Business

itelbpo responds to needs of team members hit by Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas …

…GoFundMe campaign established by company quickly meeting expectations

BY ALEXIS MONTEITH
Observer Business Writer

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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Hurricane Dorian, which left a trail of destruction and loss of life through sections of The Bahamas last week has directly impacted itelbpo, the Jamaican-owned business process outsourcer (BPO), which has 168 people employed to its facility in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

According to the organisation's founding chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), Yoni Epstein, all employees survived the hurricane but 50 to 60 per cent of team members suffered significant material losses. The number of employees who have lost their entire homes make up 30 per cent of that number, while others have lost roofs and sustained damage to homes and vehicles.

“There have been varying degrees of losses among our team members,” commented Epstein. “We are supporting all of them on varying levels depending on their needs.”

An emergency management team was put into place by itelbpo upon the arrival of Dorian in Grand Bahama and the company's Atlanta-based, senior vice-president of operations, John Ingenito, has been in constant contact with staff on the island since Dorian made landfall. Assessment, planning and implementation have been ongoing since that time.

Employees in The Bahamas were asked to feed information back to the company, not only about the damage they had suffered, but also the plight and immediate needs of neighbours and friends in their communities.

Based on the information coming from staff about the wider communities on Grand Bahama island, the company mobilised its 4Ys Foundation last week to implement an initiative to raise funds for victims of the hurricane. One of the primary tools of this fund-raising effort was a GoFundMe page through which donations could be made.

The GoFundMe campaign has raised US$18,000 in monetary contributions since last week and itelbpo itself donated US$25,000. Another local foundation contributed $2,000,000.

A T-shirt drive which was also launched by the 4Ys Foundation, is close to completing its initial objective of raising $500,000 from itelbpo employees. The foundation has set an objective to reach US$100,000 in contributions from donors and the effort will be promoted at the company's internal corporate event, itelfest, to be held at The Courtleigh Auditorium in Kingston, on Saturday, September 14.

“We knew that when we put the call out to our network for support in the relief efforts that we would see results, but the level of contributions from our team, partners and friends in such a short period of time has exceeded all expectations,” Epstein expressed. “Relative to our size it is outstanding and we are grateful to each person and organisation who has played their part.”

According to the itelbpo CEO, the information that was provided by employees in the Bahamas detailing the specific needs of the affected communities has guided the foundation in using the money raised to purchase supplies such as batteries, diapers, tarpaulins, medical equipment, air mattresses and other emergency items for Bahamians.

Further, the Grand Lucayan resort on Grand Bahama island has offered a helping hand to itelbpo's employees by offering temporary subsidised rental of its rooms to those who have lost everything.

“75 per cent of the staff have expressed a strong desire to return to work as soon as possibl,” Epstein revealed. “I was surprised to hear this given what they have been through in the past week. Their dedication and eagerness to bounce back and resume operations is a testament to their determination to rise above these dire circumstances.”

In light of the willingness of a majority of employees to get back to work, itelbpo will reopen its facility next week. It is normally open for business on a 24-hour basis but it will initially run from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Work will be conducted in two shifts, which will be reduced from eight hours to six hours and employees will still be paid their full salary.

The first week will see the facility operating at 25 per cent of its usual capacity and this is expected to increase by another 25 per cent each week.

“The resilience of our team has been inspiring to say the least, and I am confident that the site will be fully operational within the next few weeks,” said Epstein. “The spirit of the Bahamian people is strong and so is their will to recover quickly.”

The itelbpo facility in the Bahamas services clients in the airline, hotel and lodging industries. The company also has contact centre locations in Jamaica, Mexico and the United States.


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