October 25, 2021

Progress report OJO Labs makes Saint Lucia a Caribbean leader in new technology

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By NICOLE MC DONALD From St Lucia Star

This is a feel good story. This is a story about real change; about opportunities; about young people on the move. This is a story about trips that show results and about having a vision and seeing it through. This is a story about sustainable employment. Employment you can take to the bank! The following is not about three month or six month contracts extended or ended at the whims and fancy of some.  The following is about young people learning a skill that they can have all their life, to start their own businesses or rise through the ranks.

This is a story about Ojo Labs. This is a story about long-awaited southern development and the Government of Saint Lucia changing the status quo of concentrating efforts only in the north of the island.

Just over 14 months ago Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet flew to Texas to meet with David Rubin about an idea to teach Saint Lucians something unique and cutting edge. All over the world we have seen developing countries take advantage of technology, under the current administration no longer will our country be left behind. This is inkeeping with the Government’s agenda to create diverse employment, including technology.

For those who don’t know, David Rubin was part of a successful company in Saint Lucia called Yodle,  and was head of sales for three years, first as SVP of Sales and then as Chief Revenue Officer. David has a proven 20 year track record as a successful CEO and sales leader in the technology space. He has a record of several successful tech companies. An added incentive for his newest venture was that David also loves Saint Lucia.

In March of last year following several meetings with the prime minister and Invest Saint Lucia, what we now call Ojo Labs began to take shape. The joint venture between the Government of Saint Lucia and Ojo would be located in the south and focus on employing young people.

During a visit to Saint Lucia in March 2017 and following a presentation to Cabinet, Rubin said: “We have some experience in my previous company employing Saint Lucians on the north side of the island. We employed 150 Saint Lucians in mostly call center operations and one of the things that really struck us with Saint Lucians was how good they were with computers and how good they were at multi-tasking. It turns out that the latest company we have started, Ojo Labs, is on the forefront of what we call Artificial Intelligence (A.I.).”

Mr. Rubin gave an overview of what the company does, stating: “We are building the first automated intelligence assistant for the real estate industry. The initial industry is real estate but it actually has applications across different industries. So it’s technology and neural networks that can respond to consumers’ questions and inquiries and do that mostly automatically.”

The Saint Lucia operation, he explained at the time would employ artificial intelligence trainers.

“These A.I. trainers will actually be tagging communications from consumers and teaching the machine what the intent of those consumers are. Based on what we saw in our experience in employing Saint Lucians previously we think they would be excellent at this job. We are going to combine that job with some opportunities on the call center side and think that we will be able to employ quite a few people down south and are quite excited about that.”

Flash to November 2017 and Saint Lucia opened the first artificial intelligence (A.I.) contact center to be established in the Caribbean. Forty agents have been employed at the facility which is housed in the Hewanorra Freezone within one of ISL’s factory shells, which was retrofitted to specifically accommodate the agents in a state-of-the-art facility.

However, since Ojo Labs was announced by the Government of Saint Lucia there have been those who have criticized the decision, with no real substance behind the objections.

Has the Government partnered with a private company to train Saint Lucians? Yes! Is Government contributing to the income of Saint Lucian young people in this cutting edge industry? Yes! Is Government making a sustainable investment with Ojo Labs? Yes!

It’s easier to dismiss the naysayers when you meet and see the faces of the vibrant first group of Saint Lucians employed at Ojo Labs.

Prime Minister Chastanet saw this first hand when he visited the facility this week and heard the stories from the excited youth who are learning a new trade at Ojo Labs.

In fact Ojo is on schedule to employ approximately 300 agents within the next few years. We have a feeling you will be hearing much more about this innovative initiative as more of our young Saint Lucian citizens continue to benefit!

For daily updates on Government’s progress visit: https://www.facebook.com/opmsaintlucia/

IMAGE: Prime Minister Allen Chastanet(center back) with the first group of young people being trained in new technology at Ojo Labs in Vieux Fort.

For more on this story go to: https://stluciastar.com/progress-report-ojo-labs-makes-saint-lucia-caribbean-leader-new-technology/

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