When the first call centre in Mitchell’s Plain was launched last week, employees who live in the area spoke about the value of living close to their workplace – and not having to spend huge amounts of money and time travelling to and from work.
Last Thursday, July 7, Sigma Connected, an outsourcing firm, opened a state-of-the-art call centre at Watergate shopping centre. Its neighbour, Shadow Careers, will be recruiting employees through an initiative that will see unemployed youth being trained and helped to build careers in the contact centre industry.
One of the benefits for employees who live in the area, is that they can now walk to work, save on travel costs and spend more time with their families.
For the past eight years, Colorado Park mother of three, Monique Kasper, 32, had had to take four taxis to get to Sigma’s offices in Diep River. She started on a salary of R2 900 a month, most of which was spent on travelling to and from work, she said.
“I had two children on formula milk and nappies,” she said.
Now a team leader, after five promotions, Ms Kasper gets into her car, drives to work and goes home during load shedding.
Her children were so excited to see her during daylight hours and at home cooking for them. They have had to learn skills to look after each other, cook and clean the house.
Ms Kasper said it was “unreal” to be able to work close to home.
Her colleague Kara-Lee Losper, 36, from Lentegeur, occasionally walks to work. Previously, she said, she had had to drop her three-year-old daughter with a neighbour to take her to daycare.
Ms Losper used to get onto a bus at 6.05am to travel to Cape Town central business district (CBD), which is about 30 kilometres away from Mitchell’s Plain.
In order to do so, she had to be up at 4.30am to get herself and her daughter ready.
“Now the time (previously) spent on the bus can be family time. I can bath my children, feed them and prepare for the next day,” she said.
Sigma Connected group managing director David Neale said they wanted to reduce the burden of commuting to and from work.
He added that they plan to initially employ 60 people, then ramp it up to 1 000 over the next three years.
“We hope that other large organisations will look at what we’re doing and be inspired to open premises in the area,” he said.
Karrimah Jacobs, secretary of Plein Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the initiative.
“Mitchell’s Plain provides a significant proportion of the staff to the BPO (business process outsourcing) of Western Cape. We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations and compliments to the Watergate centre management and ownership for their forward thinking,” she said.
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Jacques Moolman said the opening of the first global business services operation in Mitchell’s Plain bodes well for the regional economy and further underlines the potential of the ICT sector.
“The Western Cape has seen huge growth in this sector, but the Watergate centre facility was the first that we know of in Mitchell’s Plain.
“The initiative could serve as a magnet for other such investments with a view to establishing some form of GBS hub,” he said.