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Digital JAM 2.0 introduces Freelancer.com and MobileWorks to Jamaica as the GOJ readies Flexi-work Legislation

“You (Jamaicans) have got a huge problem. A lot of people are unemployed or underemployed. Against the backdrop of this you have the virtual global economy – online. It’s a new market it’s something that is happening as we speak. There are tons of employment opportunities online and this is not very well known,”

Fabio Pittaluga, World Bank’s Senior Social Development Specialist at Digital JAM 2.0 July 28-30 2012AD

Ever since I did that piece on Telecommuting and the coming of Flexi-Work legislation to the Jamaican landscape in Jamaica’s 100MBps Internet Silver Lining – Tele-commuting Workplace is coming readers have shown an incredible deal of interest in finding ways of making money from the Internet.

As World Bank’s Senior Social Development Specialist Fabio Pittaluga had mentioned to the Gleaner at the Digital JAM 2.0 Marketplace and Job Fair held at the Jamaica Conference Center in Downtown Kingston on Ocean Boulevard between Thursday June 28th 2012AD to Saturday June 30th 2012AD, quote: “These are good opportunities for Jamaicans because it doesn’t matter where you sit anymore. Because it’s global, because it’s virtual, you could be here and doing work for a client in Singapore, you can be doing work for a client in the Philippines, or in Grenada”.

freelancer logo Digital JAM 2.0 introduces Freelancer.com and MobileWorks to Jamaica as the GOJ readies Flexi work Legislation

After all, the Internet is not just about Facebook and Twitter. Despite our low level of Internet penetration, which has not changed since I did the article Jamaica’s Low Net Penetration – Broadband Internet A Universal Right all is not exactly the same.

In June 2011AD, Television Jamaica unwittingly created a star when Clifton “Clif-Twang” Brown pointed out that “the bus can swim” as explained by Editor-in-Chief Kelroy in “Refixing” Humorous Jamaican News clips big hit on Youtube.

This phenomenon has given rise to the concept of Social Media Marketing as described in Social Media Marketing – Advertising and Marketing in Ja on a Shoe-String as cash-strapped companies turn to the Internet and Social Media Platforms such as FaceBook, Twitter, Skype and Youtube.

This so as to market and advertise their products to a Younger Generation of consumers who are into Mobile Internet whether it be from LIME or Digicel newly minted “4G” Networks as per my analysis in Digicel launches “4G” Mobile and JA$2.89 Sweeter Deal in a bid for Prepaid Extinction. Ok, so the Internet, especially Mobile Internet has some practical use for large companies and businesses in reducing their advertising and marketing budget…….

But what about the individual Jamaican; how do they make money from the ICT Sector  a question as posed in Meeckal B. Beecher’s article aptly titled “Can ICT help tap young talent in Jamaica?” in the  Sunday Gleaner, dated July 15th 2012AD? More to the point, how does the proverbial man on the street make money from the Internet?

Options abound for the tech savvy and those with an eye for business, if you’re prepared to commit your time and energy to your venture Capital dreams! But your fellow Jamaicans are not very encouraging.

Aside from downloading and burning DVD’s and CD’s, Jamaicans see little practical use for the Internet, save of course for Social Networking. The latest phenomenon is the purchasing of items online using Scotia VISA Debit Card, which customer have been enjoying upon trading in their old Scotia Debit Card for the added power of VISA as described in ScotiaBank’s VISA Debit Card – Jamaica’s Online E-Commerce Renaissance.

Expanding on blogger Meeckal B. Beecher’s article, Jamaicans can do an e-commerce website using the Scotia VISA Debit Cardvia PayPal as the payment go-betweenas I had explained inHow to use Scotia VISA Debit Card Online which drew much interest. A good example of on such creative Jamaican e-commerce website is FarmVilleJamaicaLive.

FarmVilleJamaicaLiveis a truly clever website with a double entendre name; akin to the real FaceBook in name only, the difference is the “Live Part”; members do REAL farming on REAL 10’ by 10’ plots as described in Farmville Jamaica Live heralds the rise of Social Farming.

I must admit though, I’ve been a bit tardy with my promise to do an article on how to do the same with Video Games and Apps i.e. a “how-to” article on writing an App, be it a productivity App or Gamin App using the popular In-Game purchase or Freemium model as described in Smartphones and Apps – Freemium Games are No. 1. After all, a Jamaican may just make the next SmurfBerry Game App that could be a hit on Apple iOS App Store or Google Android MarketPlace!

So to my dear readers I admit I have erred in not keeping to my promise. To make it up to you, I introduce you to a recent phenomenon that appears to making inroads into Jamaica once more: Data Outsourcing viaSydney Australia based website Freelancer.com and San Francisco, California based company MobileWorks.

Launching the Jamaican version of their services during the three-day Digital Jam 2.0 Marketplace and Job Fair, these two (2) companies represent a renaissance in Data Outsourcing.

Despite being worlds apart, they are basically the same thing. Both Crowdsourcing companies  take large IT based projects that can be accomplished by a Workforce located across the world online and outsources it to skilled individuals online who then bid for the project and get paid based on the quality of their work.

Hence Data Outsourcing is often referred to a Crowdsourcing or Micro working, with Customer Care (Inbound) and Sales (Outbound) being Voice Outsourcing . Freelancer is particularly easy to join using your email address or even Facebook account to create a Freelancer account. Once on, you can scope out projects that pay anywhere between US$20 to US$2 (no PayPal required!)straight to your bank account or as a cheque that can be parlayed into the following categories:

  1. Programming using Web Scripting Languages
  2. App Software Design
  3. Website Scripting
  4. Writing Blog or website Articles
  5. Social Media Marketing
  6. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  7. Graphic Design

Their website states it more clearly, should you have any doubts that this can really happen in Jamaica: “The platform connects over three million employers and freelancers globally from over 234 countries and regions. Through its website, employers can hire freelancers to do work in areas such as software, writing, data entry and design right through to engineering and the sciences, sales and marketing, and accounting and legal services”.

If it’s a little hard to believe that being a Pajama Worker (the nickname for Teleworkers, as they often work around Internet connected computers in their sleeping clothes!!) is possible in Jamaica, then the next company should put your mind at ease as they are a bit more traditional in structure.California-based MobileWorks is also a lot like Freelancer.com, but with more direct GOJ (Government of Jamaica) support as it fits with the ruling PNP’s socialist ideology; one thousand (1,000) jobs in six (6) months’ time and ten thousand (10,000) jobs  by 2015AD!

Interestingly the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has just concluded a two-year research paper entitled “Flexible Work Arrangements: An Examinations of its Implementation in the Jamaican Workplace”. The perception of Flex-work week was ascertained by interviews within six(6) Private Sector Companies and two (2) Trade Unions has drawn the following basic conclusions:

  1. Employers welcome it, as it would increase revenues and reduce labour costs
  2. Employees dislike it as they fear a reduction in their salaries and opportunities for upward mobility

This as the GOJ prepares to make amendments to the Legislation to define the rights of workers and Trade Unions under Flexi-work, specifically:

  1. Telecommuting
  2. Part-Time Workers
  3. Overtime work, specifically the right for women to work overtime
  4. Workweeks with hours less than 40 hours

Thus Flexi-Work is coming to Jamaica, whether the Church likes it or not! The Jamaican Church’s worst nightmare come to life as the Private Sector robs Jamaicans of their Sabbaths and Sunday dinner and tithes! Stay tuned to the Geezam blog as this story develops!

But what of MobileWorks, the other company mentioned here. How are they similar or different from Freelancer.com? The words form the Horses’ mouth, MobileWorks CEO KulKarni, give a clue as to the nature of MobileWorks’ business, quote: “We [established] contracts with governments. We have plans to index large sources of work. Our customer contracts are typically confidential, but they include search companies and financial service companies”.

Their business model is also the same as that of Freelancer.com, but instead has employees working on large projects from clients in the US, EU and East Asia subdivided into smaller manageable projects that it marshals out to it global workforce.It also appears that the GOJ may be one of their first clients, as there are tons of low level Data Processing and Data Entry and Document Digitization works that needs to be done to modernize the Government and make it more efficient.

By comparison to Call Centers in Jamaica such as Fullgram Solution or ACCENT Marketing Limited which typically pay JA$200 (US$2.30) an hour or roughly JA$8000 (US$93.00) for a forty (40) hour GOJ-stipulated work week, flexi-work style, MobileWorks pays as low as US$5 to US$20.

But as the skillset is similar to those as listed above the Freelancer.com, one would be silly to pass up the opportunity to earn extra pocket change on the side while holding down the fort with an official job at a Call Center or wherever it is that you’re underpaid……er…….i mean employed.

After all, Crowdsourcing jobs draw upon your ability to use your severely underutilized IT Training from your college days. Especially here in Jamaica, where most aspiringProgrammers with International IT Certification end up as PC Repair Technicians and Network Administrators in the Private and Public Sector!

Those not so well connected end up working as TES (Technical Engagement Specialists)on the Asus or Panasonic Accounts at ACCENT Marketing Ltd, one of may Call Centers in the rapidly expanding ICT Sector. So this recent development will allow those willing to become Data Processors to get their feet wet in e-commerce without having to endure wearing Office clothes and have to deal with irate customers over the phone.

These Pajama Workers would also in time justify Telecom Providers expenditure on their Wireless and Wired Broadband Networks via the increase Data Traffic on their Networks. It would also give a serious boost to Data Outsourcing and Teleworking and fast-track the adoption of Flexi-work by the GOJ.

Thus Freelancer.com and MobileWorks may in fact be the canaries in the cave signaling the coming of Flexi-work to Jamaica. In the meantime, dear reader, you can check out Freelancer.com website using the link below and make some extra pocket money on the side.

Here’s the link:

Freelancer.com

http://www.freelancer.com

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 Digital JAM 2.0 introduces Freelancer.com and MobileWorks to Jamaica as the GOJ readies Flexi work Legislation
Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.
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