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The online freelancing industry in the Philippines is bullish and shows no signs of slowing

Popular online staffing sites Elance and oDesk merged in December 2013 to become Elance-oDesk. Though they each continued to maintain their separate platforms, the deal made effectively created the largest online company for freelance services in the world, dwarfing competitor Freelancer.

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Among other benefits to the merger, the Elance-oDesk partnership gives the public greater insight into the state of the online freelance industry in the Philippines. In a report the company released today, the company reveals how the freelancing industry remains as robust as ever.

According to the report, Elance-oDesk boasts of more than 8 million freelancers spread across 180 countries. One eighth of those freelancers – a full 1 million people – hail from the Philippines. These freelancers perform work in a wide range of fields, from design and programming to administration and marketing.

Elance-oDesk freelancers generated more than US$750 million worldwide in 2013, of which US$76 million (3.3 billion PhP) was produced in the Philippines. From January 2010 to April 2014, the country’s freelancers have earned more than US$207 million (9 billion PhP).

In 2013, Elance-oDesk’s top performing city was Metro Manila, which is the country’s financial capital and most populous region. Freelancers in Metro Manila earned US$29.9 million (1.3 billion Php) for the year. The next top earning cities were Illigan at US$7.8 million (342 million PhP), Bacolod at US$5 million (221 million PhP), and Davao at US$4 million (174 million PhP).

The slide deck provided to Tech in Asia did not mention the average annual or monthly earnings of an Elance-oDesk user. However, the two freelancers who earned the most money on both Elance and oDesk in 2013 point to the potential of working online. One freelancer, from Gingoog, earned US$60,000 (2.6 million PhP) on Elance. His counterpart at oDesk earned US$172,000 (7.5 million PhP), all from his hometown in Cavite, a province just outside Metro Manila. The minimum daily wage in the National Capital Region is set at US$10.73 (466 PhP).

See: Amidst boom in Aussie outsourcing and freelancing, Elance-oDesk launches in Australia

Keeping Filipinos in the Philippines

Of course, these success stories are probably the exception rather than the rule. But even if most freelancers on Elance-oDesk earn healthy, if unremarkable wages, the company’s steady growth in the country illustrates how the internet can enable Filipinos to earn revenue from their native home. For a country that faces a labor drain both among skilled and unskilled workers, that ought to provide further long-term benefits.

But they still attest to the fact that Filipinos can successfully compete in a global marketplace with people from all over the world. If Filipinos take note of these success stories and brave the digital divide at Elance or oDesk or even another competitor, the country can lose fewer of its best and brightest to the brain drain.

Editing by Josh Horwitz

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