Noakhali's Romana Islam, a mother of three, was a housewife. Taking training on digital marketing, she has recently started outsourcing.
She works for a US-based jewellery company ShineOn. Romana promotes the products through posting advertisements on Facebook.
She earned Tk30,925 – extra money to the family income – in October
Ontor Bhowmik, now a degree student at Kabirhat Government College, is from an ultra-poor family. He would meet his educational expenses by giving tuition.
Passing Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations, Ontor took training from a non-government institution on outsourcing and started freelancing.
He works for an Indian company Ayur, which he found on e-commerce website JVZoo. Ontor promotes Ayur's facial mask and weight loss products by sending an e-mail to targeted customers. First, he finds the customers by an email finder software and then sends an email, describing and highlighting the products.
Ontor now earns Tk15,000 to Tk20,000 from outsourcing.
Apart from the unemployed youths, some government service holders are also involved in freelancing in Noakhali. Jamshed Hossain of Hatiya upazila is one of them.
Jamshed, a computer operator at the District Manpower and Employment Office, started outsourcing in his spare time. He works on social marketing and earns Tk35,000 to Tk40,000 per month.
The computer operator gets contracts of promoting any service provider from Upwork, an online freelancing market place. He ensures that the company or organisation he works for is shown on top of the list on google when anybody searches for that. He does it using search engine optimisation (SEO) programme.
The freelancer said they faced a lot of issues at the beginning. The slow speed of internet and its high price, lack of adequate training and absence of easy online payment system like PayPal were the main barriers. But now new freelancers are emerging in the district, he said.
Outsourcing is when someone does a job for a local or foreign company on a contractual basis through online from home.
The most commonly outsourced jobs are accounting, web design and development, data entry, call centre and customer support.
In Noakhali, many people like Romana, Ontor and Jamshed have been meeting their family and personal expenses through outsourcing. They work for different companies based in the UK and the US. Their areas of work are graphics, animation, web design, data entry and online marketing.
No government office in the district has any information about the persons involved in outsourcing. However, some top outsourcers of the district said, the profession started there in 2015.
Monir Hossain, founder of the non-government organisation Green Touch IT that works on outsourcing, said more than 500 persons of different ages in Noakhali were now involved in outsourcing.
He said after learning about the income from outsourcing, many started getting interested in it and took training on different areas of outsourcing.
The part-time freelancers in the district earned Tk16,945 per month on an average and the full-timers earned Tk33,890 to Tk42,363 monthly, he said.
Some freelancers said the training was essential for making a good amount of money from freelancing. But only a few government and non-government organisations provide training on outsourcing. Noakhali Youth Development Training Centre conducts a two-month training programme thrice a year and organises seven-day workshops in different upazilas.
At the non-government level, two organisations – Aptech IT and Green Touch IT – provide training on outsourcing. They conduct three-month and six-month training programmes.
Monir Hossain said he started providing training on outsourcing in 2015 with a few trainees. The trainees would enrol in the programme if they were given a guarantee of income. Now, this type of guarantee is not required, he said.
Monir said 600 people had taken training from his organisation in the last five years, many of them being housewives. They do outsourcing in their spare time and add extra money to their family incomes.
Abdur Rouf Mondal, additional deputy commissioner (Education and ICT) of Noakhali, told The Business Standard that the district's freelancers could not be brought under government registration as yet. So they have no information about their incomes.
However, Abdur Rouf said all freelancers would be brought under the registration by 2020.