LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

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Catalyzing online entrepreneurship in Jaffna

befunky-collageOne member of the above-capacity audience at the Jaffna Managers’ Forum event on “Online freelancing as a gateway to the service sector” wanted to know why we were not providing detailed, how-to instructions on the use of Fiverr and similar platforms. He appeared to have trouble with the concept of a think tank that was simply raising awareness based on research findings, which had nothing to sell. Suthaharan Perampalam, who did the heavy lifting on this first initiative of the dissemination of the findings of our inclusive information society project, responded along with the Leader of the Opposition of the Northern Province legislature, Mr Thavarajah, and the questioner was satisfied.

The starting point of our dissemination effort in Jaffna was the low level of awareness of online freelancing in the Jaffna District (19%) versus 26 percent awareness for the entire country and over 40 percent in the Wayamba Province. Jaffna has always been known for its emphasis on learning. It also lacks a significant private sector presence. So we thought that making young people aware of the opportunities to make money from ICTs represented by online freelancing would be of great value here.

The above-capacity crowd that came to the Euroville Conference Center indicated we were right. After the presentation there were several requests for follow up actions. We pointed to a young man from the audience, Mr Jena, who had been doing online freelancing for some time and was well positioned to provide the necessary knowledge. We also pointed to Ruzan Ahmed from Dialog Axiata’s mobile money operation who organizes Freelancer Meetups every six months. Dialog could be persuaded to organize the next event in Jaffna, we said.

As a lean research organization, our job is to inform the relevant audiences and catalyze progress. After that we get out of the way and allow others to play their roles.

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