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Virtual professionals - work at home

Virtual professionals - work at home

More Filipinos are finding work online-and keeping it-despite the Philippines being notorious for having the slowest Internet connection speeds in Asia (averaging 3.52 megabits per second).

According to data from the Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology, there are at least 900,000 Filipinos who earn a living plugged into the Web, not including those employed in business process outsourcing companies.

Freelancer.com, the world's largest outsourcing and crowd-sourcing marketplace, counts close to 500,000 Filipinos among its 10 million registered users. They're getting jobs in graphic design, data entry, article writing, HTML5, and mobile apps development, among others. "The Philippines has dominated the platform as one of the top three countries where users come from," says Evan Tan, Freelancer.com's regional director for Southeast Asia.

Sites like Odesk.com and Elance.com have also helped skilled young professionals, like Rea Yadao, jumpstart their online careers. "Small business owners and other professionals are seeing the need to outsource their business to online freelancers [to skip] the hassle [and the added cost] of hiring another employee," observes Yadao, who works as a virtual executive assistant for a number of companies abroad.

Grabbing online opportunities

Filipinos are now seizing these opportunities online. "The widespread availability of the Internet in the country is becoming a way to address the shortage of job opportunities in places outside Metro Manila," says Tan, noting the steady growth of online freelancers in places like Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Iligan, and Baguio.

Online work can be a part-time or full-time endeavor, and it does have its benefits. "I wanted to earn money while studying," says Reyzharie de Lara, a home-based online tutor. Even when it became her full-time job after graduation, her schedule remains flexible.

Working virtually has also given Yadao, a single mom, more time with her two boys. "Despite working at home, I can still provide for my family and meet the needs of my children," she says. Yadao, together with colleagues Genesis and Charlene Reonico, also started OnlineJobsUniversity.com, a website providing industry-relevant online job training, news, and updates, to help other Filipinos build their online careers.

Not spared from scammers

Knowledge is still key to survival online-scams and fraudulent clients remain, and given the lack of regulation, online professionals have little to protect them but their own common sense, and each other. "Be smart. Don't hesitate to ask people, to read blogs, and to join forums," says de Lara.

There is, however, a lot of paperwork in the back end of the business. "I handle all things by myself-I pay my own SSS, PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig, and deal with taxes on my own," says de Lara. "I am hoping that, in the near future, there will be regulations and systems that will help us online Filipino professionals to register and pay taxes much easier," says Yadao.

source: Entrepreneur magazine

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