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Dhaka Tribune

Making money online

People with appropriate knowledge and skills can utilize online platforms as a great resource for a viable source of income

Update : 12 Jul 2023, 04:46 AM

With the rising accessibility of the internet, online platform usage in Bangladesh has been increasing rapidly in recent years, with millions of people using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. 

According to DataReportal, as of January 2023, online platform/media users in Bangladesh are 44.7 million. Facebook is Bangladesh's most popular online media platform, with over 40 million users. It is followed by YouTube, which has over 25 million users, and WhatsApp, which has over 20 million users. Other popular online platforms in Bangladesh include Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These are the most used online media platforms all over the world. 

An online platform refers to a digital platform that enables individuals to connect, communicate, and share various forms of content, such as text, images, and videos, with a wide audience. It serves as a virtual space where people can interact, express themselves, and engage in social, cultural, and professional interactions. 

Online platforms typically facilitate user-generated content and provide features that encourage collaboration and information dissemination. These platforms have become an integral part of modern society, fostering connectivity, promoting information exchange, and influencing public discourse on a global scale.

A prosperous Bangladesh means more people online

Online platform usage in Bangladesh is mainly driven by the younger generation, with a large number of people between the ages of 18 and 34 using online platforms regularly. It is also popular among urban residents, with people living in cities and towns more likely to use online platforms than those living in rural areas. 

Although rural inhabitants are also coming under the umbrella of internet connectivity gradually, with 46% of rural households getting access to the internet according to the Digital Literacy Index (DLI) study conducted by the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) in 2020. 

The Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES), by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics in 2020 and 2022 revealed that the average monthly per capita income rose from Tk3,940 in 2016 to Tk7,614 in 2022. During this period, urban residents saw a substantial increase in their monthly per capita income from Tk5,752 to Tk10,951, while rural inhabitants saw an increase from Tk3,261 to Tk6,091. 

Although no study has proven it, the increasing trend in online platform business platforms may have contributed to this rise in income over time, among other factors. 

There are notable instances of impressive income earned from online platforms; Ryan Kaji, a child from Texas, US, has 35 million YouTube subscribers whereas Bangladesh's own Tawhid Afridi has also achieved remarkable success, earning tens of thousands of dollars from YouTube. There are numerous such as examples that are motivating for youngsters. 

However, it is important to note that while online platforms can be a viable source of income in Bangladesh, it is not without its challenges. Competition is high, and it can be difficult to stand out in a crowded marketplace. 

There are also concerns about the spread of fake news and misinformation on online platforms. Additionally, online platform algorithms can change frequently, making it difficult for content creators and businesses to maintain their visibility on these platforms.

Individuals who effectively combine knowledge, skills, and principles have a higher likelihood of succeeding in their lives and livelihoods -- e-learning hub, a centralized online platform offering educational content and resources, can play a crucial role in building such competencies. 

These hubs provide flexible, self-paced courses, granting convenient digital access to educational materials, remote training programs, tutorials, and interactive discussion forums. They also offer certification options. 

A leading example is a mostly free-of-cost online platform named MuktoPaath, a comprehensive online platform developed by the government's a2i program, that caters to the diverse learning needs of individuals in Bangladesh. It offers diverse courses in computer programming, graphic design, digital marketing, English language, along with development of soft skills and many more. It serves as a hub where learners can enroll in courses, access learning resources, and participate in interactive sessions, learning from video lectures, online quizzes, and assignments. It also provides certifications upon completion. 

Through the platform's integration of e-learning methodologies, learners can engage in self-paced learning, interactive assessments, and collaborative discussions, enabling learners to conveniently access educational or training content anytime, anywhere, fostering flexibility and convenience. 

Since its inception, MuktoPaath has reached approximately 2.14 million individuals, offering over 260 courses, with 2.6 million receiving professional certifications. 

Success stories

Jewel Rana, a 25-year-old established a digital centre in Gazipur utilizing the skills acquired from multiple courses on MuktoPaath. Courses like graphic design, troubleshooting, video editing, MS Excel, etc initially helped him gather the courage to proceed with a start-up based on these skills. 

“Now I earn a monthly revenue of Tk 10-15 thousand. I believe the online training I received from various sources, including Muktopaath, helped me become an entrepreneur,” said Rana.

Shiuli Akter (40) and her husband initially started cattle rearing as a hobby alongside their grocery business. However, they faced challenges such as diseases, improper food management, and inadequate housing, resulting in unprofitable cow sales. 

After enrolling in the Department of Youth Development's Secrets of Modern Fattening course in MuktoPaath, they addressed these issues and witnessed increased profitability in their cattle-rearing endeavours. 

“By enrolling in this online course, we had the opportunity to acquire extensive knowledge on cow husbandry from the comfort of our own homes, completely free of charge. 

Consequently, we have witnessed increased profitability in our cattle-rearing endeavours compared to our previous practices.” 

According to her, ever since she enrolled in the courses back in 2019, she makes round Tk 2 lakh every year which allows Shiuli and her family to maintain a moderate lifestyle.

In 2020, as the Covid-19 outbreak intensified, the government of Bangladesh launched the Covid-19 awareness course through a2i's Muktopaath. The course contents were developed with the assistance of health directorates, local hospitals, and international health experts. 

Dr Nipa, a 41-year-old healthcare professional at Teknaf Union Health Complex, demonstrated the impact of training by completing the course, equipping herself with the knowledge and skills necessary to mitigate risks and effectively treat Covid-19 patients. 

Her dedication led to recognition through certificates and awards, enhancing her career. Dr Nipa expressed her gratitude, stating, "This course on Covid-19 was the country's first comprehensive program on the pandemic. It has greatly benefited both the general public and healthcare professionals.”      

Overall, the online platform has opened up a vast opportunity for income generation in Bangladesh, especially for individuals who possess creativity, technological knowledge, and a robust online media presence. With perseverance, diligence, and comprehensive familiarity with the platform, success is readily within reach for those with adequate skills and training. 

Developing the skills to be online

In connection with this, a minimal level of skill needs to be developed to allow this platform and others to be more viable as a strong source of livelihood. 

To use online platforms as a viable source of income in Bangladesh, individuals need to have a good level of digital literacy, including proficiency in using computers, smartphones, and online platforms. 

Besides, some technical skills such as photography, video production, graphic design, and copywriting could play a pivotal role in this domain. 

Individuals should be able to create engaging and relevant content that resonates with their audience. Along with these, a good understanding of the different online platforms, their features, and how they work is an essential thing for everyone. This includes knowledge of algorithms, hashtags, and trends. 

These approaches will help a potential online businessperson acquire a good understanding of business principles, such as financial management, customer service, inventory management, and understanding of marketing and advertising principles, including target audience analysis, promotional strategies, branding, and so on.

Further, an individual should abide by some principles in order to gain success with online platform business ventures. Being authentic and transparent with the audience can help build trust and credibility. If individuals demonstrate adherence to these principles, they possess the potential to get the best result from using the online platform.

Rumana Sharmin, Research Analyst, a2i. Md Afzal Hossain Sarwar, Policy Analyst (Educational Innovation), a2i. MD Abdullah Al Mamun, Young Professional, a2i. MD Rahmat Ullah, Young Professional, a2i.

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