The so-called gig economy continues to grow by the day. Increasingly, everyone from programmers and developers to copywriters and graphic designers are making a living one job at a time, working when they want rather than being stuck in the 9-to-5 grind shackled to a desk.
Many people in Colombia have taken to this lifestyle. Other “digital nomads” from across the world have realized that the country is great place to live if you’re not tied to specific office or location. And some just like the ability to pick up some extra work here and there.
One company helping connect clients and independent workers is Freelancer.com. It was one of the early leaders in the space and has shown a lot of growth recently in Latin America, allowing organizations from across the world to tap into the large and underutilized talent pool from Mexico to Colombia to Brazil.
Last week the company announced another major move that will further increase its presence in the region. It has acquired Nubelo and Prolancer, former competitors in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds, respectively, that will now join its sprawling global network.
Nubelo is headquartered in Barcelona, but two of its co-founders are a pair of brothers from Argentina, where it now expects its Buenos Aires office to expand. It has has an office in Bogotá and has received support from Startup Chile, among others. So its LatAm roots go deep — and are only getting deeper.
When Freelancer.com launched is regional operations in 2012, the Spanish and Portuguese made up less than 0.2% of its operations. Four years later — with 1.8 million users in Latin America who have completed more than half a million jobs — that figure has ballooned to about 10% of the network’s total revenue.
To find out a bit more about what these acquisitions mean for the network in Colombia, Jared Wade of Finance Colombia recently chatted with Antonia Bensusan of Freelancer.com to find out some more details about how it operates in the country.
Finance Colombia: What type of a use user base does Freelancer.com — and the new acquisitions — have in Colombia?
Antonia Bensusan: Freelancer.com has 141,759 users in Colombia that work mostly on projects related to graphic design, website design, and software development.
Finance Colombia: Where are they finding the most work?
Antonia Bensusan: Colombian freelancers are mostly hired by those in the United States, India, Colombia, Spain, and the United Kingdom, in that order.
Finance Colombia: Medellín is seen as a leader in the region as far as innovation and a place where programmers and developers thrive. Do you see a lot of interest from Medellín? How about Bogotá?
Antonia Bensusan: Both Medellín and Bogotá are key cities for our business. Together, they represent 35% of our Colombian user base.
Finance Colombia: How have you pushed for more growth in Colombia? Are there key partnerships that are driving business in the country?
Antonia Bensusan: As it is such a key country in the Latin American region, Nubelo has an office in Colombia, and Freelancer.com has really close relationships with its government. We have been partners of the Colombian government in the communication, implementation, and support of the “Plan Vive Digital” (Live Digital Plan) in Colombia for the last three years.
Sebastian Siseles, director of international at Freelancer.com, has been invited several times to Colombia as international speaker at different events in Bogotá, Cali, and Medellín.
Finance Colombia: What is the overall goal in terms of these partnerships?
Antonia Bensusan: The goal of this strategic alliance is is to assist the Colombian government in creating a framework of cooperation to push forward the telework and freelance work in Colombia as an instrument to increase business productivity, generate sustainable mobility, and foment organizational innovation of the various entities.
Together, we are aiming to improve the quality of life of the employees and promote the effective use of information and communication technologies.