By Special Correspondent
Since the onset of the twenty first century, unemployment has remained one of the most debated subjects across the globe. This is aggravated by factors such as occupational immobility, economic recession as witnessed in the United States in 2008, as well as increased number of students leaving colleges to the labor market.
Currently in Kenya, unemployment rate is about 40 percent. Accordingly, unemployed graduates are searching for alternative jobs in order to fulfill their dreams. Against this backdrop, online outsourcing, viewed as key to overcome geographical immobility affecting the labor market, has been embraced both in developed and developing economies.
Online outsourcing is defined as “the business process of contracting third-party providers (often overseas) to supply products or services which are delivered and paid for via the internet”. It has been proved that online outsourcing has opened opportunities for freelancers to access and compete in global job markets, provided that they have access to a computer and Internet connection. There are various jobs which outsourcing companies avail to freelancers including web development, online marketing and freelance writing.
Online marketing has gained pace in the recent past. This is based on the premise that, as compared to the traditional forms of marketing, online marketing through social media sites is much less costly and effective. Online marketers are responsible for advertising and promoting products and services offered by companies through the internet.
Web Development and Web Content Writing
Companies across the world are outsourcing web developers who are responsible for search engine optimization (SEO) and creating programming codes. It is also worth noting that, web content articles written by online writers, is key to driving traffic to particular websites.
This is one of the most notable forms of outsourcing known by majority of college and university graduates in Kenya. In academic writing, freelance writers mainly professionals in a particular field help students develop different types of academic papers such as thesis, dissertations, essays, and research articles. In most cases, students (both local and international) seeking such services have tight class and working schedule.
Impact on the Global Economy
As aforementioned, online jobs are possible as along as a person can be able to access a computer and internet. This has been key in ensuring increased opportunities in non-convectional financial empowerment. Due to the popularity of online jobs especially in developing countries, the revenue generated from online outsourcing has been on the increase.
According to a report by the World Bank, it was estimated that the total gross revenue generated from global online outsourcing platforms in 2013 was $2 billion, led by companies such as Freelancer, Zhubajie/Witmart, Upwork and oDesk among others. It is projected that, in 2016, online freelancing will be worth $ 4.8 billion (Ksh. 448 billion) with countries such as Pakistan and India leading the pack. Globally, there are more than 47.8 million registered online workers, where at least 10% of this figure works on a full time basis. Generally, this figure is expected to increase drastically going forward and generate gross service revenue of approximately $15-20 billion by 2020.
Africa has a small representation as far as the number of online workers is concerned. South Africa and Kenya are the market leaders in the continent. As indicated by CloudFactory, an online company whose main mission is to connect people in developing economies to digital-age work, online workers from Kenya are known in doing thorough job as far as audio transcription is concerned, while those in Nepal better suited to data entry tasks.
Sam Walter Gioko, aged 29 years and working for writershub.org notes that, freelance writing has offered him relief from job search. Having graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) from Egerton University, he has been able to earn a salary of between ksh 20,000 and 30,000 per month from academic writing. Similar sentiments were shared by Nancy Kagwiria Mugendi, who graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from Kenyatta University in 2011. According to her, lack of job in the formal sector made her to start working online. In addition to being a housewife, she is able to multitask between work and house duties, thus giving her work freedom as well as a constant flow of income.
It is worth noting that, with increased number of graduates joining the job market and with lower chances of getting a formal job, the number of individuals working as online freelancers is estimated to increase, not only in Kenya, but also across the world.
However, while online outsourcing can be a certain way to self-employment and financial security, it requires discipline as well as affordable connectivity.