It’s perplexing to observe that with hundreds of thousands of graduates churned out of colleges and universities each year our countries’ policy makers are missing an opportunity online for all these folks.
At present government policy in respect of technology or ICT is really geared towards making ordinary folks including jobless ones consumers of the internet and not earners from it.
Zimbabwe is one of the best-placed countries globally to hit it big online by exporting digital skills without having to physically ship people across borders.
We have the necessary ingredients here from fairly good written and spoken English, a remarkable aptitude to find workarounds when conditions and situations oppose us and a growing internet penetration.
I personally think digital skills export should really be a mass government initiative supported by a right policy framework. It has the capacity to turn out to be a big foreign currency earner for this economy.
In the absence of such vision at leadership level I present a few options for individual Zimbabweans to work and make a living online.
These options are based on my personal experience as something I do and have done in the past several years on both ends as seller and buyer.
My advice is that anyone thinking to work online and making a living off it must think business. This means there is a need to develop a systematic way and approach to working that parallels a proper business enterprise.
This entails a proper business strategy, strong work ethic, discipline, setting targets, knowing your costs, continually developing your skills and so on.
There is really no way, anyway, to escape some of these realities because digital marketplaces of this sort are reputation based and naturally weed out folks that tend to game the system. The platforms rely on sufficient level of good reputation to thrive.
Here are some selected places online that could get you started.
Fiverr (referral link) calls itself the “Marketplace for Creative & Professional Services”. On Fiverr you can sell just about any skill that you have from graphics design, creative writing to parenting tips.
This means you can teach yourself new skills with the intention to sell that skill on Fiverr or any of these marketplaces.
Fiverr is big with both sellers selling their services and buyers buying these services. Services or gigs start at only $5.00. The real money is made in up-sells where a single gig can end up costing $10 to a $100 depending on service offered.
When you sell on Fiverr you can get paid in Zimbabwe via the Fiverr Revenue Card (which is a Payoneer product – NB referral link) or Bank transfer (also via Payoneer).
In both cases you will be able to withdraw your money from anyway in the world on an ATM. Paypal is an option but is currently not available in Zimbabwe when receiving payments.
Upwork, formerly Elance, is also a massive marketplace for selling cutting edge digital skills.
While Elance has been commonly known over the years for more technical services such as mobile app development, programming and what not it is also open to other skills such as content writers and copywriters.
Compared to Fiverr, Upwork offers more polished skills and services and therefore attracts higher fees which is great for sellers or freelancers.
It lures high worth jobs in the range of several hundreds to several thousands of dollars sometimes taking weeks or months to complete.
Upwork still pays out freelancers via direct Wire Transfer, Skrill (indirect wire transfer) and Payoneer (card) which is suitable for Zimbabwe. It also has an option for PayPal.
This is a designers marketplace for logo design, packaging design, website skins among other services. If digital designing is your food or you are working towards it, this is a marketplace to check out.
The good news is that you will get paid because 99Designs pays out using Payoneer and Skrill. PayPal is also an available option though not applicable for Zimbabwe.
This platform like Upwork also attracts high-value serious jobs. It follows that to make it here, your skill and delivery must necessarily be world class as you will be competing with self-made designers and designers from some of the top designer schools from around the globe.
Though not similar to any of the marketplaces above, I include Google Adsense here as a viable monetisation option for individuals or companies with online content-rich properties.
If you run a blog or website with good and high-value traffic Google Adsense could earn you a couple of hundreds to thousands of dollars monthly. I highly recommend this monetisation method for sites focused on high-value niches.
It is also possible to create sites with high value, useful, search engine friendly content with the intention of monetizing them using Google Adsense and affiliate products.
In my experience, Google has one of the most efficient payment methods which worked fine until the cash crisis.
Still on their part they make sure to get your payments within two to five days of each payment cycle via wire transfer to your Zimbabwe bank account. Other countries can however, receive payments via Western Union as an option, for example.
To balance thinks about a bit, am including Amazon here which also pays out to Zimbabwe via Payoneer as a deserving platform to explore for folks interested in writing books. There are are a number of options available in this regard on Amazon such as publishing to Kindle, publishing to print and publishing to audio.
You could also use other self publishing platforms such as Lulu which connects you seamlessly to Amazon marketplace to sell your books. The true digital advantage is that you hold no book stock, and that your market is global.
Real success in this field is dependent on a number of factors including quality of writing, number of books published, targeted audience, price and marketing strategy even after your book is listed on Amazon.
Some writers have also succeeded on Amazon by writing short stories or series captivating stories that snowball into a huge buying readership.
I am certain there are more marketplaces on the web suitable for Zimbabweans which I have left-out or missed. You are invited to add them in the comments below.