Today, I attended my first E-Commerce Summit organized by Digital Filipino. For this year, they held the event at the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City. It covered a lot of topics which I will be sharing in another post but for now, I was really encouraged and inspired by Ron Cirujano, Country Mananger for Elance Philippines.
Elance is a portal for freelance workers. It is a global network and one of the biggest members is found here in the Philippines. It currently has 153, 000 Filipinos all signed up and taking work in its portal. Of all the topics that were shared, this was really spoke to me most because there was a time that I was also doing online freelance work for a few years. I was an online assistant doing research and admin work. The client sent the laptop from North America to the Philippines and the client even paid for my internet access to do the work. It was fun because I only needed to work four hours a day and the rest of the day I was able to do other things. At that time, I was also teaching at one of the top university medical schools related to language and communications.
According to Ron, online work is a 1 billion US dollar industry. And for the last two years, the Philippines has been able to generate 40 million pesos of work for Metro Manila freelance online workers alone. This is amazing because it is clear that there is really a market for people who can find work online and still be able to take command of their own time and their own schedules.
Can you just imagine what this means for the unemployed Filipino college graduate? It means that there are avenues to earn a living without leaving the country. It means that there are opportunities to avoid the daily commute and the traffic congestion that adds to one’s stress. But most of all, it means being able to have the quality of life that many Filipinos long for.
The best part of Ron’s presentation isn’t so much as presenting Elance Philippines and what it has been able to do for the Filipino worker. What I like is how he clarified that online work and outsourcing are two different things. He defined outsourcing as the office dissolving the office somewhere and migrating the work at another location because of the lower cost of labor. Online work that is being offered by Elance Philippines is something that adds to the strength of the existing businesses that Elance serves. These clients range from Fortune 1000 US corporations to even small to medium enterprises looking for good talent online.
I’ve shared with Ron that during my time being an online assistant it helped augment my income in teaching. Furthermore, my online work also opened the doors to even better opportunities and better projects for me because I learned new skills as well. As such, it is really amazing to see that this sector is growing in the Philippines. He closed his thoughts on how the government should move towards supporting online work as these individuals also help in the economy. Yet it seems that we still have a long way to go in terms of implementing things related to taxation and getting the government support for online work.