Matt Cooper, Vice President of Marketplace Operations at oDesk came to Dhaka last Tuesday to join in ‘Contractor Appreciation Day‘ program organized by the company. The function was arranged in order to give special recognition to the Successful Freelancers from Bangladesh along with taking their opinions and letting them know about some new opportunities and advantages in freelance outsourcing sector.
I took initiative to arrange an interview of Matt Cooper about freelance outsourcing, oDesk and Bangladeshi freelancer. But, due to lacking of proper source to communicate with Matt; I had to go through the Media Communication department of oDesk. I got a quick response from them and a communication officer named Pall Dixon fixed me an way to communicate with Matt. An Interview time was scheduled for me and it was Thursday Morning of 11 A.M at Dhaka Regency Hotel Lobby.
As Hartal was executed that day, I was very much depressed about how to reach there. But the traffics and Vehicles circulations were normal and I had no problems to go to that Hotel Lobby in time. Within a very short time of reaching to Hotel, Matt Cooper and oDesk Contractor Appreciation Manager Monica Chua came to face the interview.
Firstly the Interview began about that Contractor Appreciation Day and I asked to know the aim of it. Matt replied- “Everybody works in our site online and they get rare chance to meet with each other. And this is why our freelancers share their updates about oDesk and their life by online. At the very first of January one of our freelancer tweeted about his jobs and other like minded freelancers joined on that discussion and started to share their opinions. We comprehended how much interested our freelancers are to share their own experiences with each other. And from there we assumed the necessity of arranging Contractor Appreciation Day. Then we started a poll online and most of the freelancers voted to Dhaka to arrange this function. We got more than 5 thousands vote in the side of Dhaka and this program is the result of that poll”.
oDesk Contractor Appreciation Manager Monica Chua replied me when I asked about how this program has been- “Bangladeshi contractors are awesomely energetic! All heard us eagerly and asked questions! We have also enjoyed their spontaneous participation and this delightful function especially”.
We also talked about the worldwide freelancing marketplaces. Matt said that, this kind of Freelance marketplace will reach to about 1 Billion Dollars Value at the end of this year. There are no regional limitations and this is why Freelancing arena is being expanded day by day. Recently we taken a survey and got that, more than 7 thousands private company are giving jobs to their local agents by using oDesk and 76% companies have came to our site in order to get their work done with a long term business attitude. And these companies think that, it will be a very normal trend at near future to get a job done online by a skilled contractor.
Contractors and Companies related opinion has been taken successfully. Then I asked them, what a skilled worker would achieve if they work as a freelancer rather than joining in any corporate office? Matt replied- “A freelancer is getting more advantages than a corporate job. They can work freely and if you consider the income rates, then a freelancer is earning more money than a traditional corporate job. According to a Survey of oDesk, freelancers increase their Hourly rate after each year of completing jobs successfully and this rate is about 60%. If a freelancer work as 10 USD per hour in first year then at next year they increase their rates to minimum of 16 USD per hour and this is never possible to any corporate office to increase salary like this”.
How Bangladeshi Freelancers are doing in oDesk? Matt replied-“We are observing an extraordinary performance of Bangladeshi Contractors. In the year of 2009, the Bangladesh freelancers only did 2% of total jobs and this rate has been increased to 12% this year. From January to April of this year, Bangladeshi freelancers have done more than 7 Lakh and 20 Thousands hours of work and the third quarter of Last year when Bangladeshi freelancers did 4 lakh hours of work and at the last quarter of that year it was about to 6 Lakh hours. That means, an additional 1 Lakh hours is being added at the end of every quarter of a year. We have also observed the development of skills of Bangladeshi Freelancers along with getting more jobs has been increased brilliantly. Especially they are working more on Products Selling and Marketing related jobs and we are expecting that Bangladeshi Freelancers will work about 28 Lakhs of Hours this year”.
I was feeling very much proud as a Bangladeshi after hearing such awesome talks about the development of Bangladeshi Guys in the Freelance Outsourcing sector. I wanted to know about what type of jobs Bangladeshi freelancers are doing in oDesk? Matt replied- “Data Entry and Search Engine Optimization works are done hugely and 42% of total jobs are in this category now. Besides of it, they are also working jobs like Web Development, Web Design, Graphic image Editing & manupulation Software Development and Client Support”.
We have occupied more than 12% of total Jobs from this Billion Dollar marketplace; but how we can enlarge the number? How to increase the total earning amount of Bangladeshi freelancers? Matt replied-“In this issue, I will suggest to develop the Skills. Basically, the project expenses are more on Web development and Software Development jobs. And these kinds of Jobs have been occupied by India and various countries of Europe. In this case Bangladeshi Freelancers must have to involve in these types of Jobs too. And there is no sacrifice with the Skills Development here. It has been seen that, where a Bangladeshi freelancer is charging 3 to 5 dollar per hour for a SEO related jobs, a web developer from USA is charging 30 to 100 Dollar per hour at the same time. And I will suggest to Bangladeshi freelancers to develop their skills on that sectors too.
As oDesk is getting some pleasant and huge positive feedbacks from the Bangladeshi Freelancers; will you take any initiative to arrange any Skill Development Program for them? – I asked to Matt. He Said- “Actually we publish various tips and tutorials in online very often. We have Forums and Blogs and a freelancer can develop their skills from there. Besides, we have also given various tips of best practices to develop their skills at this Contractor Appreciation Day. But we don’t have any plan to arrange a direct skills development program here in Bangladesh”.
I had a talk with Shaon Bhuiyan (An Award Winning Freelancer by Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services-BASIS) on the Contractor Appreciation Day. He accused that “there are various freelance marketplace (Like elance.com) where the minimum worker value is fixed to $3 but there is no such minimum cost fixed in oDesk”. I raised this topic while I was interviewing Matt. He replied- “A Worker fix their rate according to their Skills. And the project is initiated if they both (buyer and contractor) are agreed. We don’t have any plan to fix a minimum worker cost at this time. It’s all upto two parties”.
Freelancer Neo Tanvir Ahmed accused that – “oDesk only provides security of payments for the work which is in hourly based. But they don’t provide any security to the fixed priced jobs and this is why lots of freelancers have been in trap of cheating for some projects”. When I raised this topic, Matt Replied-“Actually, most of the freelancers are doing jobs for a long term basis. We are encouraging the workers to work in hourly rate”.
I couldn’t realize how the hour of Interview has been over while I was talking with Matt. At the last stage of the interview I talked about various cheater companies run in Bangladesh by the name of Freelance Outsourcing. Matt replied –“Yes! We have heard that some Scam sites are running here in Bangladesh as the name of Freelance Outsourcing. I will say that, in order to maintain the continuous development and the existent good position in this Billion Dollar Marketplace; the Bangladesh government should take proper initiatives locally. We always work to enlarge the public awareness in online and you the Bangladeshi people should work to increase the public awareness too. If you people can’t stop these Scam cheaters; the newcomers will find this Freelancing Marketplace a tragic obstacle”.
Photo Credit: Lutfor Rahman