Danish investment company Coders Trust has launched an initiative in Bangladesh to create 100,000 IT freelancers in the next four years.
Grameen Solutions Ltd signed a deal with Coders Trust in Copenhagen last month.
Under the agreement, funds will be raised to arrange focused education for IT graduates and freelancers and secure online jobs for them.
More than 50,000 freelancers will be trained in the next two years and 100,000 in the next four years, said Tehsin Hasan, chief executive officer of Grameen Solutions.
A pilot project has already begun with 20 people, comprising students from rural areas and public universities, and women and elderly.
"The future of the project will depend on their performance," Hasan told The Daily Star yesterday.
In addition to training for securing high-wage online jobs, the project envisages providing subsistence allowance as well for meeting essential expenditures of the students enrolled under the programme.
During the training period, the participants will earn $150 a month as stipends. They will also work during the training period.
Coders Trust is a micro-financing company and targets freelancers and students in emerging markets who want to upgrade their programming skills. The company provides loans to students to help them take training courses and charges a 10 percent commission from their freelance fees in return.
Morten Lund, partner of Coders Trust and co-founder of Skype, said: “This is the most concisely conceived and most promising project I have ever been a part of."
"By upgrading skills and preserving local jobs you avoid brain drain in the developing countries and help European companies in getting the best people to solve the tasks,” he said in another message.
Freelance portals will create more than 150 million jobs globally by 2025, according to a report by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. Portals such as Odesk, Elance and Freelancer already have close to 20 million registered users.
The number of IT freelancers in Bangladesh varies between 1.2 lakh and 5 lakh.
Bangladesh accounts for some 12 percent of the total market of freelancers worldwide.
By providing them with the tools to attain new skills -- from data entry to advanced coding -- Coders Trust aims to empower students in remote areas around the world to generate income.
The initiative has the backing of the Danish government, whose Danida (Danish International Development Agency) will be mobilising funds to make the project a success. “In Bangladesh, Danish foreign aid has contributed to millions of people being lifted out of poverty every year. I am very focused on using foreign aid to create growth and employment locally," said Mogens Jensen, trade and development cooperation minister of Denmark, in a video message.
"We have supported this project because it, in an innovative manner, will create jobs in rural areas for the young people who otherwise would not have other options than to move to the big cities,” he said.
Anette Galskjøt, commercial counsellor of Danish embassy in Dhaka, said the Danish foreign ministry would be delighted to fund and support the initiative.
Ferdinand Kjaerulff, founder of Coders Trust, said: “We will work closely in order to make the strongest impact possible in the mission of strengthening the future of Bangladeshi boys and girls by giving the access to the online job market."
He also congratulated the government's 'Digital Bangladesh' initiative and said that one of the outcomes of the initiative was Dhaka being declared as number three in the world as outsourcing destination just within a few years.
Marianne Hyltoft, strategic adviser to Coders Trust, said boys and girls in Bangladesh lack access to capital, technology and not least to the job market, when and if they graduate.
"These three elements are crucial for creating a better future for young people. Together with Grameen Solutions we roll out a system that subtly combines these requirements and enable Bangladeshi students to enter the online job market."
ICT Secretary Nazrul Islam Khan thanked the Danish foreign affairs ministry and the Danida for sponsoring the project.
"It would strengthen government initiative for enhancing IT skills and thereby ensuring higher earnings."