May 19, 2020

Webhelp and Harambee hire 500 unemployed young people

business development
Business Partnership
Simon Garabette
4 min
Webhelp and Harambee hire 500 unemployed young people

Chief Operating Officer at Webhelp South Africa, Simon Garabette discusses the company’s successful partnership with Harambee.

Building on its successful partnership with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, leading customer experience provider Webhelp will hire approximately 500 unemployed youth for a peak period campaign to service Shop Direct customers.

The Harambee model has worked very well for Webhelp, previously having hired 267 unemployed youth to work for several different clients in South Africa, of which just over half went into the Shop Direct campaign. The business success has been evident as measured by improved employee retention, excellent performance and high levels of customer satisfaction (NPS). And for young adults entering the world of work for the first time, there has been a significant positive social impact.

The first group are currently undergoing training and will go live in October, gaining valuable work experience during Shop Direct's peak trading period.

Mark Billingham, Group Customer Operations Director at Shop Direct, said:

“Shop Direct is committed to assisting the Webhelp initiative of youth employment in South Africa. The relationship between the UK retailer and the SA-based BPO has been exceptionally successful thus far. We have found that the SA youth identify positively with the UK-based customers’ mind-set and attitude towards client service offerings.” Further adding, “Experience vs youth?? Often a debate, I had the privilege recently of being shown it doesn’t really matter, it’s about attitude, dedication & never giving up.”

Suzanne Edmondson, Head of Global Customer Operations at Shop Direct, said:

“I had the immense pleasure & pride recently to meet our first cohort of new Harambee trainees. Setting off on their journey to support the Shop Direct 2019 peak, in partnership with Webhelp & Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator.”

Also adding, “the energy, passion & enthusiasm is incredible. I am super proud of their commitment & excitement for day two into their programme. I genuinely cannot wait to see their journey unfold & be part of something super special for them, their communities, South Africa & our customers!”


Cathy Kalamaras, Managing Executive, People at Webhelp South Africa, said:

 “Positively impacting youth unemployment is at the heart of our CSR strategy, which is about giving back to the communities from which we recruit. Developing skills, removing barriers that keep youth locked out of the formal sector and creating sustainable employment have all become paramount in the fight against youth unemployment in our country.” 

Stephen Shields, Harambee’s Executive for Global Business Services, said:

“Harambee partners with business, government and young people to tackle the global challenge of youth unemployment by training young people to get and keep thier first job. Our work readiness programmes help orient them to the world of work – a model particularly effective for the contact centre industry as evidenced by our enduring partnership with Webhelp.”

The Webhelp-Harambee partnership dates back to an extremely successful 2016 Shop Direct pilot designed to determine if the Harambee model would work for international contact centres, help increase employee retention, protect labour arbitrage and have a positive impact on youth unemployment. Results exceeded expectations with 90% of recruits staying more than 12 months and maintaining exceptional behavioural metrics – including speed to competence and promotions in under 12 months.

The partnership has gone from strength to strength since – and this year, Webhelp has partnered with Harambee to source and prepare 500 fresh recruits for Shop Direct’s peak period. The intention is to permanently transition a large proportion of these candidates into Webhelp’s business and operations after the peak period has concluded. Webhelp and Shop Direct have also jointly created a work seeking fund, to support those that they cannot absorb into the business with finding other job opportunities.

To date, the Webhelp-Harambee partnership has positively impacted 130 families and 520 lives in the Shop Direct Campaign.

Share article

Jun 14, 2021

5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly

Kate Birch
3 min
Heading up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy is winning awards and leading with diversity

Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.

Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills. 

What do you do, in a nutshell?

I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.

How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?

I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.

They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?

The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless. 

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.


Share article