BNEFIT: Strategies to Create Opportunities

Note: This is a 2015 Article.

It is amazing how one idea can lead to another. From several concerned individuals who supported the plans of the Sanggunian Committee on Communications and Energy chaired by first-termer Bacolod Councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue in 2004, to an organized group called the Bacolod IT Focus Team, to eventually an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Council of Bacolod created by way of an ordinance in 2006, to eventually a bigger confederation of government, academe and business and private sector known as BNEFIT, to finally being part of a national federation of ICT councils and organization in 2007 – the Bacolod ICT sector has grown by leaps and bounds.

Why it grew in such a pace? The secret lies in the commitment of the local ICT stakeholders to steer Bacolod City and Negros Occidental towards a common direction – for the benefit of all. Aptly named, BNEFIT stands for Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for ICT, approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a non-stock non-profit organization to pursue ICT- readiness and competitiveness and to further push and sustain the gains of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as part of the Philippine Cyber Corridor.

By coming together, BNEFIT accepted the challenge posed by the former Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) with the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) as it targets to capture ten percent of the world’s outsourcing market equivalent to 13 billion USD revenues and one million employment by 2010 through public-private sector initiatives.

As a first step, CICT has sounded the call for accurate facts from various local government units in the Philippine Roadmap 2010, a comprehensive study of the Philippine outsourcing industry which details the aspirations of the Philippine BPO industry and the initiatives needed in order to achieve these goals.

BNEFIT aims to be a collective effort of the academe and human resource development, real estate and business and local governments to undertake projects and programs complementary to the vision of making Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as viable locations for ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. It assisted local government units and the national government especially in designing programs that will complement the educational system and integrate ICT therein to produce a more competent and job-ready workforce.

It aims to establish and institutionalize a strong network and various linkages with all academic, formal and non-formal, technical and vocational training institutions in Bacolod and Negros Occidental in order to formulate, consolidate and implements strategies and programs that will address the challenges and gaps identified in the ICT sector.

BNEFIT also regularly helps to develop a comprehensive plan on a provincial basis in order to yield a more accurate picture of the workforce and a rationalized program of infrastructure and human resource build-up based on strengths, encourage synergy among the sectors involved in developing government support, business environment and talent development, in order avoid duplication of efforts, minimize competition among local government units, and maximize resources to better prepare the province and the region to become competitive globally.

On May 2013, Bacolod was finally elevated as one of the Centers of Excellence in IT-BPM in the country, after being Top 5 (2009-2010) and Top 3 (2011-2012) in the Top Ten Next Wave Cities for Outsourcing and Off-shoring.

Consistently, from its entry to the Tholons Top 100 Destinations for Outsourcing as the 100th city in 2010, Bacolod moved higher almost each year to reach the 85th spot last January 2016.

As a result of the initiatives of BNEFIT, more than 20,000 new jobs in the outsourcing and offshoring (O&O) were created in Bacolod by 2012 for Bacolod and Negros Occidental.  Today, there is an estimated 24,000 direct IT-BPM jobs in Bacolod, or a salary circulation of almost 3 Billion Pesos a year.

In 2008, BNEFIT became part of a national federation of ICT councils and organizations – National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP). Today, the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP serves as the recognized advocate for countrywide ICT industry development. NICP is known as the champion of countrywide digital development and a staunch advocate for developing a smarter countryside.

BNEFIT today has become a role model for other cities. Batapa-Sigue as one of the founders and former president of NICP has been instrumental in inspiring and helping various cities and provinces in the Philippines to create their ICT councils or to strengthen their existing councils by encouraging the adoption her four-fold underlying principles:

  1. Government is a catalyst of all stakeholders and must initiate and encourage all key sectors to set and join in pursuing a direction
  2. The private sector must actively support the government by providing resources to improve the business ecosystem, provide the real estate and telecommunications infrastructure.
  3. The academe must continuously link with the industry to ensure relevant education
  4. All three sectors must work together to pursue competitiveness and readiness in ICT using the multi-stakeholder approach and has embraced the principle of collaboration among the local government and national government agencies with the academe and industry.

After serving for several years as president of BNEFIT, Batapa-Sigue now serves as Executive Director of BNEFIT to mentor new leaders.

The mission of NICP is to promote foreign and local investments and a balanced development between Metro Manila and all the other cities and provinces in the country, to share information and best practices, and to transform the Philippines into a customer-oriented and competitive provider for global services.

Batapa-Sigue has relentlessly pursued the goal of making NICP as a national venue for collaboration; develop the member organizations through the sharing of best practices, among others, and to be the unified voice for the Philippine Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Industry. NICP represents the collective effort of the academe and human resource development, real estate and business and local governments in more than 30 cities and provinces in the Philippines forged to undertake projects and programs complementary to the vision of making the Philippines as viable locations for ICT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services, thus creating more jobs, raising more revenues, generating more investments and improving the educational standards and human resource capability of our individual regions and the country in general. 

In 2014, Batapa-Sigue was awarded as Philippines ICT Individual Contributor of the Year by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines and the IT and Business process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).

PROJECTS/PROGRAMS IMPLEMENTED BY BNEFIT AS OF 2018

INVESTMENT PROMOTIONS

  • International and Local Trade Missions and Expositions to Promote Bacolod and Negros Occidental
  • Research and Development of Presentations to Investors Promotion Strategies and Collaterals
  • Investment Meetings and Briefing for Potential Locators
  • Active Leadership Roles in national ICT associations (NICP) and regional clusters (VICTOR)
  • Guidance and Support to Locators and Investors for Ancillary Services and Industries
  • Partnership with the Province of Negros Occidental ICT Investments Programs

BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT SUPPORT

  • Development of Forum and Activities to Introduce Information on New Investments and Innovation Trends
  • Business Research Center Services as DTI Shared Service Facility Cooperator
  • Policy Support for the Provincial Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council
  • Technology Business Incubation Management for Tech-Startups and Entrepreneurs  with DOST
  • Design and Implementation of ICT Investments Conferences, Seminars and Exhibitions
  • Private Sector Representation in the Regional Competitiveness Council
  • Continuing Advocacy Support to Address Concerns and Issues of the Local ICT Industry

TALENT DEVELOPMENT

  • Faculty Training and Development on New ICT Areas (EMC Academic Alliance on Cloud Infrastructure and Information and Storage Management
  • Certifications for ICT Graduates (Philippine ICT General Certification Examinations, IBPAP and EMC   
  • Certifications, TESDA and Industry-Based Finishing Courses)
  • Annual Academic ICT Skills Competitions
  • Partnerships with Academe and Human Resource Training Organizations

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