Boldr has always been a mission-driven labor of love. A place where the personal meets the professional. Remaining Curious, Authentic, and Dynamic requires a space of honest reflection and development. Our Company, Clients, and Community are ever-evolving, but our Purpose holds true: help people grow and connect.
This Purpose gained new meaning as we entered the COVID-19 era. In 2020, economic devastation rippled across the world. As Suneet illustrated in his last blog post, Boldr initially prioritized two things: team health and safety, first, followed by honoring the commitment to our clients. Long story short, in one week, we transitioned 300+ team members to remote work and maintained our obligations to Company, Clients, and Community.
With this adapted foundation in check, we integrated the significance of safety, security, and commitment into our Purpose. Growth and connection were needed now more than ever. We returned to the drawing board asking, “What is our role? How can we help?” Through building Boldr in Manila, we learned the significance of education, creating employment, and investing back into the economy.
We wondered, “Where else in the world can we have the greatest impact? How can we help, consciously, intentionally, through a culturally sensitive approach? To us, this answer was simple: let’s make it personal. Let’s return to our roots. With our sights focused on creating a more equitable global economy, and a drive fed by personal history and cultural ties, Boldr landed in Mérida, México in February 2021 and Cape Town, South Africa in April 2021. As of today, Boldr has opened its arms to 150+ team members in Mérida and 100+ team members in Cape Town.
During this year of intention and growth, why did Boldr select Mérida and Cape Town? We wanted to write a piece explaining our personal origins within and current ties to these cities. You’ll be hearing from David and Mari about how the personal became professional.
Last February, we began hiring team members in Mérida, México. Our team is safely housed in our office, located in the heart of the city’s Central district.
But why Mérida? Aside from being one of the safest cities in México (and in my humble opinion, one of the friendliest cities in the world), Mérida, for me and my family, is home.
My grandfather, Jorge Alamilla, was born in a fishing village near Mérida. Growing up, I remember my grandfather’s passionate retellings of his hometown’s coastal beauty and memories of helping his father run the family grain shop. He married his high school sweetheart, my Grandmother, Ana Magdalena Alamilla de Lara, and they moved to Mérida, hoping to build a more stable life for their family. After having their first two kids, my grandfather left his family, his Mayan roots, and all he knew to immigrate to the United States. He followed his American Dream to New York City, working three jobs at a time to save enough money to bring my grandmother, my mother, and her three brothers to New York City, the place they called home for the next 30 years. Missing cultural comforts, and observing a gap in the food market, in 1976, my Grandparents established a tortilla business. It was slow to start, but it eventually thrived. I hold immense gratitude for the opportunity and stability my grandfather’s grit and entrepreneurial drive provided for my family.
I have spent the majority of my adult years living in Manila while building Boldr, while observing and studying the local culture. The time away from my own roots gave way to a natural curiosity and desire to understand more about my own cultural history. My family and I traveled to Mérida often when I was a child, but after my grandfather passed, our visits stopped. Now, returnin
g to Mérida and seeing it through adult eyes, I feel pulled to embrace this distant part of myself. During my first visit back, I visited el Centro Histórico, where churches lean over cobblestone paths and the walled family homes lining the streets open up into beautiful gardens and immaculate rooms. The smells from the markets reunited me with the Yucatecan dishes my grandmother shared with me as a child. I was home.
While my own desire for cultural reconnection initially drew me to Mérida, it also explains my personal investment in the city’s economy and growing infrastructure. When initially studying the landscape in México, we examined four different cities, including México City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mérida. After careful review, it was highlighted that there was a substantial outsourcing presence in all of these cities, except for Mérida. Additionally, Mérida remains the largest entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Yucatan, concentrating 70% of the region’s activity.
On-top of demand, Mérida is known for its safety and quality of living, especially when compared to other major cities in México. Security is always a top priority when building our team. After connecting with talent across México and members of the Boldr team, it became apparent that there was overwhelming interest in relocating to Mérida. In addition to hiring in Mérida, we are also passionate about launching impact initiatives with local non-profit organizations, wanting to invest our resources where the city needs them most. We surveyed our team in Mérida and conducted our own research on the city’s economy. As a team, we identified the need to contribute to and aid in developing the education system in Mérida. In these early stages, we engaged with and listened to the community about potential paths forward that would lead to intentional impact.
My grandfather had to choose between sacrifice and opportunity. For me, reconnecting with my culture means bringing opportunity back to my family’s homeland. And we’re not the only ones. Ileana Méndez, our HR Manager, shares how she feels about the White City:
By creating individual opportunities for education and employment through Boldr, we are investing in the community and promoting systemic change for generations to come. We are connecting people while also helping the professional landscape thrive and grow. But that’s not where we stopped. Not even close.
After our safe landing in Mérida, México, Boldr opened another set of doors in Cape Town, South Africa in April of this year. The country’s legislative capital, the oldest, and the second largest city: the Mother City. In the same way this city is said to have given birth to civilization (thus its motherly nickname), it provided Boldr with the perfect opportunity to be reborn.
When Boldr was deciding on its next location to connect opportunity with talent, we wanted to continue striking a balance between personal investment and professional impact.
South Africa has been my family’s home for generations. Growing up as a White child in the suburbs of Johannesburg during Apartheid, I am acutely aware of the privileged, shielded life my family, race, and socioeconomic status afforded me. This sparked my passion to contribute to a better future for my country, a future all South Africans deserve.
While the history of South Africa is not my story to tell, it has served to ignite my drive to globally connect people, create individual opportunities, and impact mobility for future generations.
Similarly to David, I left my home country as a young adult to explore the world, learn about other cultures, and gain a deeper understanding of people. Living in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the United States gave me a novel perspective of developing vs. developed economies and how that translates to economic opportunity for individuals.
Fostering growth and connection within and between other cultures stirred a desire for me to revisit my own. Raising my children and establishing a career away from home has felt challenging. By establishing an office in South Africa, I look forward to showing my children where I come from and promoting economic and educational change in the same ways I enacted it abroad.
From a business perspective, my home country was an obvious choice. South Africa is already an outsourcing and technology hub, with more than 100 local and international BPO providers, and a recent, compound annual growth rate of 13.2% from 2020 to 2027 (twice the outsourcing industry’s global growth rate). The infrastructure is there, the business model has been proven, and there is tremendous opportunity. Unemployment in South Africa has reached 34% , which tops Bloomberg’s list of 82 tracked countries. Some of South Africa’s unemployment rates even reach 70% in rural areas.
The rest of my team embraced this personal and professional drive, making the “which city?” deep dive a fun, collaborative question to answer. We considered a few cities and were blown away by the support that we received from the local government and nonprofit organizations such as CapeBPO. With their support and guidance, we had all of the information and experts accessible to seamlessly get Boldr South Africa established.
Like Mérida, Cape Town boasts a high quality of life rating, with its natural beauty providing the environment and strong pull for skilled employees to lay down roots. Further, the dynamism and productivity of Cape Town’s entrepreneurial culture are drawing major companies to launch their head offices in the city, which is attracting an influx of other tech initiatives.
Unlike Mérida, like I mentioned, outsourcing was already a major presence within Cape Town’s economy. However, Boldr is committed to doing it better. Our eyes are wide open to gaps in training, education, and wage viability. We are committed to sourcing and hiring high school graduates, providing ample, holistic training for upward mobility, and not only paying living wages, but wages that allow families to live independently and to send their children to school. This way, we help create a virtuous cycle that keeps on giving, keeps on growing.
Through building reliable partnerships, my hope is to find our role in addressing education gaps and crippling unemployment rates. This way, we can invest our resources to have the greatest possible impact. This approach is perfectly aligned with Boldr’s mission and values. It is also perfectly aligned with my own.
The first team member we hired at Cape Town was Cherzaan Perumal, our HR and TA Manager. Here’s what she has to say about the Mother City:
As we continue our Purpose of helping our Company, Clients, and Community grow and connect, the significance of our personal narratives has come into focus. It is through witnessing sacrifice, systemic inequality, and individual opportunity (and where it’s lacking), that we are driven to build a framework for community impact. By listening to communities, individuals, and families in Mérida, Cape Town, and beyond, Boldr is learning about educational and economic needs, and striving to fill in the gaps. That’s why we’ve made it personal. Why we’ve come home. Why we’re focused on making a difference. Boldr is our foundation towards creating positive, impactful, meaningful change. And we’re nowhere near finished. World, here we come.
If you’re interested in seeing if Boldr is a match for your business, you can get a free consultation today.