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Debari: SVG great for business

Debari: SVG great for business


St. Vincent and the Grenadines is great for business.

This vote of confidence has come from Harry Debari, a New York businessman who has been doing business here for the past 10 years.

Debari is the owner and CEO of Discoveryworks Legal, a litigation support company that has offices in New York and Philadelphia as well as here in St. Vincent.

The local office, known previously as Netdata Services was purchased by Debari’s company in January 2004 from Omnidox – another American company. That purchase was like déjà vu for Debari, as it was he who had come to St. Vincent and set up the original operation in 1995.{{more}}

After operating Netdata for a few years, Debari sold the company in 1998 to a large corporation in the United States, who in turn sold the company to Omnidox in 2002. The 40-year-old businessman said, “When I sold the

company, I thought I would

retire and never do anything else, but I found out that at my age, being retired wasn’t all that

much fun. I really wanted to get back to work.”

Since re-acquiring the company 18 months ago, the staff at Discoveryworks, Kingstown has grown from 40 persons to 140, and there are plans to increase this to about 300 within the next year. The CEO would ideally like a much larger local workforce, but does not think that he can realistically find that many persons with the aptitude and personality for this type of work in a country with such a small population. “Some people may not like the type of work that we do, day in day out, doing the processing, so there is always a limited number of people, one, that we can find, and two, that actually enjoy the work and are productive, and can do the work at a level that we need. St. Vincent has a little over 100,000 people – for us to be able to find 500 or 1000 people would be a really big stretch in terms of finding that many staff.

“A lot of our competitors are in India and the Philippines, and they have huge resources at their hands in terms of people. There are over a billion people in India. For some Indian company that competes with us to find 500 or 1000 people it’s not a problem, there are a lot of people there. So I guess one issue is the sheer number of people here on the island, we will only be able to get to a certain size.”

Despite this, Debari says he plans to continue doing business here. He finds the duty-free concessions on equipment “helpful,” and says the fact that he has a tax holiday “helps us in terms of being able to develop.” He is pleased with the available infrastructure, commenting, “the power and everything here seems to work well, the cost of telecommunications has come down dramatically – that’s a big plus, it’s really quite easy to get to St. Vincent. I can leave at 8 o’clock in the morning in New York and be in St. Vincent in the office at 3 p.m. that day, that’s very easy.”

He added, “I feel very safe here, it’s a good environment, we have a very respectful staff, and I feel that I can bring clients from the United States here, clients from the states would like to come here, to mingle some business with pleasure, its always nice to come down and then be able to spend a day or two on the beach. That’s very positive for our business. I like hotels we can stay at, the restaurants that we can eat at from a business perspective when we are down in St. Vincent, all of those things are fine, and it’s a beautiful place … we’re looking forward to continuing our growth here.”

The main thing that Debari noted that is a problem for him now, and even when he first came to St. Vincent in 1995, is that of finding suitable office space. “In the United States for example, in New York city, if I am looking for new office space, I could spend days looking at two dozen different locations that would be suitable for me. Here in St. Vincent, even though there’s been new construction going on, there’s really not a lot of commercial real estate where someone could put a business in. So that’s something that’s potentially an impediment.”

Another impediment Debari mentioned was the difficulty in finding technical personnel. “We are looking to really build our technical department, so any of those persons who are out there, coming back from university, interested in having a career in software programming, technology, please send us your resumes, stop by, we’re really looking to expand our technical staff, and that’s probably one of the more difficult areas for us to fill, but we will continue to give everyone an opportunity. Those persons who are taking course work, and like I said, graduated from university, we’re very interested.”

Overall, he is very pleased with the quality of staff his company has been able to attract. “One of the great pluses in St. Vincent is that we have been able to retain people for a very long time, people are dedicated and loyal to the company and the work, and if people are with us for a long time, it reduces the amount of money we have to spend on training, and other types of support.”

The Kingstown office is run by an all local management team led by General Manager Brenda Bailey who has been with the company since inception.