Procomm Services, a joint venture between Tongan entrepreneurs and a Japanese investor, has big plans, including taking the competition up to the region's oldest call centre industry in Fiji.
Speaker:Tevita Kilisimasi Ha'apai, Director, ProComm Services, Tonga; Takeshi Tamura, Chairman, Suite Pole Co Ltd, Tokyo and Director, ProComm Services, Tonga;
GARRETT: There are nowhere near enough jobs for Tonga's thousands of school leavers so it is no wonder that ProComm Services was swamped with applicants when it opened its doors earlier this year.
Tonga's first call centre is the brainchild of Japanese-speaking, former senior public servant, Tevita Ha'apai.
ProComm offers tailored back office operations as well as telephone agents.
Tevita Ha'apai says it is an industry with a big future.
HA'APAI: The potential and the benefits are immense. Maybe one simple example would be the forecasts for the business processing outsource for the Asia Pacific region, that is excluding Japan. For 2016, it is expected to reach $US9.5billion, that is not for the whole world just Asia Pacific so a slice of not even 1%, 0.1 % could have a great impact on Tonga's economy.
GARRETT: Tevita Ha'apai spent 10 years studying economics and business management in Japan so when the Takeshi Tamura, Chairman, of the Japanese company Suite Pole, visited Tonga looking for investment opportunities, he was well placed.
Mr Tamura, has traelled to more than 40 countries looking for new business.
He says the crucial factor in any business relationship is not what business you are in but the quality of your partner.
Mr Ha'apai and Tongan culture clearly impressed.
TAMURA: I believe they can overcome difficulties because they can think by themselves and overcome difficulties and their team work is very well, because the Tongan has connected each other strong trust. So I decide to set up new company in Tonga. It is not difficult decision.
GARRETT: ProComm Services opened its doors in March, providing a call centre for the Tonga Communications Corporation.
International call centre and business operations became possible, in August, with the opening of Tonga's first fibre optic cable link to the rest of the world.
Takeshi Tamura and Tevita Ha'apai have been visiting New Zealand and Australia looking for business and hope to sign their first contract shortly.
ProComm is still waiting to hear what support it will get from the Tongan government but Mr Ha'apai is confident it has the capability to scale up to cope with new contracts.
HA'APAI: We have 35 staff based on our local service but our system is capable of having one thousand, up to thousand agents or staff.
GARRETT: So how hard has it been to be a pioneer industry like this, in an area of high technology, and with an international dimension?
HA'APAI: I have to admit it has been very hard especially as a pioneer with a new industry. In a South Pacific country, in Tonga it is challenging but we understand the reward or the benefits that there for Tonga.
GARRETT: You said you wanted help from the Tongan government. What specifically do you want the tongan government to do?
HA'APAI: As I understand from India and the Philippines it has become a national strategy for the government to assist and provide all the support that they can because they understand the potential, all the benefits that industry, or the ICT industry brings in for their respective countries. So in the same sense, we look forward to further develop not only the call centre, ProComm Services in Tonga, but the ICT industry because it is a new and exciting industry in Tonga.
GARRETT: How important is getting that low rate on the fibre optic cable, to the success of the business?
HA'APAI: It is critical because that would greatly contribute for us having a competitive advantage. We've got the people, the staff. There's cost effective in the labour costs or expenses and now it is just the communication costs and if we are competitive in that also, then we are competitive in both areas.
GARRETT: How much of a discount are you asking for on the rate for the access to the fibre optic cable?
HA'APAI: We are asking because we understand we are start-up a new industry, we are asking a fair amount of discount and we would appreciate any amount or assistance the government can afford us.
GARRETT: How confident are you that the government will respond?
HA'APAI: We are very confident because it was the vision of the government, of the Prime Mnister, to connect the fibre optic. They have supported the connection of the fibre optic cable to Tonga and so I understand they are supportive or looking at developing the industry, the ICT industry in Tonga.