Estimating the number of online freelancers is a tough task. Freelancer platforms such as Fiverr, Freelancer and Upwork do not share this number by country. Particularly for a small country like Sri Lanka tracing the number of freelancers is very difficult.
We wanted to study the extent to which online freelancing /microwork can lead to inclusive growth benefitting underemployed youth, women and previously-excluded persons. To understand the impact that freelancing / microworking could have on local youth, we wanted to quantify the incidence of freelancing by estimating the number of freelancers/microworkers in Sri Lanka.
To quantify the numbers and validate the findings, we employed a multi-prolonged approach.
- Demand side estimation
LIRNEasia conducted baseline survey among 16-40 years old Sri Lankans to understand the incidence of online freelancing. We asked from a sample of 5,377 respondents across the island whether they were aware of freelancing and whether they ever engaged in online freelancing. Only 1.1% of those who were aware (26%) claimed that they have ever involved in freelancing. That translate into 22,000 freelancers.
- Supply side estimation.
We counted the number of freelancers listed as Sri Lankans. This counting exercise was conducted on all leading freelancing / microwork platforms. Unfortunately Fiverr, the most popular online platform in Sri Lanka does not allow freelancers to be sorted by country. Other than Fiverr, supply-side numbers were established by counting the freelancers by country.To estimate the number of registered freelancers in Fiverr, establishing market share of each platform in Sri Lanka was necessary. To do that, we conducted a non-representative quantitative survey with online freelancers who participated in a freelancer meet up organized by Dialog EZcash. Survey results gave us an indication of the market share that each platform commands. Upon establishing market share, the number of freelancers registered with Fiverr was estimated based on supply-side numbers counted from other platforms.
Click here for Research findings