Friday, January 16, 2009

Pakistan Ranks Among Top Outsourcing Destinations


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."

Here are two videoclip about Outsourcing to Pakistan:





Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Jinnah's Pakistan Booms Amidst Doom and Gloom

Pakistan Third Most Popular For Online Outsourcing

Pakistan's Foreign Visitors Pleasantly Surprised

Start-ups Drive a Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan Conducting Research in Antartica

Pakistan's Telecom Boom

ITU Internet Data

Pakistanis Join Hunt For God Particle

NEDUET Progress Report 2008

Pakistani Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

Should Pakistanis be Proud of Their Country?

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great.. Pakistan should concentrate on value added outsourcing like software development. Indian style body shop outsourcing is likely to be stagnate/disappear in coming decade as cost gap closes and new non-human automation technologies emerge. Many call centers are already moving back to U.S. from India.

Sikander Hayat said...

To get more information about developments in Pakistan and in the region, please visit www.real-politique.blogspot.com

Riaz Haq said...

Anon:

"Many call centers are already moving back to U.S. from India."

You are right. You can see it in the data that shows US-based and Canada-based outsourcing grew by 260% and 121% respectively.

Anonymous said...

Pakistan Shining? Well recent development in Karachi and the self assured youth of Karachi and all major cities, hardworking and outstanding minds of rural areas can make it happen without depending on US inspired India Shining/Rising kind of propaganda. Continued friendship with China and assured peace with all neighbors is all Pakistan needs. This is the last batch of corrupt Pakistani leaders so the future is bright...Mujhay Mashriq sey Thandi Hawa aa rahee hai...

Razz said...

What Pakistan needs is a stable government that isn't busy taking it backwards rather than forwards. We need peace, law and order and good infrastructure with power topping that particular list. These things are not that hard to attain if only we're sincere enough and work together. The future is indeed very bright if we could some of this stuff right IMHO.

Riaz Haq said...

Razz,
I agree with your sentiments.
But I think Pakistanis can not serialize these things. It must all be done in parallel. What is needed is to stop the general, overwhelming talk of doom and gloom and inspire Pakistan's young people in the professional and entrepreneurial classes to do everything within their power to move the nation forward, in spite of all of the constraints imposed by the inept and corrupt political class.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece in today's Dawn:

ISLAMABAD, Jan 18: Pakistan is not likely to face any adverse effect from US president-elect Barack Obama’s proposal to stop giving tax breaks to companies which ‘ship jobs overseas’.

In his speech after election victory, Mr Obama had said that as president he would stop giving tax breaks to companies that shipped jobs overseas and start giving them to businesses that would create work opportunities for the Americans.

That probably spelled trouble for Singapore, Philippines or India’s large outsourcing industry, which got most of their revenue from the US, compared to a very small portion received by Pakistan.

IT experts here see no threat, especially because the $300 billion outsourcing industry was growing five per cent a year.

“America will be shooting itself in the foot by implementing the policy,” said Pakistan Software Houses Association president Jehan Ara.

“This is one of the things they always say. Bush said it twice, once in each of his terms. It may be a politically correct thing to say, but not good for business,” she said.

“If we can continue to deliver on quality and innovate in cutting-edge technology, which our outsourcing companies are doing, then there can be no impact on the outsourcing business in Pakistan,” she said.Pakistan’s IT industry has been growing steadily for three years. A marked increase in software export is an indication of the potential of this booming industry.

Estimated to be worth more than $2 billion, the information technology industry engages more than 15,000 professionals in export-oriented activities - software development and call centres.

More than 1,300 businesses registered with the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) were supporting a mission of delivering high-quality and cost-effective IT solutions through quality engineering, analysts said.

Besides, medical transcription and healthcare outsourcing, the sector is growing stronger in delivering services such as financial insurance, accounts outsource mortgages, retail and media and entertainment as well as engineering design.

Asif R. Rizvi of the Digital Prodigy, IT consultants and outsourcing partners even predicts better times for the country’s outsourcers, despite Mr Obama’s pledge to give no tax sops to companies that outsourced work beyond their boundaries.

“The concerns are exaggerated. Impact will be stronger in the US because businesses are already in recession. They need to cut costs and only offshore outsourcing offer that best. In fact, the next two to three years are going to be very good because they will need cheaper well-trained IT personnel from this region,” said Mr Rizvi.

PSEB managing director Talib Baloch said: “Our companies need to realise that opportunity has knocked on their doors. It’s not just the US but the whole world that is looking at Pakistan and India to outsource businesses. Pakistan can sweep the market because it is cheaper than any other country in the region, Philippines or Singapore. It is 35 to 40 per cent cheaper than India.”

In his opinion, the US was not in a position to ban outsourcing.

“It’s a massive hundreds of billions of dollars market. Even if it does, Pakistan does not rely only on the US for the outsourcing business. Pakistani companies have diversified and penetrated into other markets that will soon dominate the US, like South America, Europe, South East Asia, Japan and the world’s fastest growing IT hub, the Middle East that is a colossal $73 billion sector and growing.”

Mr Baloch believes that at a time when the world is desperate for change, Pakistan needs to tap this potential.

“Businesses will survive only if they invest in technology for efficiency and advancement and cost benefits. Outsourcing offers all that,” Mr Baloch said.

http://www.dawn.com/2009/01/19/nat3.htm

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Babar Bhatti's report on broadband deployment in Pakistan:

When compared with cellular phone growth, Broadband has been slow to take off in Pakistan. However the last two years show some progress in terms of growth (a little over 20K subscribers per month), more choices of services in more places and most importantly a significant drop in cost for broadband access (~Rs.1200 per month on average). Another welcome trend is to move towards unlimited broadband.

PTCL has taken the lead with its DSL and EVO offerings while WorldCall, Mobilink Infinity, Wateen / WiMAX, Qubee, NayaTel and Wi-Tribe have also offered their services.

According to PTA, “broadband subscriber base grew by 146% adding 245,727 subscribers during July 2008 – June 2009, while broadband connection charges for 1Mbps connection dropped below Rs. 1000. There were 413,809 Broadband subscribers in June 2009 as compared to 168,082 in June of 2008.”

At the current rate of broadband growth we can cross the half-million mark by December 2009. We need to get to 1 million much faster.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Businessweek report on outsourcing in Pakistan:

Pakistan has become the 20th most attractive outsourcing destination, according to consulting management firm A.T. Kearney. Even as concerns increase about Pakistan’s stability and the growing displaced population due to ongoing military operations with the Taliban, the country made a significant jump on A.T. Kearney’s 2009 Global Services Location Index released May 18. Pakistan went from #30 in 2007 to #20 in 2009.

In fact, the report says that as a region, the Middle East and North Africa are becoming more attractive in the ever-shifting geography of popular outsourcing places. Both enjoy large, well-educated populations and proximity to Europe. The index ranks the top 50 countries worldwide for locating outsourcing activities including IT services and support, contact centers and back-office support. Both Jordan and Egypt have entered the top 10 locales.

Countries are measured on 43 different attributes related to financial attractiveness, people and skills availability and business environment. Yet, cost is a huge motivator for many companies and is one reason that places like Pakistan score so highly. When the same index was released in 2007, about 40% of its weighting was given to the financial attractiveness of a country.

This is a global index, so it takes a look at where companies worldwide are outsourcing their work. There are plenty of companies in the Middle East, for instance, that outsource work to Pakistan. I would venture to guess the percentage of U.S. companies outsourcing work to Pakistan is much smaller. Yet, I find it intriguing that even as concern rises about the stability of Pakistan that it can become a more attractive destination to do outsourcing.

CBS News reported on May 19, the day after this index was released, that Pakistan faces a growing humanitarian crisis with up to 2 million people displaced by fighting between the military and Taliban militants in the northern Swat valley. Similarly, Mexico has seen growing violence due to the drug wars since the last Global Services Location Index was released in 2007. Yet, it only dropped one slot in the index to #11 from #10 two years ago.

So, just how much do companies factor in violence and a country’s political stability before outsourcing there? Increasingly, it seems to me if it’s cheap enough, companies are willing to overlook quite a bit in this regard. What do you think?

Riaz Haq said...

According to the World Economic Forum's Global IT Report 2010, Pakistan has jumped 11 places to 87 from 98 on a list of 133 economies.

Here's how Telecomnewspk.com reports it:

“It is evident that technology is playing a leading role in accelerating economic growth and promoting development,” said Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) Chief Executive Officer Arthur Bayhan. CSF, a partner institute of WEF, is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Finance, government of Pakistan and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), established to reposition Pakistan’s economy on a more competitive global footing.

Bayhan pointed out that CSF has carried out a policy action plan in 2008-09 to mobilise a dialogue across the telecommunication value chain to define the challenges that confront Pakistan’s telecom and IT industry and to address these challenges. The exercise resulted in an action agenda to tackle constraints and better position the ICT sector in Pakistan to take advantage of opportunities for growth.

“Now within 18 months of the exercise, many of the suggested initiatives and recommendations have taken effect so as to reshape the telecom industry in the most efficient and effective manner. CSF believes that through this focused initiative it has helped transform the Pakistan telecom domain,” Bayhan said.

Published for the ninth consecutive year with an extensive coverage of 133 economies worldwide, the Global IT Report remains the world’s most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on the development process and the competitiveness of nations.

Pakistan has fared particularly well in the sub-indexes of Individual Readiness – mobile cellular tariffs (8) and residential telephone connection charge (11) while under the sub-index of Business Readiness the country does good in business telephone connection charge (15) and business monthly telephone subscription (17).

A marked improvement has been seen in Pakistan’s capacity for innovation, which has gone up from 73 last year, to 56 this time but it still requires further improvement. There have been slight improvements in quality of educational systems, up from 104 last year to 99, internet access in schools improving by six places to 75 and company spending on R&D getting better by six places to stand at 80. One of the recommendations put forward by CSF in the action plan was that the telecom operators in Pakistan adopt strategies for creating a conducive and competitive infrastructure cost sharing environment. Accordingly, major cellular operators of the country have signed agreements to get involved in infrastructure cost sharing thereby reducing infrastructure duplication and costs, noted Bayhan. CSF also recommended amplifying the bundled offers like voice and SMS with value-added services like MMS, Mobile TV, Mobile Banking, GPRS etc.

Umair Ahmed said...

i think the pakistan is one of the top destination as alot of professionals are coming and encouraging but still alot of things to be done from government side.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a piece by Prof William Easterly published in Foreign Policy Magazine:

"We found that there was a remarkably strong association between countries with the most advanced technology in 1500 and countries with the highest per capita income today. Europe already had steel, printed books, and oceangoing ships then, while large parts of Africa did not yet have writing or the wheel. Britain had all 24 of our sample technologies in 1500. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga had none of them. But technology also travels. North America, Australia, and New Zealand had among the world's most backward technology in 1500; today, they are among the wealthiest regions on Earth, reflecting the principle that it's the people who matter, not the places. As migration has transformed parts of the world that were nearly empty in the Middle Ages, technology has migrated with them. "

"OF COURSE, IN SOCIAL SCIENCE, no generalization is universal. The most important counterexample is China, which in 1500 had plow cultivation, printing, paper, books, firearms, the compass, iron, and steel, and yet failed to emulate Europe's Industrial Revolution in the centuries that followed. Scholars have argued that autocratic Chinese emperors killed off technological progress for domestic political reasons. For example, one Ming emperor banned long-distance oceanic exploration for fear of foreign influence threatening his power, after Chinese ships had already reached East Africa in 1422."

"This gives us a hint as to how political formation affects development: Fragmented Europe did not have any one autocrat who could kill off technological innovation, and the constant threats of living in a hostile neighborhood spurred the advancement of military technology. And because borders were relatively open around 1500, the reality that citizens could leave for more advanced places -- the forerunner of today's "brain drain" -- kept alive the spirit of innovation. "

"Most importantly, what the history of technology tells us is that the blank-slate theory is a myth. Top-down development programs simply don't work. In fact, the principal beneficiaries of Western largesse today -- African autocrats and dysfunctional regimes -- are themselves the main obstacles to development. If there's anything that "must be done" to spur future development, it's to create the conditions necessary to empower the ordinary individuals who will create new and unforeseen technologies out of old ones. There's a Thomas Edison born every minute. We just have to help them turn the lights on."

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a quick comparison of different sectors of the economy in India and Pakistan in terms of employment and GDP contribution:

Country....Agri(emp/GDP)..Textiles..Other Mfg..Service(incl IT)

India........60%/16% ...........10%/4%.....7%/25%...........23%/55%

Pakistan......42%/20%...........12%/8%......8%/18%...........38%/54%



Assuming India's PPP GDP of $3.75 trillion (population 1.2 billion) and Pakistan's $450 billion (population 175 million), here is what I calculated in terms of per capita GDP in different sectors of the economy:

India vs. Pakistan:

Agriculture: ($833 vs. $1,225)

Textiles: ($1,242 vs. $1,714)

Non-Textile Mfg ($11,155 vs $5,785)

Services ($7,246 vs $3,654)

It shows that Indians in manufacturing and services sectors add more value and produce higher value goods and services than their Pakistani counterparts.

The income range in India is much wider from $883 to $11, 155 accounting for the much bigger rich-poor gap relative to Pakistan's range from $1225 to $5,785.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an Indian report about Pakistani hackers attacking India's FBI (called CBI) website:

New Delhi, Dec 6: Exposing India's weakness in information technology, the premier investigative agency, Central Bureau of Investigation has failed to restart its hacked official website even after 48 hours.

The CBI website (http://cbi.nic.in/), which was hacked by Pakistani hackers, remained offline on Monday, Dec 6. The failure indicates the credibility of Indian IT sector, which is considered as one of the leading exporter of 'brainees' to the Western countries.

The official website of CBI was hacked on Friday, Dec 3 night by unknown hackers, who claimed themselves as "Pakistan Cyber Army". The hackers infiltrated to the root level and left a note saying that the attack was a response to the hacking of Pakistan websites by Indian hackers.

The note left by Pakistan hackers read, "This attempt is in response to the Pakistani websites hacked by 'Indian Cyber Army'. We told u before too...we are sleeping but not dead". The note ended with "Pakistan Zindabad."

Later on Saturday, CBI officials released a statement describing that they were working hard to fix he issue and also registered a case under Information Technology Act against 'unknown' hackers.

"A case has been registered in this connection in the cyber crime cell of the CBI and efforts are underway to restore the website with the help of National Informatics Centre and the CBI cyber security experts," the statement said.

Another Indian report raises questions about the vulnerability of outsourced work in India to hacking, and it says: "Once, our national leaders cried for the 'brain drain' happened to India. Even now, US President Barack Obama urging Americans to compete with India 'brainees'. But the hacking of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)'s website exposed the 'real' credibility of Indian IT power."

Shahzad FSD said...

Nice Blog and Give us very useful info
keep it up

Anand Jodhani said...

In calendar year 2010, India's software and BPO services touched USD 45 billion in outsourcing. That was a 27% growth over the previous year and this years target is USD 60 bn.

Pakistan total software exports adds up to less than the yearly profits of our largest software company TCS which made 2.5 bn this year.

I dont think theres even a comparison. So much so for raving about India going down etc etc You are entitled to feel good about your countries progress but why waste time with obnoxious comparisons.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report about Pakistan's IT export potential:

KARACHI: Pakistan could play host to an extreme growth spurt in the information technology industry in the next 10 years, according to a study quoted by IBM’s Country General Manager Hamayun Bashir.

Speaking at a ceremony held to celebrate a century of IBM’s existence on Thursday, Bashir informed Pakistan may have up to one million jobs in the information technology industry by 2020.

“IBA students are working on a study with assistance from the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s IT committee. The report, to be published in a few months, underlines that by 2020, Pakistan can easily have a million jobs and exports of $10 billion in the IT industry,” he asserted.

He expressed hope that the current figure of 0.15 million jobs in the industry could easily be increased. “I see a bright future for our industry, which is producing top-quality software,” said Bashir.

“We are meeting the IT ministry on behalf of Pasha – the chamber for IT in the country – to get officials to refocus on the sector,” said Bashir.

Commenting on the resignation of former IT minister Babar Awan, he said, “The minister was an important, focal point of the industry.”

“I have heard that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing funds and a data centre will be created in Islamabad,” he said while talking about the e-government programme.

Replying to a complaint that large organisations in the country, such as banks, did not give projects to local firms, he said that there were up to 60 large companies in Pakistan which needed tried and tested software.

He, however, explained that there were at least 10,000 small companies that would not be able to afford services of large international firms and would have to adopt local software solutions, which would help the economy grow.

Riaz Haq said...

While Pakistan fares badly, ranking 103 on a list of 125 nations, on CII-INSEAD Global Index of Innovation for 2011, it is included among the top 10 countries for the Innovation Efficiency sub-Index. These countries are Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Moldova, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, India, and Bangladesh.



This places Pakistan in 4th place on CII-Insead's Global innovation efficiency sub-index, 5 places ahead of India in 9th place, according to Economic Times of India:



India has improved its ranking in the global Innovation Efficiency Index to 9th position in 2011 from 101th last year on factors like political stability, R&D, market and business sophistication, according to a study.



Surprisingly, Pakistan was placed ahead of India at 4th position, the CII-INSEAD study said.



However, India has slipped on its ranking in the Global Innovation Index to 62nd position out of 125 countries in 2011 from 56th last year while Switzerland was at the top,



It said that a lot of Indian talent is returning home to the country and the youth in urban India are now more global than ever, "and they are quite in tune with new technologies, even ahead of the curve in many cases, as early adapters".



"Multinational corporations are making large investments in R&D outside of their headquarter countries, setting up R&D sites in low-cost emerging countries such as China and India to access global talent and take advantage of their proximity to target markets," the report said.



Indian major players such as Tata, Godrej, and Mahindras are shifting their focus towards the rapidly expanding middle-income group of customers by coming up with frugal innovations, keeping in mind the price sensitivity of Indian consumers, it said.




http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/india-moves-up-to-no9-on-global-innovation-efficiency-index/articleshow/9085252.cms



http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/gii/GII%20COMPLETE_PRINTWEB.pdf



http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/12/intellectual-wealth-of-nations.html



http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/10/pakistans-28-billion-it-industry.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a summary of Call Center bill introduced in the US Congress, as published by Huffington Post:

Saying they hope to stem the tide of jobs heading overseas, legislators introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday in the House that would punish American corporations for offshoring their telephone call centers, making such companies ineligible for grants or guaranteed loans from the federal government.

Introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), the protectionist legislation would also put some aggressive mandates on call-center operations. Not only would customer service representatives working overseas for U.S. corporations have to disclose their locations upon request, they would also have to offer callers the option of being transferred to call centers back in America.

"Outsourcing is one of the scourges of our economy and one of the reasons we are struggling to knock down the unemployment rate and reduce the number of Americans who are out of work," Bishop said in a conference call with reporters. "We can't prohibit it, but we can certainly discourage it."

Although some call-center jobs have trickled back into the U.S. in recent years, the long-term trend has shown thousands of American-based customer service positions being outsourced to India and the Philippines, where workers come considerably cheaper. The Philippines' call-center industry recently surpassed India's as the largest in the world, according to a report in USA Today.

The call-center bill has strong backing from the Communications Workers of America, a union representing 700,000 workers, more than 150,000 of whom are customer service reps. Ron Collins, CWA's chief of staff, said that Americans have been losing decent-paying call-center jobs so that large corporations can save on labor costs. He praised AT&T for its decision to bring 5,000 customer service jobs back to the U.S. as part of its merger with T-Mobile.

"When I talk about this, I talk about it from experience," said Collins, a former Verizon call-center worker. "This bill is a very important step forward -- for jobs, for workers and for customers."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/07/overseas-call-centers-outsourcing-bill_n_1135147.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008

Riaz Haq said...

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-high-demand/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on Freelancer.com launch in Pakistan:

KARACHI: With a self-employment boom and double-digit growth in internet subscriptions, Pakistan has become the third highest user of freelancer.com, the world’s biggest online marketplace in terms of user base, it was revealed at the launch of the website’s local version on Tuesday.

“Pakistan is the third largest country using the website [freelancer.com], closely following India and the United States,” said Adam Byrnes, International Director at freelancer who joined the ceremony through a video call from the company’s headquarters in Sydney, Australia.

“Pakistani freelancers have already earned more than $13 million from the platform,” he said.

Freelancer’s decision to launch the local website comes on the back of strong growth in subscriptions by Pakistani freelancers. The website presently has 240,000 Pakistani users.

According to a report prepared by freelancer, self-employed Pakistanis surged from 33.3% to 39.9% between 2009 and 2012. The report attributes this surge in subscriptions to the rise in internet use in Pakistan, which saw double-digit growth in the past five years. In terms of internet growth, Pakistan stands second in the Saarc region, the report said.

“I am excited about the launch of freelancer.pk because of the potential Pakistan represents for the platform,” said Byrnes who is responsible for expanding freelancer across the world. “This [Pakistan] is a high value market for employers abroad.”

With more than 30 million internet users, five million plus broadband users and a population approaching 200 million, according to 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 said.

Freelancer just hit seven million users globally and 4.2 million projects were facilitated by the website, Muhammad Umer Farooq, company director responsible for managing the freelancer website told The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the event.

“An amount of $150 million has been spent so far by users of freelancer.com,” he said, adding they make money by charging commission from both the employers and the freelancers who get projects.

Interestingly, Farooq pointed out, it is not only foreigners hiring Pakistani freelancers, but Pakistani companies are also giving contracts to Pakistani freelancers registered on the website. United States is the top country awarding 38% of total projects on freelancer while Pakistan stands fifth for it awards 4% of the projects.

The idea is to enable rupee transactions for Pakistani members for which the company is in talks with local banks, both Farooq and Byrnes said. “Secondly, we are soon going to have an Urdu version of the website,” Farooq said.

IT and graphic designing (logo design) are the top two categories at freelancer. Freelancers can bid for the projects posted by employers through a simple method, he said. Given that it is one of the top countries on the website, Pakistani freelancers can benefit from exposure to the international job markets – the UK, North America, Australia and Canada.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/516239/pakistan-3rd-highest-user-of-freelancer-as-self-employment-rises/

http://www.freelancer.com/work/paid-freelance-projects-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Top four online outsourcing sites Elance.com, oDesk.com, reelancer.com, and Guru.com report that Pakistan ranks number 3, after US (#1)and India (#2), in terms of freelancers doing outsourced IT work on contract. Bangladesh ranks fourth.

It also shows US, Australia and the UK as the top hiring countries.

All of the above-mentioned websites work in a similar fashion: companies post job requirements on these sites. Next, freelancers or IT-companies offer their skills and price for the project listed on the website. Finally, the company chooses the best type of bid for its job requirements.

http://swproposal.com/Blog/Topic/How_to_work_with_Elance_oDesk_Freelancer_and_Guru

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Wired.com report on Karachi Hackathon:

Sabeen Mahmud has short-cropped hair and rectangular glasses; she’d fit right in hunched over a laptop at Philz or behind the counter at one of Apple’s Genius Bars. Her resume matches her style. She’s founded a small tech company, opened a hip coffee shop and organized a successful hackathon. But Mahmud doesn’t hail from the Bay – she lives in Karachi, a city more closely associated with extreme violence then entrepreneurs.

“Fear is just a line in your head,” Mahmud says. “You can choose what side of that line you want to be on.”

Mahmud represents something new in this ancient city. Mahmud “fell in passionately in love” with the first Mac she saw, teaching herself MacPaint and MacDraw in college in 1992, and devoting countless hours to Tetris. In 2006, Mahmud decided Karachi was sorely missing a space where people could gather around shared interests, an interdisciplinary space for collaboration and brainstorming. Despite the fact that in Pakistan, many women are not allowed to finish primary school, much less graduate from college and start their own company, she decided to start The Second Floor café, not letting the fact that she didn’t have any money or experience faze her. “I was living with my mother and my grandmother at the time,” she says, laughing. “I had done zero market research. I just hoped people would show up.”

People slowly have. The Second Floor now hosts four events a week, from poetry writings to live theater performances to forums on critical issues. Last month,the café hosted Pakistan’s first hackathon, a weekend-long event with nine teams focusing on solutions to civic problems in Pakistan ahead of last Saturday’s national election. “People are very disillusioned with mainstream politics right now,” Mahmud says. “We wanted to come up with a way to put that energy to use.”
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Starting with 30 high-level problem areas, they whittled it down to nine specific issues that could be solved with concrete apps. “Not a single soul questioned that these problems could not be solved,” Ahmed says. “It was all a matter of selecting the right approach.”..


http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/05/pakistans-first-hackathon/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story of a Pakistani woman entrepreneur:

.. Before becoming an entrepreneur, (Maria) 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/

Anonymous said...

Groopic’s Rehan said that Plan9 helped in four key ways: mentorship, networking opportunities, office space, and stipend.

However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

Plan9 conducts reviews every six weeks to ensure that startups are on track. After one and a half months they should have a business model developed based on real world feedback; at the three-month mark they should put their alpha product in front of early adopters; and at 4.5 months they should introduce iterations to refine their market strategy. If they can’t meet their goals, they’re out of the program.

Of the incubator’s inaugural round, only eight of the 13 startups graduated.

“The others were eased out. They weren’t serious or committed enough, or they just couldn’t pull it off.”

Rehan and his friends were just one of eight teams to have graduated from Plan9′s inaugural incubator class, but it appears there are more of their kind out there. More recently, Pakistan emerged as one of the world’s biggest locations for individual outsourcing via sites such as odesk, elance, and freelancer.com.

The social and political winds are also shifting.

Internet and cloud technologies have lowered the barriers to entry to compete in the global digital economy; and among Pakistan’s 183 million strong population there are almost 30 million internet subscribers. Meanwhile, voters recently appointed the second successive democratically elected government — the first time that’s happened in the 64-year troubled history of a country whose progress has been sabotaged by regular military coups.

http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/05/pakistan-government-backed-incubator-seeds-local-investor-appetite/

Riaz Haq said...

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-pakistan-2014/

Riaz Haq said...

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-barriers