I was poking around the internet today for information on Mugure Mugo, founder of one of the first outsourcing companies in East Africa*, and came across a blog post by a Virginian author, James A. Bacon, who runs the op-ed site Bacon’s Rebellion. Bacon had some pretty interesting things to say about global trade back in 2002; I’ve copied his conclusion here:
Occasionally, I have qualms about outsourcing my business overseas. One of my consuming interests in Bacon’s Rebellion is rural economic development. I’m acutely aware that thousands of my fellow Virginians in places like Martinsville, where I once lived, are out of work. Shouldn’t I be looking for some way to outsource my business to Southside or Southwest Virginia? By feeding business to Virginians in distressed areas, couldn’t I contribute in a small way to creating a stronger, more vibrant Commonwealth?
But the qualms don’t last long. I doubt I could find a Virginian with a college education willing to work for $7 an hour. And, the fact is, in the early stage of building my own business, I can’t afford to pay any more. Besides, it was Mugure who found me, not someone from Danville or Abingdon. If she hadn’t shown the initiative in identifying my website, I probably wouldn’t have found anyone to do my market research. Now, thanks to PrecissPatrol, I have developed a list of more than 100 highly qualified prospects for a new marketing service that I plan to roll out shortly. If the new initiative is a success, I’ll have Mugure to thank in part.
To my mind, outsourcing to Kenya doesn’t take away jobs from Americans. Mugure’s Web research will help jump-start sales for at least one fledgling business, Bacon’s Rebellion, and help preserve at least one job — mine. Eventually, as Bacon’s Rebellion grows, I will hire Virginians to work for me. Forging partnerships with Kenyans to handle the routine work allows Virginians the luxury of concentrating on the creative, value-added tasks.
Meanwhile, I’m delighted that I can contribute in some small measure to the success of a business enterprise on another continent. Developing countries like Kenya need entrepreneurs like Mugure to generate foreign exchange and raise their standards of living. Global trade is beautiful. By disseminating fresh ideas through Bacon’s Rebellion, I hope to help build a better Virginia. By outsourcing to Kenya, I’m helping build a better world.
This article highlights a point that outsourcing opponents often miss: much of the work that goes overseas is too expensive to do domestically to begin with. For many small businesses, outsourcing adds to what entrepreneurs can do with limited resources.
*Mugure’s firm is Preciss International, EPZ, one of Samasource’s partners.