Marketing professional Sanjida Khandoker's career suffered a great setback when she became a full-time mother. She put her career on hold to perform her responsibilities as a mother properly. That experience made her realise that a majority of the working women in Bangladesh put an end to their career at some point in their life.
Witnessing this social setback, Sanjida invested her years of experience to build a platform for women so that they can work from home. From this thought, The2hourjob, the country's first online job marketplace for women, was born in 2018.
When work from home is the new normal during the on-going pandemic, Sanjida, as a true visionary, created the platform for women as a modern way of remote working two years ago.
The2hourjob platform offers jobs for women, which can be done from home. Jobs are categorised in different sections on the website.
Starting from writing blogs to making websites, audio and video support, research and analysis, programming and technology, professional and creative writing, business support to legal support – all can be found on The2hourjob.
Anyone can create an employer's account and post a job there. On the other hand, jobseekers can register, open an account and browse jobs which are categorised on the menu at the top of the website.
Then, jobseekers can post their proposal for a particular job on its view page. They need to fill out a form that requires information on how they want to get paid by the employers.
Before launching her own start-up, Sanjida worked in branding and marketing industry. As a business graduate, she had worked in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), telecoms and public service organisations for a few years.
"I was then a new mother and had just quit my job to become a full-time parent. I do believe every girl should think that way," said Sanjida while talking with The Business Standard about her dilemma regarding career and motherhood.
"This is a very turbulent time and an unavoidable dilemma when a girl has to choose between motherhood and career. But why cannot a girl have it all? I asked myself this question and wanted to find the answer. And the best answer I got at the time was a girl can work from anywhere."
As soon as she realised this, Sanjida tried to find a platform so that she could work from home. But it was not an easy quest. Sanjida did not give up. Instead, when she discovered that there was no local platform for women to find work for two to three hours, she decided to build one.
"In 2017, I started working on my dream and finally launched The2hourjob in 2018," recalled an aspirant Sanjida.
Coming from a business background and getting into a tech product was not an easy transition for her.
She said, "I had to study every day, and dig deep into facts before I made a decision. But yes, the business aspect of it was much easier for me. But getting used to the technical side of it was a challenge at that time."
Talking about the challenges she faced in her journey in the beginning, Sanjida said, "Getting the right team and having the first source of fund was a difficult journey. Besides, when things are in the shape of an idea, it is difficult for you to make people believe in you."
"Luckily, I had a supportive family who believed in me. I am also thankful to my friends who came forward with the early stage research we conducted. With every step, there are some challenges in the founding years, but I knew I would figure those out and make it through."
Bangladesh Intellectual Property Forum, Unilever brand Vim, and Ogilvy partnered with The2hourjob.
The website currently has more than 5,000 users. Employers can find services like marketing, research, digital and IT support from the platform.
"We have a very interactive website and strong framework for women to find jobs. Every professional woman can open their account here and apply to jobs which are posted on our site," Sanjida said.
She explained, "Layoffs and salary cuts are going on everywhere due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was already a difficult thing for women to have equal job opportunities and after the pandemic, the job sector itself will be under pressure."
Sanjida said they have two mega solutions for the people at this stage. "Number one, we offer employees the chance to work from their own workstations, be it at home or not. This not only makes it mobile, but also saves the cost of workstations and gadgets and monthly maintenance for the companies."
"Secondly, we offer employees a very economic rate. It is a big saver. Everyone needs to operate in a less expensive manner. So, the platform is an easy solution for them. But whether someone will get a job or not will depend on their profile," stated Sanjida while talking about how the platform is helping women find jobs during the ongoing pandemic.
When asked if the website is getting more traffic now, Sanjida explained, "We certainly do. In fact, we believe this is the high time we embraced remote working and also let our women work while they continue their journey as great mothers and housewives."
She said, "Because of the pandemic, people are spending more time online than usual. We are ordering food and clothes online. Even our education system has become online dependent. Then why not work online?"
"In fact, working in digital spaces has less gender bias than in a workplace. Because when you are working remotely and the entire work is dependent on devices and tools, the human aspect becomes less important and no gender bias comes into play. We hope we keep doing it for the greater interest of our country," she added.