Coronation became a blessing for Tabibur Rahman. Freelancer Tabibur said, ‘I got some big work at this time. I don’t know if it would have been possible at another time. I lead the graphics team of an American organization. They paid seven thousand dollars a month during the project.
Tabibur worked in Jessore with a team of ten. Although many have lost their jobs in Corona, many freelancers like him have done well at this time. Seven thousand freelancers in the country use Pioneer’s payment method through Bank Asia. According to the bank’s sources, freelancers brought in 33,000 in 2018-19, 63,000 in 19-20 and 39,000 in 20-21. In addition, the people involved in this sector say that in the sectors that are efficient and current, the work and income has increased in those sectors. Many job opportunities have been created in the digital sector including health sector, e-commerce, game developing. Again, in some sectors like tourism, work has decreased.
Mahmudur Rahman worked on creating games, websites and mobile apps. He said people have spent a long time at home because of Corona. They are also inclined towards games. This sector has also expanded. Mahmudur also got a lot of work during this time. Sumon Saha, another freelancer, said his work has grown by about 30 percent in Corona.
However, some did not get much work at the beginning of Corona. In the first three to four months of the Belal government’s coronation in Dinajpur, work was reduced. Later leads again. As the market for e-commerce continues to grow, so does his work.
Kamrul Hasan studied textile engineering. After completing his studies, he also worked in two organizations. But there were worries about ‘job security’. He quit his job with freelance training in information technology. He started freelancing at his home in Chandpur. He earns 20 to 25 thousand rupees per month. He is not afraid to leave his job.
Many like Kamrul are now freelancing without caring about regular jobs. He said that if you can work regularly, you don’t have to sit still.
According to the Oxford Internet Institute, Bangladesh is second in the world in freelancing. Location after India. According to the Bangladesh Freelancer Development Society (BFDS), the number of active freelancers in the country is one and a half to two lakh. In 2016, the Oxford Internet Institute said that there are six and a half lakh freelancers in Bangladesh. However, according to the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), this information from Oxford is taken from the accounts of all the major freelancing sites in the world. Apart from this, many freelancers are also working directly with the clients.
There is no exact number of freelancers in the country. In November last year, the government started issuing ID cards to freelancers at the initiative of the Department of Information and Communication Technology to register freelancers and provide various benefits. BFDS is associated with this ID card. They said that so far 30,000 freelancers have taken this card. In addition, more than one lakh are in process.
The country lags behind in hourly income
Despite the expansion of freelancing, Bangladesh lags behind in terms of income. The Global Gig Economics Index 2019 lists freelancers as the countries with the highest incomes. Bangladesh is in the top ten, at number eight. Bangladesh is followed by the Philippines, India and Pakistan.
In a report by Oxford University in July, Asia quoted Japanese newspaper Nick Asia as saying that workers from emerging countries in the online market work for less than an hour in developed countries. The United States tops the list, with more than ৩০ 30 an hour. Even from the second position in the world in freelancing, the income of Bangladesh is less than 10 dollars. India, Pakistan and the Philippines earn more per hour than Bangladesh.
Freelancers raised the issue of skills in this low income of Bangladesh. Freelancer Shahriar Ibn Azam said in the first light, how skilled a freelancer will be depends on how much income he can earn. Besides, India and Pakistan have to compete with freelancers. They work at a much lower rate. Then the freelancers of Bangladesh also went to the lower rates to stay in the competition.
Afzalur Rahman, a freelancer, said that going to work without being skilled is the main challenge in freelancing in Bangladesh. He said that now there are more opportunities and more competition. So it is not right to come here without being skilled. Data entry work can take a month or two, but you need to be skilled enough to survive.
BFDS chairman Tanjiba Rahman said, “Many people fall down now after learning any kind of work. There is no interest in making oneself more efficient later. Sometimes the client gets annoyed with them and even gives a ban. He said work skills, communication skills and business dealing skills are equally important in freelancing.
The exact number of freelancers is not known, nor are the figures for how much money they bring in from abroad. BFDS says that number is more than 500 million.
There is also some frustration among freelancers in the country about the payment system. As everyone says, PayPal is a recognized payment method for freelancers worldwide. But despite having such a large workforce in Bangladesh, there is no PayPal. In this regard, BFDS Chairman Tanjiba Rahman told Prothom Alo that one of the reasons why PayPal did not come to the country is that there is no accurate information about the income of freelancers. PayPal is more acceptable. Most clients rely on PayPal. PayPal will see if it is profitable for him to come to this country. Because, money will come here. They also have to look at the issues of regulation. PayPal will also see how much money will remain here.
State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Junaid Ahmed said that efforts have been made to bring PayPal to Bangladesh since 2014. He said in the first light, talks with PayPal are ongoing and there has been a lot of progress in recent times. The state minister said that freelancers can give good news about PayPal. “I can’t make any official announcement. They (PayPal) may make a decision.
Junaid Ahmed said that a site has been set up for freelancers for cards and registration, through which they will be given various benefits. Not everyone registered there. It’s optional, anyone can do it if they want, anyone can do it. However, the large freelancing marketplace and the amount of remittances that come to the country, it is seen that there are six and a half million freelancers in the country.
Regarding low income per hour and efficiency, the state minister said, it all depends on efficiency, qualification, negotiation and many other things. However, the government has various programs for skill development and training.
Syed Almas Kabir, President of BASIS on Freelancing in the country, said that if everyone had taken the ID card of freelancers, one could have got the idea of number. He said freelancers earn 250 to 300 million rupees a year in the country. If their skills were a little more, the amount of money would be more. In addition, infrastructural facilities have to be provided. High speed internet should be provided up to remote areas. Broadband internet facilities and prices should be reduced.