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West Bank Call Center Bucking the Bad Trends

December 17, 2013
By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

When it comes to the call center market, there are always going to be certain companies that are always looking for more workers and some companies who can’t keep the ones they have. The best way to tell the difference between the two kinds of firms is the environment in which these call centers are erected. This can mean either the business environment as a whole or it can mean the specific location in which a call center is set up. One call center is trying to do business in an environment where few other call centers would attempt to make a go.

The Palestinian territory of Bethlehem is one place that certainly sees quite a bit of business during the Christmas season. Most Christians point to the area as the birthplace of Christ. Quite a few of those who see the area as the birthplace of their savior will take pilgrimages to Bethlehem during this time of year. That means money being spent on food, lodging and keepsakes. The tourism business for the area around Christmas is a lucrative one.

During the rest of the year, business is not nearly so booming. That is why eyebrows were raised in the business world when U.K. entrepreneur Jerry Marshall chose the area for his new call center. The businessman spent the first 13 years of his life in Kuwait, when his father worked there. He says that returning to the Middle East and setting up a business has always been his dream. The area has a 24 percent unemployment rate, but that didn’t stop Marshall from setting up his call center.

When the center was established, hiring practices were fairly strict. The company needed to make sure that those who were hired were young and could speak English as well as Arabic. When the firm had its first hiring round, it brought in about 30 people and the mix was almost 50-50 men and women.

While there were some struggles early on, the call center is rolling now. Marshall said the risk paid off, "and we have created a real business that has created real jobs, which Bethlehem, and the West Bank and Gaza in general, certainly need more of."

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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