Pakistan 3rd-highest user of freelancer as self-employment rises

Published: March 5, 2013

“Pakistan is the third largest country using the website [freelancer.com], closely following India and the United States,” says Byrnes. PHOTO: en.wikipedia.org

KARACHI: With a self-employment boom and double-digit growth in internet subscriptions, Pakistan has become the third highest user of freelancer.com, the world’s biggest online marketplace in terms of user base, it was revealed at the launch of the website’s local version on Tuesday.

“Pakistan is the third largest country using the website [freelancer.com], closely following India and the United States,” said Adam Byrnes, International Director at freelancer who joined the ceremony through a video call from the company’s headquarters in Sydney, Australia.

“Pakistani freelancers have already earned more than $13 million from the platform,” he said.

Freelancer’s decision to launch the local website comes on the back of strong growth in subscriptions by Pakistani freelancers. The website presently has 240,000 Pakistani users.

According to a report prepared by freelancer, self-employed Pakistanis surged from 33.3% to 39.9% between 2009 and 2012. The report attributes this surge in subscriptions to the rise in internet use in Pakistan, which saw double-digit growth in the past five years. In terms of internet growth, Pakistan stands second in the Saarc region, the report said.

“I am excited about the launch of freelancer.pk because of the potential Pakistan represents for the platform,” said Byrnes who is responsible for expanding freelancer across the world. “This [Pakistan] is a high value market for employers abroad.”

With more than 30 million internet users, five million plus broadband users and a population approaching 200 million, according to Byrnes, it makes sense to have a presence in Pakistan.

“Going forward, we want to provide self-employment for a billion people, a significant portion of that is going to come from Pakistan,” he said.

Freelancer just hit seven million users globally and 4.2 million projects were facilitated by the website, Muhammad Umer Farooq, company director responsible for managing the freelancer website told The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the event.

“An amount of $150 million has been spent so far by users of freelancer.com,” he said, adding they make money by charging commission from both the employers and the freelancers who get projects.

Interestingly, Farooq pointed out, it is not only foreigners hiring Pakistani freelancers, but Pakistani companies are also giving contracts to Pakistani freelancers registered on the website. United States is the top country awarding 38% of total projects on freelancer while Pakistan stands fifth for it awards 4% of the projects.

The idea is to enable rupee transactions for Pakistani members for which the company is in talks with local banks, both Farooq and Byrnes said. “Secondly, we are soon going to have an Urdu version of the website,” Farooq said.

IT and graphic designing (logo design) are the top two categories at freelancer. Freelancers can bid for the projects posted by employers through a simple method, he said. Given that it is one of the top countries on the website, Pakistani freelancers can benefit from exposure to the international job markets – the UK, North America, Australia and Canada.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Mar 5, 2013 - 11:52PM

    M js wana say freelancer UMer FarooQ is nyc.

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  • Rehan
    Mar 6, 2013 - 12:00AM

    I did not know that :)…However, I prefer odesk on the freelancer.

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  • Zain
    Mar 6, 2013 - 1:34AM

    How many Pakistani earning from freelancer ($13 million = 1.3 Billion PKR), eLance (~$40 million as of Jan 2012 reported by eLance = Rs 4 Billion) , and ODesk have paid income taxes on their $$$?

    White collar thiefs.

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  • Mar 6, 2013 - 1:44AM

    That is a good news :)

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  • Sonia K
    Mar 6, 2013 - 1:44AM

    Freelancer is just a money minting machine- It pays so less to the people who actually do the work and rips off the people. Earlier Freelancer earned less and since it introduced these levels it has been just pulling money off the credit cards and online accounts!!!!

    I do not know if Tribune will ever publish this- but the page where people actually transfer their money from credit cards and online accounts- the calculations about how much money will be deposited in the accounts is stated clearly in numerical formula. The final calculated amount as per Freelancer is also shown.
    Do your calculations and compare it with what Freelancer does for you. You will realize that there is a difference of exact $.01 in the beginning, maybe till the amount to be transferred is $20. Then the difference between the calculation as per what you do and as per what Freelancer does for you becomes $.02, till a certain range.

    It goes on increasing but the increase is not proportional to the range of values. I hope it is enough to make anyone understand what exactly Freelance is doing!!!! and to alert the masses!!!!

    There are many other options which are more fair!!!!

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  • Mar 6, 2013 - 9:21AM

    yet , there are no easy mechanism to trasfer payments and earnings back to Pakistan. No direct arrangement between banking sector and these sites exist.

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  • Syed Anwar
    Mar 6, 2013 - 9:43AM

    I’ve been earning a lot from Freelancer.com good job, we welcome more jobs in Pakistan!

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  • Mehboob
    Mar 6, 2013 - 11:55AM

    Dear Zain, I am earning from these sites since 2009. I have not earned a lot but I am able to make my ends meet. I would be the first person to try to clear my taxes, if they are due. But for your kind knowledge and to bring foreign exchange into country the government of Pakistan has waived income tax on software export. So the IT services which are exported out of country are not liable to income tax till 2016.

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  • Mar 6, 2013 - 12:04PM

    I have been earning on Freelancer for quite a long time myself. I actually used to be based on Vworker before it was acquired by Freelancer. It’s a great way to be independent and earn money without having to stick to regular work hours or long commutes. All you need is a good internet connection and some patience. I’ve started a blog for Pakistani freelancers @ ezrupeeonline.blogspot.com if anyone needs help getting an online job.

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  • Danish
    Mar 6, 2013 - 4:10PM

    @Mehboob: I seriously doubt what you have to say. The government may have agreed to waive taxes but it cannot be income tax. Any references please?

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  • Sonia K
    Mar 6, 2013 - 4:49PM

    @Muhammad:

    If you transfer your money to online bank accounts- you can then bring them to your own accounts in Pakistan. You need to make arrangements with your banks- ask them whether they operate with such online accounts. The movement of money across platforms costs you money so always transfer big amounts.

    The biggest problem with any such online working platforms is that till a certain amount your money is locked and you cannot move it. Atleast on Freelancer it is. Freelancer earns interest off your locked amount, just like any bank in Pakistan. But in Pakistan u r free to move the cash, on Freelancer either u re-invest it in the site(post a job) or you wait for it to be unlocked!!! Much like what Paypal does!!! :(

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  • Muhammad Farooq Gogan
    Mar 7, 2013 - 4:45PM

    It is an Excellent opportunity for those who are unemployed and very good chance to increase earnings for those who are employed but cannot meet their required daily/weekly/monthly expenses.

    Kind regards,
    Farooq Gogan

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  • Farrukh Ansari
    Mar 9, 2013 - 1:08PM

    @ Sonia K: They are just getting commission, if you dont like them leave it. I have never used freelancer to earn money (just surfed sometie ago) but very very glad to hear that foreign companies. Good luck pakistan….Well done Pakistani Intelligentsia.
    And There is a request for Investors / IT Workers: Pls get united and make a platform like paypall to sole the matter of online payments. if you sould be 3rd largest user of Freelancer, y cant u do tht….Pls do it, show your talent dont remain MUHTAAJ of foreign co/ pepl.

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  • Zeeshan
    Mar 14, 2013 - 1:03PM

    Freelancer are thieves, they have worst model. I have many bad experiences with them . They upgraded my membership to paid with out any notification and deducted $ from my account . No matter you earn or not they will charge you , Odesk is much better.

    NEVER USER Freelancer SITE

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  • Apr 6, 2013 - 1:40AM

    Hi,

    I am working on freelancer and other sites as a professional writer. Freelancer is costly as compared with other sites and it is also following a weak financial system. Fees are charged whether you make money or not. Weakness in their financial system is such that if you are paid by a client and that client commits some violation then the account of client would be closed and all the money paid to you would be taken without your permission. This is like theft and freelancer is acting like a thief in this case. Under such a policy there is no use of milestone system as even after payment freelancer takes money from account and say that it is their policy. With some improvements in financial system and reduction in costs freelancer is the best site for online jobs.

    Thanks.

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