Freelancer Factory Graduation Ceremony
With the advent of easily-available and fast internet in Pakistan, opportunities for doing freelance work have expanded vastly. However, although many people have the skill required to do such work, they are held back from tapping this job market because of barriers such as lack of knowledge of where to search for such work or how to build a resume and inability to communicate and negotiate effectively. Freelancer Factory- a month-long workshop conducted by ITU Trainings- focussed on exactly these things, and more. This workshop was organized by Sami Khan and Haseeb Anwar Virk and focussed on empowerment through self-employment by teaching participants both technical and soft skills which will allow them to work profitably as freelancers.
The workshop began with a three day free of cost open house which was attended by over 75 people. The actual workshop garnered over 40 participants who were given intensive instruction by three trainers from Plan9 TechHub. Two of them; Kamran Shafi & Kamran Zahid were dedicated to teaching participants technical skills. Both Shafi and Zahid are certified Word Press trainers while Zahid is also a certified motivational speaker. The soft skills aspect of the workshop was conducted by Rehan Shaykh who is a Chartered Accountant. Participants have been taught basic skills like writing proposals, making resumes and portfolios, making accounts on online job portals, carrying out online transactions and communicating and negotiating with Western clients etc.
The success of the workshop can be gauged by the fact that 12 participants secured freelance work even before it ended. Masood Ali, a web developer and a participant, said “This workshop has helped me tremendously in terms of securing freelance work bids and negotiating with clients; the instructors are wonderful and have helped already secure some work through which I earned more than my monthly salary in three days.” Ali also explained that initially, the bid for this particular freelance work was $30, however with the help of the instructors, he was able to negotiate, bargain and have it increased tenfold.
Another participant, Danish Nisar, who is a graphic designer, told that earlier he had had a desk job job but continuously felt trapped. Nisar decided to leave his job and attend Freelancer Factory to explore opportunities for working on his own. “A whole new world has opened up for me,” said Nisar, “I feel so free and motivated. The instructors are truly amazing and I feel that in one month I have learned so much not only in terms of skills but also with regard to my personal development. The instructors taught us to dream big but also kept the practical tempo up. It is marvellous to realize that I am unrestricted and can easily earn a living doing freelance work.”
Kamran Zahid, one of the instructors, said that the idea that they could start earning while they were studying was very novel for participants and excited them. Kamran Shafi remarked that participants were often willing to put in extra hours and enjoyed the workshop so much that they repeatedly wished that their teachers had taught them in such a fun way. Rehan Shaykh said that he was amazed by the passion and dedication displayed by the participants.
Sami Khan, one of the organizers of the workshop said that initiatives such as Freelancer Factory can go a long way in addressing the unemployment rate in Pakistan and relieving the local job market by connecting people to the global market. Freelance work widely available and present an excellent opportunity for people to overcome locational, cultural and infrastructural barriers in earning a good living using their skills and the internet. Khan said that the trend for Freelancing is increasing in Pakistan; nearly 28% of Pakistan’s total software services export revenue comes from freelance work, and thus such workshops are extremely important. The next goal for ITU Trainings, he told, was to conduct a similar workshop for women. He said this was especially important as women comprise 52% of the country’s population and represent an untapped market. Freelance work would provide women the perfect opportunity to earn from their homes while also empowering them.