund to innovate and invest in technology to improve the service experience for customers.
- Deeper focus – one of the top reasons for outsourcing is to remove distractions in the form of non-strategic tasks, so you have the headspace to hone in on the things that really matter to make your business thrive.
- Risk mitigation – the world is facing a growing frequency of disasters, such as extreme climate events and pandemics. This has resulted in a trend to diversify locations for service delivery, and not put all the eggs in one country’s basket offshore. For companies that were exposed to shutdowns and lockdowns in countries like the Philippines and India, Fiji presents a compelling replacement or supplementary destination.
- Workforce elasticity – a team in Fiji gives you the flexibility to manage the peaks and trophs which inevitably occur in business, either planned or unplanned.
- And perhaps the greatest (unspoken) benefit of outsourcing to Fiji is that you have the perfect excuse to tag on a holiday when you visit your operations!
We hope this list empowers you with everything you need to know about Fiji as a destination for business process outsourcing!