Pakistan Digital Gig Economy Surged 69% Amid COVID19 Pandemic

Pakistan's digital gig economy has surged 69% during the COVID19 pandemic, putting the country among the world's top 4 hottest online freelancer markets, reports  Payoneer, a global payments platform company based in Silicon Valley, in its latest report. Payoneer attributes it to government programs such as Punjab government's e Rozgaar program that has been offering free online courses in digital freelancing. The sudden rush to learn skills online boosted the demand for instructors. The Pakistan government filled this demand by hiring alumni of programs like e Rozgaar who were successfully participating in the gig economy.

Punjab government's e-rozgaar program logo

After a brief dip in January 2020, the demand for freelancers took off in February and increased by double digits each month starting in March until June when it surged 47% at the time the data was compiled by Payoneer for its report.“ Likewise, this response is reflected in the revenue figures where freelancing continued to grow year-on-year but temporarily slowing from 21 per cent growth in March to 16 per cent growth in May,” the report noted. e-Rozgaar’s latest group of graduates earned the highest ever income for a new class of the program--earning over Rs. 25 million in three months during the Covid-19 lockdown. PITB Chairman Azfar Manzoor told Profit magazine that e-Rozgaar was playing a pivotal role in curbing youth unemployment. 

Online Freelance Revenue Surge in Pakistan. Source: Payoneer

“One factor that goes a long way to explain this is that in April, local government authorities took the initiative to rapidly shut down educational institutes as a way to contain the spread of the virus,” the report said, adding that this led to the development of a new online education system and as part of this initiative, government training programs, such as e-Rozgaar, expanded its services throughout the country, offering people a new way to enhance their professional capabilities. “The mission was to help expedite freelancing skills for thousands and enable them to earn a living in the most in-demand fields and ultimately lead to a higher employment rate,” the report highlighted.

A global survey conducted by Payoneer, shows that Pakistani women freelancers are earning $22 an hour, 10% more than the $20 an hour earned by men. While Pakistani male freelancers earnings are at par with global average, Pakistani female earnings are higher than the global average for freelancers. Digital gig economy is not only helping women earn more than men but it is also reducing barriers to women's labor force participation in the country. The survey also concludes that having a university degree does not help you earn more in the growing gig economy. The survey was conducted in 2015.

Freelancers Hourly Rate by Gender. Source: Payoneer


An average Pakistani freelancer working 34 hours a week at $20 an hour earns $34,000 a year, or Rs. 5.7 million a year, a small fortune for a young Pakistani. This is one of the upsides of the online global labor market for skilled young men and women in developing nations like Pakistan. Sometimes freelancing experience leads to tech startups in Pakistan.

Another interesting survey finding is that freelancers with a university degree earn about 10% less on average than those with just the high-school diploma. This indicates that the freelancers skills matter more than the level of formal education.

Average Hourly Rate by Education. Source: Payoneer

Payoneer surveyed 23,000 freelancers worldwide, including emerging markets such as Pakistan, the Philippines and the Ukraine. Survey respondents comprise a random sample of Payoneer’s cross-border payment platform users, providing unique insights into how these globally-enabled freelancers operate, what makes them successful and what rates they command.

Freelancers Average Work Week. Source: Payoneer 

Pakistani freelancers worked about 34 hours a week, a little less than the 36 hours global average. Indian freelancers log 37.4 hours a week and Bangladeshis 35.9 hours weekly. Freelancers from Kenya average the highest amount of hours per week (42.6) with Egypt coming in second (38.5). Professionals working in Morocco and Tunisia work the fewest hours per week, potentially as a high percentage of them are also working at companies as well

Pakistan's digital gig economy growth is the fastest in Asia and fourth fastest in the world, according to digital payments platform Payoneer.

Gig Economy Growth in Q2/2019. Source: Payoneer
United States led gig economy growth of 78% followed by the United Kingdom 59%, Brazil 48%, Pakistan 47% and Ukraine 36%. Asia growth was led by Pakistan followed by Philippines (35%) , India  (29%) and Bangladesh (27%).

The rapid gig economy expansion of 47% in Pakistan  was fueled by several factors including the country's very young population 70% of which is under 30 years of age coupled with improvements in science and technical education and expansion of high-speed broadband access.  Pakistani freelancers under the age of 35 generated 77% of the revenue in second quarter of 2019.

Growth in Freelance Work. Source: Payoneer

Mohsin Muzaffar, head of business development at Payoneer in Pakistan, has said as follows: "Government investment in enhancing digital skills has helped create a skilled freelancer workforce while blanket 4G coverage across Pakistan has given freelancers unprecedented access to
international jobs".

Global Freelance Revenue By Age. Source: Payoneer. 


In Q2/2019, Asia cemented its status as a freelancer hub.  Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, Philippines made it to the  top 10 list, collectively recording 238% increase from Q2/2018.


Online Labor Index. Source: Oxford Internet Institute

Silicon Valley based global payments platform Payoneer has reported that Pakistan's digital gig economy has surged 69% during the COVID19 pandemic, putting the country among the world's top 4 hottest online freelancer markets. A global survey results on freelancing show that Pakistani women freelancers are earning $22 an hour, 10% more than the $20 an hour earned by men. While Pakistani male freelancers earnings are at par with global average, Pakistani female earnings are higher than the global average for freelancers.   The survey also concludes that having a university degree does not help you earn more in growing gig economy. The survey was conducted in 2015. As of 2017, Pakistan freelancers ranked fourth in the world and accounted for 8.5% of the global online workforce, according to Online Labor Index compiled by Oxford Internet Institute. India led with 24% share followed by Bangladesh 16%, US 12%, Pakistan 8.5% and Philippines 6.5%.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on October 10, 2020 at 10:25pm

#Japan to boost efforts to recruit #Pakistan tech workers. Amb Matsuda said in Tokyo there are 300,000 well-trained information technology engineers in Pakistan, both countries will assign officials in embassies to facilitate #tech labor.- The Mainichi

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201008/p2g/00m/0bu/106000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and Pakistan plan to intensify coordination so Japan can accept technology workers from the South Asian country amid a chronic shortage of workers skilled in information technology, according to the Japanese ambassador to Pakistan.

Kuninori Matsuda, in a recent interview in Tokyo, said there are 300,000 well-trained information technology engineers in Pakistan, and that the two countries will each assign officials in their embassies to facilitate the movement of tech labor.

The ambassador said Pakistan will soon post a diplomat in its embassy in Tokyo to handle tech labor, while the Japanese Embassy in Islamabad will increase staff to connect Japanese companies interested in hiring tech workers with Pakistanis who want to work in Japan. The embassy will also help with visa-related work.

"There's a huge need for them, mainly among small and midsize companies that, despite their willingness to embrace IT, are finding it hard to source workers," Matsuda said.

Following the recent launch of a new government led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Pakistan is looking forward to continuing to make progress with Japan in "dialogue and cooperation in a wide array of areas," the ambassador said.

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“We are about to open working visa for skilled Pakistan workers. We are planning to hire Pakistani skilled workers in good numbers. We need skilled workers, as our population is shrinking by each passing day. We are to sign an MOU with the Pakistan government in a month’s time, enabling the Pakistan skilled workers to have indefinite visa of Japan,” the ambassador said.

Kuninori said Pakistan was one of the 10 top countries from where Japan was planning to hire workers. ”We need skilled workers from Pakistan, as Pakistanis working there in Japan arevery devoted, honest and skilled and are contributing to the country’s development.”

The ambassador however said that for skilled people there was need to learn Japanese language. “Knowing Japanese language would be a must. It is one of the easiest languages around and easy to get used to.”

He said those who successfully get the visa and pass their first five years in Japan, would be eligible to take along their families with them. A high level exchanges by a prime minister and president would soon be materliased.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/543135-new-work-visas-pakistan-amo...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 12, 2020 at 8:24am

Founded by 3 #Pakistanis (Talha Ansari, Muhammad Nowkhaiz & Wahaj Ahmed), Retailo raises $2.3 million pre-seed for its B2B #ecommerce marketplace in Saudi & Pakistan to help 10 million SMEs retailers in #MiddleEast, North #Africa & #Pakistan https://www.menabytes.com/retailo-pre-seed/ via @MENAbytes

Talha Ansari, Muhammad Nowkhaiz, and Wahaj Ahmed; who previously worked with Careem, Rocket Internet, Daraz, and McKinsey, Retailo wants to empower over 10 million SMEs in the retail sector of the Middle East, North Africa & Pakistan with the use of technology and real-time data. Its marketplace enables will enable the retailer to procure inventory for their stores.

Retailo is starting with small grocery stores in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan which it says is a $100 billion opportunity. It had apparently launched in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi a few months ago and has recently launched in Riyadh too. The startup said that it will focus on Saudi as its home market.

“Retailo’s technology and operations combine to deliver a strong value proposition to retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers. It is focused on offering SMEs competitive pricing; a one-stop-shop to discover products and the ability to order whatever they need, whenever they need,” said the startup in a statement.

The biggest highlight of the startup is its team. Talha Ansari, according to the statement was the youngest CEO at Foodpanda (Pakistan), at the age of 25. He later worked with Careem as Senior Director Operations helping the company scale its last-mile delivery business in Saudi. Mohammad Nowkhaiz, prior to founding Retailo was Head of Strategy at Careem and spearheaded company’s super app strategy post-Uber acquisition. Wahaj Ahmed is a former McKinsey consultant who was the youngest Careem GM at 25 and grew company’s business in Karachi by 10x in eight months, claims the statement.

The three founders commenting on the occasion, said, “We strongly believe in creating impact in the lives of people by giving them opportunities to improve their earning potential. The MENAP region has a significant opportunity to increase its economic prosperity by unlocking the productivity delta that exists between the region and global benchmarks. MENAP is home to 700 million individuals & 10 million SMEs; and its unorganized retail sector presents the perfect opportunity to increase the efficiency of supply chain by utilizing technology and real-time data.”

Interestingly, their competition in both Saudi and Pakistan includes startups founded by Careem alumni. Sary, the leading Saudi player in the space is co-founded and led by Mohammed Aldossary, a former Careem general manager. It closed a $6.6 million Series A earlier this year. Bazaar, the Pakistani B2B ecommerce platform that raised $1.3 million pre-seed earlier this year is co-founded by Saad Jangda, who was one of the founding members of Careem Now. Dastgyr, another Pakistani startup going after the same market also has Careem alumni as its co-founders.

Shane Shin, the Founding Partner of Shorooq Partners thinks that Retailo is led by exceptional founders, “Seed stage investing is all about backing the right people. We have looked at this space deeply and are proud to invest in the dream team behind Retailo who we believe can successfully build a strong, regional and international business.”

Khailee Ng, Managing Partner, 500 Durian, said, “While they operate one of the fastest-scaling business models in the world, their success means millions of SMEs and rural populations are more productive and have more stability and food security. Technology can
impact the next billion, and we’re already seeing it here with what Retailo had been doing.”

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