To help educated youth of the country become self-reliant as freelancers, the government launched the "Learning and Earning Development Project" in 2014 which has so far successfully provided free training to 57,683 individuals.
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division of the government undertook the project at a cost of Tk319 crore, with a goal of creating 20 lakh jobs in the IT sector.
The project, active in all 64 districts of Bangladesh, provides training in digital marketing, graphics, and web design and development. The project has a 30% quota for women.
Anyone interested in signing up must have a laptop, must have graduated with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC), and a basic knowledge of computers.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for the ICT Division, said more than six lakh freelancers around the country have become self-reliant with the help of outsourcing.
"According to Bangladesh Bank, the country is earning more than $500 million every year through outsourcing work but the actual income numbers could be even more," Palak added.
Mahfuzur Rehman is secretary of the Freelancer Association of Bangladesh and chief executive officer of Rajshahi Tech. He said when he was starting freelancing in 2010, not many people were aware of this line of work.
"But now, thanks to the government's "Learning and Earning" project, this field is widely known and starting out as a freelancer has become much easier," he added.
Afia Jahin Khan has benefited greatly from the government project. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Tangail and received training in digital marketing through the "Learning and Earning" project.
She said, "My father is paralysed and my mother is the sole breadwinner in our family. I wanted to help her and started selling dresses on a Facebook page but the response was not that encouraging."
"Then I learned about the "Learning and Earning" project and got trained in digital marketing and now I can earn a good amount of money working in outsourcing and can manage the marketing side of my page myself," she added.
Suruj Bhuiyan is another freelancer from Natore. He said he was never very good academically but the training helped him turn his life around.
"Now, my monthly income is Tk15,000 – Tk20,000 and I am planning my future around outsourcing," he added.
Alongside the "Learning and Earning" project, the government also introduced the "She Power Project" to create more female entrepreneurs in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.