Women’s Digital League

Women’s Digital League

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Last Update: January 13, 2014

Maria UmarMaria UmarFounder

WDL is a virtual firm providing digital services to clients, proudly owned and powered by Pakistani women. It is working for economic development of the country by mobilizing a vast dormant workforce which is either discouraged from working outside or has trouble finding work opportunities.

Founded: 2010 Type: hybrid

The Problem

There is a huge dormant workforce comprising of educated, skilled women who for various reasons cannot work outside their homes. Women make up 50% of Pakistan’s population and 59% of them between the age of 18 and 27 are educated. Girls in remote areas are given education by NGOs but they don't have work opportunities and hence not enough incentive to study.

The Solution

WDL's focus is on: -women in rural areas without the necessary infrastructure or training to do digital tasks 2- Women in urban areas discouraged from working outside or too busy with family lives to have full time careers The first tier works out of IT Centers in their villages on data entry and data conversion tasks. These women are trained by WDL and partnering organizations. These NGOs or Not-For-Profits have a long history of working with these communities making it easier to persuade male members to allow women to work out of the IT Centers operated by them. Second tier joins WDL's online portal where they can work on advance tasks like wordpress, writing, graphic designing etc for which they are screened and tested by WDL.

Example

3 years ago we convinced a NFP in the remote northern areas of Pakistan not to shut down an Internet Café going into loss. We turned it into an IT Training center for local women where we trained and gave them small micro-tasks to do. Women with post-graduate degrees who had no choice but to stay home or work in the fields were now putting their education to and use and being connected to dignified computer-based work. Now that IT center has given birth to 7 more centers with over 300 people under training in various courses for online earning. This simple work paying $3/hr is life-changing in an area with 100% literacy rate but with majority of population living in utmost poverty.

Impact

We have worked with several Pakistani women over the last few years belonging to both rural and urban areas. They have worked on tasks for US-based clients doing things like data entry, data conversion, content writing, graphic designing, social media management and SEO. We ran a pilot project in Karimabad, Hunza. With limited work we were able to employ 6 women full time for a month. That's when the impact of this idea really hit us. Now we are doing capacity building with our partner and have trained about 200 people in last 2 months. The training will run for another year. 50% of the trainees are women who will then be connected to work through us. The same pilot program will be expanded to other areas of Pakistan. By providing not only training but also work opportunities from their homes or villages we give an incentive to people to send girls to school.

Budget: $10,000 - $50,000

Sustainability Plan

NGOs and NFPs working on capacity building and skill development will be made partners. First year they will pay 20% commission on total revenue from work sent to their workers. 2nd year onward, a fee will be charged if they want to continue receiving work and training from us plus 30% commission. Similarly, advance level urban service providers will be taken on board to take on higher paying tasks for which we charge them 30% commission.

Marketplace

Major competitors are portals like oDesk, Elance and Freelancer since they not only take the clients but also attract a lot of the workforce that would rather work with an established system than trust in a new one. India and Philippines are big competitors. Most freelancers & companies offer niche services e.g. website-related work, administrative tasks, writing or data entry. At WDL the goal is to provide all these services under 1 umbrella. It won't be hit & miss as all workers will be screened and matched by us. Also being a social enterprise gives that extra gratification.

Founding Story

When I had my 2nd child I had to leave my teaching job. It wasn't possible for me to work fulltime with an infant. I had heard of people working online as "content writers" so I searched on Google. That was the beginning of a new life for me. Working online from home with clients from around the world on portal such as oDesk was very exciting. It was then I heard about the Picth Night Competition arranged by Women 2.0. and I entered idea for an all-female remote team of Pakistani service providers which received great feedback. There has been no looking back.

Team Members

Challenges

Women Powering Work: Innovations for Economic Equality in the MENA Region

Innovation

Elevator Pitch: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences. Share a concise summary. This will be the first introductory text about your solution that viewers will see.

WDL is a virtual firm providing digital services to clients, proudly owned and powered by Pakistani women. It is working for economic development of the country by mobilizing a vast dormant workforce which is either discouraged from working outside or has trouble finding work opportunities.

Problem: What problem is this solution trying to solve? Describe the specific context within which this solution operates.

There is a huge dormant workforce comprising of educated, skilled women who for various reasons cannot work outside their homes. Women make up 50% of Pakistan’s population and 59% of them between the age of 18 and 27 are educated. Girls in remote areas are given education by NGOs but they don't have work opportunities and hence not enough incentive to study.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Be specific!

WDL's focus is on:
-women in rural areas without the necessary infrastructure or training to do digital tasks
2- Women in urban areas discouraged from working outside or too busy with family lives to have full time careers

The first tier works out of IT Centers in their villages on data entry and data conversion tasks. These women are trained by WDL and partnering organizations. These NGOs or Not-For-Profits have a long history of working with these communities making it easier to persuade male members to allow women to work out of the IT Centers operated by them.

Second tier joins WDL's online portal where they can work on advance tasks like wordpress, writing, graphic designing etc for which they are screened and tested by WDL.

Women Powering Work

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following challenges?

Recruitment practices such as job postings, job fairs, and more

Does your project utilize any of the strategies below?

Customizing technology such as mobile phones, websites, or telecommuting tools to enable greater economic participation

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