Even few years ago, Bangladeshi freelancers did not have any mentionable place in the global arena, while freelancers from India were earning billions of dollars by offering services to thousands of clients from around the world. For the past couple of years, stake of Bangladeshi freelancers have significantly decreased while there is growth in the number of freelancers from India.
According to 2020 report of the International Labor Organization (ILO), while in 2018 freelancers from India were having 26 percent of the stake in the sector, the number had jumped to 33 percent in 2020. At the same time, ILO report said, while Bangladeshi freelancers were Bangladeshi freelancers were having 20 percent stake in the sector in 2018, it has dropped to 13 percent in 2020. The position of Pakistani freelancers are slightly below Bangladesh.
ILO report said, freelancers from Singapore and Israel are dominating the sector, while there are significant presence of freelancers from the US, Australia, Canada, Britain, the Philippines, and Germany.
According to Internet Institute of the Oxford University, over 58 percent of Indians are working on software development and IT related technologies as freelancers. Bangladeshi freelancers have only 15 percent presence. Online Index places Indian freelancers at top position and Bangladeshi freelancers in second position.
Bangladesh government’s ICT Division said, there are currently almost six hundred thousand freelancers who are earning at least 100 million dollars every year. Out of this number, around 150-200 thousand are working full time.
But, according to experts, the number of freelancers from Bangladesh are totally based on assumption. According to a 2017 study conducted by the Oxford University, there are around 650,000 freelancers from Bangladesh.
According to freelancers, they receive payment through online gateway, which is processed by a local private financial institution named Bank Asia. They said, major segment of their earning reach Bangladesh through this channel.
According to Bank Asia’s 2019 report, it has processed US$194 million in that year.
Freelancers said, they have to spend up to US$ 400 for buying tools, which is required for receiving payments. They also need to pay US$1,000-1,500 to servers. But, according to existing rules of the Bangladesh Bank, freelancers can spend only US$300 from their credit card, which is not sufficient either for buying tools or making payments to servers. They have requested the government to enable the freelancers to use at least fifty percent of their total earnings in foreign currency through credit cards. Once this is done, freelancers will bring total amount of their earnings to Bangladesh. They also have called upon the government to introduce incentives to the freelancers, who already are contributing to country’s foreign exchange earnings.
Another source said, the amount of annual earning by Bangladeshi freelancers would cross US$ 500 million.