Freelancing has become a desirable career for many in Bangladesh. The country has created certain space for capturing largely untapped markets of freelancing, outsourcing, and e-commerce.
To document this process, the ICT division and Bangladesh Freelancer Development Society (BFDS) have taken an initiative to create a database of the local freelancers. They’ve planned to provide them with a digital card called ‘Free ID’ which they can use for financial activities and other professional matters.
The government has decided to provide “virtual cards” to freelancers. This recognises over 650,000 professionals in Bangladesh. This will also enable them to get bank loans and high-tech working facilities.
The talent pool of technical graduates and freelancers can help these individuals to emerge as entrepreneurs and effective workforce in the coming days. The self-identification they receive through this card will help them thrive in an atmosphere in which they might not have been properly appreciated.
Nothing of the sort exists anywhere in the world – not even in the country of immigrants, the US, which, however, does have laws to regulate freelancers’ activities. Such a policy is absent in Bangladesh.
Freelancers need to meet some legal requirements for working outside organizational structure. Such reality may confuse or discourage newcomers. They need to make sure that there is no violation of laws. They need to be transparent as well. Documents of projects and contracts need to be preserved to prove their authenticity. A legal professional may also be consulted for checking if there is any harmful clause in the contract.
However, the closest thing to virtual freelance cards comes from the International Press Federation (IPF), an organisation which works for journalists and media professionals all around the world. It offers two types of memberships: Anybody working in this industry can make use of such membership and even part-time or freelance journalists can do so.
Members can take advantage of their networks. They can publish their work in front of a wide and versatile audience. They receive invitations to highly acclaimed events.
Freelancing offers flexibility. In developed countries, they must abide by certain regulations to pay income taxes. They can reduce their tax liability by deducting allowable expenses.
In Bangladesh, there are legal issues that affect jobs and status of the freelancers. Many of their deals are done through verbal agreements. Some of these transactions remain untracked.
The global market size of the freelancing currently stands at $1.5 trillion, according to a government adviser who regretted that Bangladesh claims only $100 million of it. However, remittances earned by freelancers might be higher.
Mainly the youths are working in this sector. The government wants to bring all freelancers on a single platform for giving them recognition and credibility that they deserve.
A government-mandated identification for freelancers will give them accreditation, career growth, personal branding, and eligibility for credit and transactions.
The distribution of these virtual ID cards will begin in January next year. Freelancers will now be able to identify themselves with a profession that meets their skillsets. The government also plans to provide facilities to freelancers to help increase their standing in the global market.
According to MahfuzurRahman, the General Secretary of BFDS, the information of freelancers will be fixed on the card with a QR code. This card will also enable the regulators to determine the financial position of the freelancer in the industry.
This recognition will encourage them to work for the betterment of the economy. They can now seek solution to some other problems that include infrastructure deficiencies, lack of financial intermediaries, and restricting foreign exchange policies.
Also, all freelancers would not have to migrate to urban locations to find work. With this identification, they can seek local opportunities and partnership with Bangladeshi entrepreneurs. Of course, they will get better-paid projects.
Whereas more than 650,000 individuals are working in this industry, only around 200,000 freelancers can earn a stable income. With a dedicated ID card, they will be able to demonstrate their expertise to employers and bargain for better pays.
The writer is a freelance content strategist and owner of Fraktal Creative, a global copywriting agency for websites.