Three indomitable youths become successful freelancers

(L-R) Fazle Elahi, from Ulipur of Kurigram, Bappi Ahammed, from Balrampur of Kushtia, and Rimon Ahmed, from Mohonganj of Netrokona.
Zahidul Karim

Freelancers are not trapped in a 9-to-5 job. They can work from anywhere. All they need are skills, electricity and fast internet.

Firms have to pay higher for local employees in various countries across the world including US, UK and European countries. Often companies do not get the necessary skilled workforce. So they outsource. Thus companies and individuals save money and time. Anyone can do such jobs from anywhere and there are online marketplaces where freelancing jobs are posted

Nowadays, youths are getting more interested in freelancing in Bangladesh because of the expansion of information and technology (IT) and various government and private initiatives. Currently, about 10.05 million freelancers, according to Bangladesh Freelancer Development Society, work in Bangladesh.

Recently, three successful freelancers visited the Prohtom Alo office in the capital’s Karwan Bazar. They are Fazle Elahi, 30, from Ulipur of Kurigram, Bappi Ahammed, 23, from Balrampur of Kushtia, and Rimon Ahmed, 28, from haor area of Mohonganj, Netrokona. All of them had faced financial hardship before they began freelancing for foreign firms from their homes. Now they earn over Tk 100,000 a month. These three youths spoke to this correspondent about their freelancing.

Fazle Elahia was a security guard job

Fazle Elahi worked at an IT firm after completing his post-graduation at Jahangirnagr University. He lost his job during the coronavirus pandemic. He took up a job as a security guard job at Manarat International University in Dhaka just to earn a living. He worked at night. He also managed another daytime job as a deliveryman and data entry operator at a private courier service company in Eskaton of the capital.

Fazle Ehali said, “It was very difficult. Sometimes, it seemed too much, but I continued to work keeping my family in mind.” At one stage, he decided to do something on his own and he thought about learning IT skills and working as a freelancer. He needed training, but couldn't afford it. Someone stepped forward to help. “Then I began a 3-4 month course and learned something.”

After that, Fazle Elahi started searching for freelancing job. He opened profiles on online marketplaces and started biding for job. He got his first freelancing job from a foreign client at an online marketplace Fiverr and earned 35 USD dollars.

“All of a sudden, my Fiverr account becomes inactive. So, I opened a new one and also got more jobs,” Fazle Elahi said adding, since then he does not need to look back. At present, he earns about 2,000 US dollars or over Tk 200,000 a month. As a freelancer, Fazle Elahi works on Google Ads, Web Analytics, and Facebook Conversion.

Fazle Elahi’s father, Abul Kalam Azad was a teacher. His mother Fauzia Khatun was a homemaker. He has a brother. Fazle Elahi completed Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) at Atish Dipankar University of Science & Technology in 2016 and post-graduation on accounting at Jahangirnagar University in 2019. His wife Atika Zaman is a homemaker. The couple has been blessed with a baby girl recently.

Bappi worked at  a paan place to buy a laptop

Bappi Ahammed is the son of tile setter Raihan Madol from the Islamic University thana of Kushtia. He is a second-year student of English at Government Lalon Shah College, Kushtia. He came to Dhaka for a job in 2020 to run his family. He earned a salary of Tk 20,000, but he lost his job after four months because of the coronavirus pandemic. He returned to the village.

Bappi Ahammed learned about freelancing from YouTube. He understood he needed a laptop to start freelancing, but he did not have the money to buy it. It was not possible to get help from the family either. So, he decided to purchase a laptop at his own.

There are many betel leaf places in his village where with leaf collection and sorting jobs available for Tk 300 a day. He then worked at betel leaf plants for three months and saved Tk 8,000. After that, he purchased a used laptop from an e-commerce website. Then he enrolled at a six-month course at an IT training centre where he learned about Google Ads, online analytics and Facebook Ads.

But, it didn’t end here. Bappi Ahammed said, “Having completed the course, I watched video tutorials on what I learned for 10-15 hours a day. I had done it for nine month and developed myself.” After that, he opened a profile at the online marketplaces Upwork and Fiverr, and started bidding for job. Bappi Ahammed got his first freelancing job for 5 US dollar in Fiverr after 23 days. As he completed the job on time, the client, who is from US, also tipped him 10 US dollar and gave him four new jobs worth 200 US dollars.

“Since then, I have done 518 jobs at Fiverr and several other jobs at Upwork,” Bappi Ahammed said. He also works with several clients directly. Currently, he earned about 5,000 US dollar or about Tk 540,000 a month.

As the family became solvent, Bappi Ahammed’s father Raihan Mandol quit his tile setting works. He now looks after a cattle farm at his house. His mother is Parula Khatun. Bappi Ahammed, who is the youngest among his three brothers and sister, married Sumita Khatun at the end of 2022.

Rimon searched for network in haor

Rimon Ahmed's is surrounded by a haor (marshes). There was no uninterrupted electricity and internet connections. Communications were also poor. Rimon was about to complete his bachelor (honours) from Netrokona Government College in 2019. He also attended several job interviews. As the coronavirus pandemic broke out in 2020, educational activities closed.

Rimon Ahmed was the eldest son of his family. His father’s income also stopped. So, he looked for ways to earn. There started his freelancing journey. He borrowed Tk 4,000 from his cousin and enrolled at a four-month course at an IT training firm. But, he couldn’t learn much and he didn’t succeed in finding freelancing jobs at online marketplaces either.

Frustrated, Rimon Ahmed saw a Facebook advertisement one day, which says “The last treatment of life”. So he visited the advertiser’s website out of curiosity. It was a website of an IT training firm. He said, “I got admitted to this IT institute in October 2021 and completed the Google Ads and Web Analytics course in February 2022. Besides, I was also practicing on my own.”

Rimon Ahmed opened a profile at Fiverr. Surprisingly, he got a job of 75 US dollar in just 14 days. At that time, he worked with an old laptop.

Rimon Ahmed said fast internet connection was not available in haor area. After charging, his old laptop worked only for an hour. He had to his house charge his laptop. Then he went to haor by boat for better internet connection so that he can communicate with clients. Rimon Ahmed completed 15 jobs in 3-4 months and earned 400 US dollar.

Rimon Ahmed was in a need of a fast internet, uninterrupted electricity and work-friendly environment. So, he moved to Netrokona town from Mohonganj. “Since then, I no longer needed to look back. Now I earn about 2,000 US dollar or about Tk 216,000 a month.”

Rimon Ahmed’s father Azizur Rahman is a farmer. His mother Mukta Akter is a homemaker. Rimon Ahmed completed both graduation and post-graduation on political science at Netrokona Government College. He is the second among his four siblings. With his income, Rimon Ahmed repaired their house and paid family loans. He married Umme Habiba in February 2022.

“I have been able to save my family from financial crisis, and that is the best thing. Now I am working for boys and girls who are interested in freelancing,” Rimon Ahmed said.

Learn a skill, then stick to it

Freelancing is an attractive word to youths in IT sector. It is a way to earn from home by working for foreigners. But, these three freelancers said the story of failure is more than the success in this sector. Job opportunity does not come by opening a profile without any learning.

It is essential to learn a skill from those skills that see more demand and then stick to it with patience and there is no alternative to maintaining deadlines on job and working honestly with foreign clients, they advised.

This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna