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Pakistan Ranks Among World's Top Outsourcing Destination Countries

Pakistan ranks number 3, after US (#1) and India (#2), in terms of freelancers doing outsourced IT work on contract. Bangladesh ranks fourth, according to data from four biggest online outsourcing sites:  Elance.com, oDesk.com, Freelancer.com, and Guru.com.



The data also shows that US, Australia and the UK as the top hiring countries.

All four websites work in a similar way: First, companies post job requirements on these sites. Next, freelancers or IT-companies offer their bids with skills and cost for the project listed on the website. Finally, the company chooses the best bid meeting its job requirements.




Recently, Freelacers.com, one of the top four online marketplaces, said there are 240,000 freelance Pakistanis registered as providers on its website.



With more than 30 million internet subscribers, five million plus broadband users and a population nearing 200 million, according to Freelancer executive Adam Byrnes, it makes sense to have a presence in Pakistan.

“Going forward, we want to provide self-employment for a billion people, a significant portion of that is going to come from Pakistan,” he told Express Tribune.


In addition to having a large population, Pakistan has seen its human capital grow significantly over the last decade.  With nearly 16% of its population in 25-34 years age group having
college degrees, Pakistan is well ahead of India and Indonesia,
according to Global Education Digest 2009 published by UNESCO Institute of Statistics. UNESCO data also shows that Pakistan's lead is growing with younger age groups.


Faster economic growth requires BOTH skilled manpower and investment of dollars as Pakistanis saw during Musharraf years. Regardless, the growth of human capital is a good thing to build a
foundation for Pakistan's future. It'll contribute to economic growth
when the security situation improves and FDI returns to Pakistan. The
country's large diaspora too will be helpful in accelerating Pakistan's growth and development with money and skills. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Pakistan Among Top Outsourcing Destinations

Pakistan's IT Industry

Pakistan's Software Prodigy

Biotech and Genomics in Pakistan

India & Pakistan Comparison Update 2011

India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2010
 
Eating Grass-The Making of Pakistani Bomb
 
Educational Attainment Dataset By Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee

Quality of Higher Education in India and Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Pakistan's Story After 64 Years of Independence

Pakistan Ahead of India on Key Human Development Indices

Views: 1662

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 7, 2013 at 4:47pm

Here's an earlier post I did back in 2009 on this phenomenon:

Menlo Park, California based oDesk has ranked the Philippines and Pakistan as the top two outsourcing destinations in terms of growth, value for money and customer feedback.

oDesk helps its clients with tools, technologies and services to hire and manage remote work teams. Other companies in its category, including Elance, Guru and RentACoder, create marketplaces in which employers and freelancers can contact one another. These sites often manage the payments, and make money by charging membership fees and/or take a cut of the payment. The cuts can range from 4 percent to 15 percent.

According to oDesk, Pakistan experienced 328% growth in its outsourcing business in 2007-8, second only to the Philippines (789%) on a list of seven top locations that include US (260%), Canada (121%), India (113%), the Ukraine (77%) and Russia (43%).

Pakistan ranks number one in value for money for developers and data entry and number two overall behind the Philippines where the cost of answering calls is about half of the cost in Pakistan. Pakistan is well ahead of India and just behind the number 1 ranked United States in customer satisfaction.

The growth of outsourcing within the US and Canada as well as the high customer satisfaction data for North America are particularly noteworthy. It seems to indicate that more and more North American companies are showing preference for outsourcing close to home. New technology appears to be helping close the cost gap between North America and the rest of the top seven outsourcing destinations.

In addition to oDesk's view of Pakistan as a preferred outsourcing destination, Gartner, in its 2008 report ‘Analysis of Pakistan as an Offshore Service Location’ said the major factor behind upgrading Pakistan to first tier status for outsourcing is the lower salaries and better infrastructure advantages than other offshore destinations. “The salaries of IT professionals in Pakistan are approximately 30% lower than those in India, while telecommunication costs are also lower as compared to any other offshore locations, which make Pakistan an attractive outsourcing destination.”

oDesk says that "the results … the Philippines and Pakistan rank the highest in this admittedly simplistic analysis, which must be taken with a grain of salt." It adds, "There are many factors to be taken into consideration when hiring contractors to your workteams. But, in the meantime, congratulations to providers in these two countries for topping the list! Fans of outsourcing to the Philippines and Pakistan will also be glad to know that they were also the fastest growing countries on oDesk, by hours worked, from 2007-2008."

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/01/pakistan-ranks-among-top-outsourcing...

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 15, 2013 at 10:17pm

Here's Express Tribune on IT contractors in Pakistan:

..From business process outsourcing to developing smartphone apps, Pakistani IT professionals are seem to be going after every opportunity, especially in the online job market, to bring home valuable foreign exchange.

In high demand, Pakistani IT professionals are growing significantly on oDesk, a Silicon valley-based online marketplace, in terms of both revenues and subscriptions to the platform.

“Pakistan is one of our largest contractor bases, and it is growing steadily,” CEO Gary Swart said in reply to queries through email. Contractors in Pakistan earned almost $1.5 million on oDesk in January 2012 alone, he said. “That figure is more than double the $700,000 they earned in January 2011, which is really an impressive growth!”

In January 2012, Swart said, more than 4,500 contractors from Pakistan signed up for oDesk, which enables businesses to hire, manage and pay a flexible online workforce, representing significant growth over previous months.

The top five categories of oDesk that work in Pakistan, according to the CEO, are web programming, web design, search engine optimisation, software development and mobile apps.

“In these five categories alone, contractors from Pakistan earned $796,000 in January 2012.” The number of Pakistani professionals that sign up for oDesk is growing steadily at a rate of 11% month over month, he added.

As seen from the top five job categories for Pakistani contractors, Swart said, there is certainly a large demand for their IT skills on the oDesk marketplace – which was the seventh fastest-growing company of Silicon Valley in 2011, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

oDesk, according to Swart, is world’s largest online marketplace – as measured by dollars earned by contractors each month – and has 1.6 million registered contractors where 120,000 new jobs are posted each month. Contractors earned more than $225 million on oDesk last year, he said.

IT services are definitely a sweet spot for the oDesk marketplace in general, Swart said. The top two job categories on oDesk overall – web development and software development – together make up more than half of the total earnings on the platform, and demand for IT skills continues to grow rapidly.

Pakistan’s IT industry, according to Pakistan Software Export Board, has seen steady growth over the last few years despite sluggish economic growth – thanks to the online job market.

IT and IT-enabled services exports stood between $560 million and $860 million last year, according to former managing director of PSEB Imran Zia. On a Y-o-Y basis, the IT sector has been growing at 15% to 20% for the last three years and the growth in 2011 was about 15%. The future outlook for Pakistani IT professionals looks promising as IT jobs are in high demand on oDesk, where subscription rate of Pakistani contractors is growing steadily.

“IT jobs are our most in-demand category – which means we have significantly more IT opportunities for contractors from all countries, Pakistan included,” Swart said. “So we believe that we have more Pakistani IT professionals than any other online work marketplace,” he added.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/338556/pakistani-it-professionals-in-hi...

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 28, 2013 at 10:35am

Here's ET on web start-ups in Pakistan:

The answer: remittances. Pakistan receives $13-14 billion annually from external sources. Compare that to the total it collects in taxes, which is around $10 billion. You can see for yourself what accounts for more in the economy.
Payments from abroad usually take two channels: they either come from Pakistanis working overseas, or they come through our relatively small, yet gigantic-in-effect, web start-up industry. This industry comprises businesses and freelancers that globally outsource their services, and includes names such as Sofizar Constellations, Naseeb Networks (Rozee.pk), TradeKey and others. Sofizar alone makes around $15 million per year, and TradeKey.com is the second biggest business-to-business sales portal in the world, following alibaba.com. One of the world’s best online affiliate marketer, Faisalabad’s Pasban IT Group, is doing so well, it owns the only Lamborghini Aventador and Ferrari F430 in Pakistan.
How are these companies doing so well, and how big are these Pakistani startups on the international scene? If the ownership of one of the world’s most expensive cars doesn’t sound impressive enough, let me take you back a few years. Back in the day, when Digg.com was alive, one of the world’s greatest Digg-ers, Waseem, was from Pakistan. He, along with a group of fellow marketers, was hitting the front page of Digg.com on a daily basis, which meant looping in hundreds of thousands of visitors in no time. That is equal to popping your article on Reddit.com’s front page these days. One of the clients of these champion Digg-ers was the Chicago Tribune. You can figure the rest yourself.
This is how the online marketing industry works. Most of what goes viral online is not what people naturally promote and share, but a result of gaming that system to perfection and with skill. This is what good internet marketers do: you can only judge on the basis of what content channel it comes to you from. What if I told you that T-Series, one of India’s biggest music record labels, has a prime internet marketing affiliate based in Karachi? They are just a bunch of boys who do it underground! The bidders for tenders for this job span the entire Earth. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, then, that a company based in Karachi makes apps for the National Aerospace and Space administration (that’s NASA, mind you), for the space giant’s mobile platform.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/541693/how-big-is-pakistans-internet-st...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 1, 2013 at 9:19pm

Here's a report about Effective Measures eyeing Pakistan market:

KARACHI, PAKISTAN: Effective Measure, a rapidly expanding leader in digital audience profiling and measurement in emerging markets, has marked its official entry into the booming online media market of Pakistan.
Founded in Australia and operational in some of the world's most dynamic digital growth markets, Effective Measure has made a further commitment to assisting in the development of the Pakistan online media industry.

Effective Measure has been on the ground in the Pakistan market for over a year and has now formalised its presence following a series of key client wins and the coveted official industry endorsement by the Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS) to facilitate digital audience measurement for the Pakistan digital media industry.

Effective Measure marked its official entry to the Pakistan market by supporting the PAS Awards on the 26th of April and hosting a series of high level briefings with key clients over the last week with visiting Effective Measure CEO Richard Webb and Effective Measure Regional Managing Director MEA, Brendon Ogilvy.

"The vibrant, emerging Pakistan market represents a great opportunity for Effective Measure to help transform a nascent digital media industry into a booming digital economy. We are delighted with the support and collaboration that we have experienced with local media and industry over the last year as we solidified our position in the market. The year ahead will be an extremely exciting time to be part of the local digital market and we will endeavour to share our international expertise to assist in expediting that growth potential and providing world class metrics and data that serve this diverse audience," Webb.

The Effective Measure solution benefits advertisers and media owners by offering superior access to audience reach and demographic data.

And heading up the Pakistan expansion is...

Leading Effective Measure's expansion in Pakistan is Effective Measure Country Manager-Pakistan, Imtiaz N. Mohammad, who has been developing market alliances and relationships over the last year. He joined the Effective Measure team with a rich background in both entrepreneurial digital projects, with technology consultancy Inspire-X and Crosby Asset Management and fixed and mobile content expertise with companies including SmartPhonz Wireless.

"As the Pakistan media market embraces digital it also faces regulatory, technology centric and economic challenges. Effective Measure's global experiences at the grass roots of emerging markets can help ease those challenges and turn them into electric opportunities. The potential in the Pakistan digital media market is huge and armed with the right tools we will assist in fostering the collective goal of turning Pakistan into a knowledge based economy," said Mohammad.

Under the PAS alliance Effective Measure has been working in collaboration with PAS to establish a market leading digital audience measurement service for the Pakistan industry. The breakthrough recognition of the Effective Measure platform, which was announced in March, has given Pakistan's advertising, publishing and digital media sectors a new level playing field to accurately assess measure and develop their valuable digital assets.

"The MEA region continues to exceed expectations across the digital media industry. The diversity of content and enthusiasm for digital engagement across all technology platforms is forcing advertising agencies and publishers to lift their game on all fronts. Insight, audience depth and accountability are no longer luxuries but mandatory tools of the trade and Effective Measure relishes bringing these opportunities for world-class digital development to the Pakistan market," said Effective Measure Regional Managing Director MEA, Brendon Ogilvy.

http://m.bizcommunity.com/Article.aspx?l=163&c=16&i=92755

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 5, 2013 at 5:18pm

Here's a story of a Pakistani woman entrepreneur:

.. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Umar was a full-time teacher. She quit after her job refused her maternity leave and subsequently began writing for a woman she found through Rozee.pk, Pakistan's premiere job portal. The money was good — almost double what she made as a teacher — but when Umar discovered her employer's oDesk profile, she realized she could make even more money by contracting with clients directly.

She set up her own oDesk account and began taking on extra jobs and outsourcing them. At first she gave the jobs to her nieces, then to their friends, and eventually to their classmates, until she realized that she had developed a small content-creation business.

Today, this company is called The Women's Digital League, an IT-solution company that trains rural Pakistani women in micro online tasks, from ghost-writing to social media management.

Ovidiu Bujorean is the Senior Manager of the GIST Initiative, which supports entrepreneurship in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. He met Umar after she won a GIST business plan competition, and recognized her ability immediately. "She is extremely passionate and persistent," he says of Umar. "She’s also very committed to her mission of helping female entrepreneurs find job opportunities...

http://mashable.com/2013/06/29/pakistan-woman-entrepreneur-2/

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 27, 2014 at 10:34pm

Here's a Tech-in-Asia piece on Start-up activity in Pakistan:

Until recently, the only incubators in Pakistan were found in hospitals or poultry farms. But now startup incubators are proliferating. This phenomenon is part of the global wave of shared office spaces, accelerators, incubator programs, and university labs that cultivate entrepreneurship and innovation in the hope of kickstarting their local tech ecosystems and becoming their region’s Silicon Valley.

Like all trends in Pakistan, entrepreneurship is a hot buzzword that’s thrown around too often and hyped beyond what the market fundamentals can support. It’s encouraging to see people get excited about running their own companies, but it’s critical to provide them the tools and most importantly the mindset to achieve extraordinary success on a global scale, rather than ending up as an ordinary local company.

Before looking at the 27 incubators that now exist in the country (embedded below), first we need to understand the environment in which these wannabe entrepreneurs are dreaming about making their first million dollars. Or, inspired by the Zuckerberg story, a billion dollars. Maybe we need a reality check first.

Ground realities
Most tech grads swept away in entrepreneurship fever follow the familiar path of two or three friends moonlighting on freelance work and then finishing their computer science degree to start a “company”, which basically means the three of them sitting at someone’s home and making websites for random clients on Odesk, Elance, or their cousin in Toronto. Once the money starts flowing in, they get a small office and hire three more people to start app development services for iOS and Android. There might be Macbooks and iPhones on the table and a Steve Jobs poster on the wall but it’s a slow, linear slog of adding “seats” and scrabbling around between between rock-bottom hourly rates, Pakistan’s image problem, and offshore client’s expectations.

This service model offers the low hanging fruit that helps get a foothold in the market but it also sucks away the time and energy needed to work on your own products. If services do well, you get more work and more money and the option of risking all that for a fantasy product with no guarantee of success is a difficult decision, one that seems harder with every passing year. It’s a bit like painting walls on daily wages and wishing that one day you’ll create the next Mona Lisa.

Even the largest tech companies in Pakistan are primarily providing services or earning from consulting focused on the typical ERP, CRM, HR, business outsourcing (BPO) solutions that a thousand other providers are vying for. Only a handful have been able to make standalone products that are profitable, let alone become leaders in their segments or globally known brands.

http://www.techinasia.com/27-startup-incubator-programs-funds-in-pa...

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 6, 2014 at 10:34pm

Here's an AFP report on growth of computer games development in Pakistan:

LAHORE: It's a city better known for its history and culture, but a new generation of mobile game developers is bringing a slice of Silicon Valley to Pakistan's Lahore.

With open plan offices, mixed gender teams, gourmet catering and an emphasis on a fun atmosphere, the small but growing IT industry worth an estimated $2.8 billion is being led by young entrepreneurs like Babar Ahmed.

Ahmed, 33, left a career as a circuit engineer in Austin, Texas to found Mindstorm Studios in the eastern Pakistani city in 2006 with his brother Faraz.

Today their studio employs 47 people thanks to hits like 2010's “Whacksy Taxi”, which shot to number one on Apple's AppStore in over 25 countries; “Mafia Farm” in 2012 and “Cricket Power”, the official game of the 2011 World Cup.

“The idea was to put Pakistan on the gaming world,” said Ahmed, explaining he was tired of “drawing room talk” among expatriates in the US about how something should be done for their homeland.

Smartphone revolution

Mindstorm is one of several games development studios in Pakistan — mainly based in Lahore but also in the capital Islamabad and Karachi — to have prospered with the spread of the smartphone.

“After the iPhone was launched, the definition of what a game is changed overnight. The definition of what a gamer is changed overnight,” said Ahmed.

While traditional “hardcore” games — typically played on home console systems or PCs — need multi-million dollar budgets and teams of dozens of developers, games designed for smartphones need far less start-up capital.

That has allowed countries in eastern Europe, Pakistan, and the Philippines to become prime destinations for software outsourcing, said Jazib Zahir, chief operations officer at Tintash, another Lahore-based studio that provided the back-office for “Fishing Frenzy”, another top-ten hit.

According to the government, some 24,000 people are now employed in software exports — though the figure also includes more traditional areas like financial software and healthcare.

“One of the advantages that Pakistan brings is we do have a critical mass of people with training and aptitude, an interest in developing software and art and combining them,” adds Zahir, who is also a part-time tech journalist.

Breaking boundaries

At We R Play, an Islamabad-based studio based in a converted warehouse on the outskirts of the city, rows of twentysomethings busy themselves on their computers surrounded by colourful posters, plush toys and action figures.

The company was founded in 2010 by Mohsin Ali Afzal and Waqar Azim, with a major emphasis placed on a modern office space.

“We were sure from when we started that we didn't want cubicles and I wouldn't have a big office,” said Afzal, who returned from UC Berkeley in 2010.

“We wanted to make sure we're sitting with everyone. We encouraged everyone to take ownership of their spaces and gave them (money) to get stuff for their tables.”

Workspace and play is also seen as key at CaramelTech, a Lahore studio founded in 2011 by brothers Saad and Ammar Zaeem which is responsible for coding global 2011 mega-hit Fruit Ninja (which had over 500 million downloads) for an Australian studio.

The office has a designated play room complete with pool table, table football, and X-box.

“Every day at 4 pm they're forced to leave their work and go play upstairs.

We want that culture where people aren't only working but also enjoy themselves,” he said.

Also notable in the games studios is near gender-parity, a striking fact in a country where female participation in the workforce has lagged behind for decades.

People are dressed in everything from Western jeans and t-shirts to hijabs.

For some, convincing their family they are working in a “real job” wasn't easy....

http://www.dawn.com/news/1091602/gaming-industry-breaks-culture-bar...

Comment by Riaz Haq on November 9, 2014 at 9:48am

With the global mobile applications (apps) market expected to be worth $25 billion by 2015 — according to a report published by MarketsandMarkets, a global market research and consulting company — everyone, from independent developers and software houses to telecommunication (telecoms) giants, is hard at work to secure their share of the fully-baked pie.
Amid growing demand and increasing competition, many are chasing high-margin outsourcing contracts in developing countries such Pakistan. With an abundance of skilled but cheap labour to offer, the country is rapidly emerging as one of the leading IT outsourcing destinations of the world.
Although mobile apps have been around since the late 90s, the increasing penetration of smartphones in the country — nearly seven to eight million smartphones according to a recent research conducted by a local telecom for its marketing strategy — has made their presence felt more deeply. “The number of smartphones has exceeded the number of computers in the country and this change has come about in the past five years,” says Asad Memon, director operations at Creative Chaos, a high-end custom software development company in Karachi with over 14 years of experience.
It is also the burgeoning utility of smartphones — surpassing that of laptops — which has accounted for the explosive growth of mobile apps. For example, the smartphone’s additional features, such as the orientation sensor (built-in compass) and cell phone triangulation (which collects data to trace the approximate location of a cell phone), assist most apps, including Google maps, to do ingenious things. “The utility of these apps has started making a lot of sense to people,” he highlights, adding that even niche brands have capitalised on the feature to directly reach out to target audiences by advertising through mobile apps. As a result, it has attracted more developers into the technology ecosystem to meet the growing demand.

Asad Memon, director operations at Creative Chaos, traces the trajectory of the mobile apps industry. PHOTO: ARIF SOOMRO
A popular outsourcing destination
When it comes to the global market, Pakistan plays its part as a mobile app developer. “Gora sochta hai, desi karta hai,” says Memon, summarising how foreign clients conceptualise the app and leave Pakistani developers to simply follow directions. Since the average rate charged by an iPhone app developer in the US ranges between $50 and $60 per hour, or more, depending on the brand and the complexity of the app, a cheaper solution is to outsource it to countries that quote the lowest price. Despite India being a much cheaper alternative, their issues with quality-control make Pakistan the next best alternative. “What sets Pakistan apart is the costing and the relationship of trust that has been established by delivering quality apps on time, depending on the company [developing the app],” says Memon. A basic app developed by a local software house can cost anywhere between Rs400,000 to Rs10 million, while the more sophisticated ones can go up to Rs20 million, depending on the company’s profile. Time difference is an additional advantage for Pakistan. “By the time we wake up, we are ready to incorporate changes based on the feedback we get,” he says. In certain cases, a team of 140 developers is dedicated to look after a single foreign client.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/786759/mobile-applications-a-test-of-ap...

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 3, 2015 at 9:15pm

Services Trade Development Council (STDC) during its maiden meeting noted that Pakistan is the fourth largest IT service provider to the overseas clients ranked only behind US, India and Philippines with over 200,000 Pakistani professionals working in this field.
First meeting of the Services Trade Development Council took place in the Ministry of Commerce, which was chaired by the Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister for Commerce. The Minister said that Ministry of Commerce would put in place the regulatory framework necessary for enhancing the exports of services from Pakistan. The Council will consult the State Bank of Pakistan to devise a suitable mechanism to facilitate these IT professionals to bring the wages of their work to Pakistan directly. 
In order to effectively market the Pakistani Technology industry, the Ministry of Commerce will enhance the participation of Pakistani IT companies in the international trade fares and exhibitions. The Government will also take measures to enhance the capacity of the free lancers working from their homes and small offices providing IT services to foreign clients. The Minister said that the Ministry will train its trade officers abroad to effectively market the Pakistani Technology industry.
The meeting also agreed to take necessary steps to enhance tourism especially religious tourism in the country as Pakistan hosts remains of various ancient civilisations and religions for example Indus Valley Civilisation, Gandhara, pertaining to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and other religions. The Council suggested taking measures to enhance intra-SAARC trade of services which is currently very low.
Meeting was also attended by the representative of Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom, Secretary Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, representatives of Pakistan Software Houses Association for Information Technology, Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Association, Travel Agents Association of Pakistan, Insurance Association of Pakistan and Constructors Association of Pakistan.

http://nation.com.pk/business/21-Jan-2015/pakistan-ranks-fourth-in-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 10, 2017 at 2:34pm

Online #freelancing grows in #Pakistan, earnings reach $1b in 2016. #InfoTech #Software
https://tribune.com.pk/story/1379351/online-freelancing-grows-pakis...


the Punjab IT Board chairman quoted a conservative figure of 150,000 Pakistani freelancers, earning combined revenue of roughly $1 billion. This fairly high number is despite the fact that so far the phenomenon of online freelancing in Pakistan has grown without any significant government support.

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