Picture this: you’re at home one night, browsing through Facebook as usual. A friend’s posted photos, he’s holidaying somewhere exotic. You start thinking, “How expensive would it be to go on a vacation like that?”
You weigh the pros and cons. Pros: It looks awesome. Cons: It looks expensive. You’ve got a job, sure. But it doesn’t pay enough, or else you wouldn’t be dreaming. So how do I make some cash on the side?
Fortunately for you, you’ve got a solid set of rock-star design skills at your disposal. And you’ve got an hour or two to spare after work every day. Now if only there was some platform for me to connect to people who need, and are willing to pay for the skills I can offer them.
Enter Nabbesh.com, the Middle East’s first online marketplace for freelancing. Founded by Loulou Khazen Baz in 2012, the same year she won the inaugural season of the reality TV show, The Entrepreneur, along with a cash prize of AED 1 million. What started with just a handful of users is now the #1 source for freelancers and entrepreneurs in the Middle East.
Nabbesh.com allows businesses to flexibly source work based on a budget and level of quality convenient to them. This ability to micro-source expertise between several individuals and businesses on a variety of jobs, is a fairly novel concept in the region. It also allows talented individuals to develop alternative sources of income which can improve their lifestyle at the same time.
We caught up with the lovely Loulou, eager to know more about Nabbesh.
1. Let’s talk about the impact Nabbesh has had in the region, and the type of people that use the platform.
Over the past 12 months, Nabbesh.com has enabled over 5000 entrepreneurs, business owners and hiring managers to connect with and hire freelancers on the platform with the demand mostly focusing on the following top 5 industries:
- 28% Design which includes graphic design, illustration, web design and more
- 16% Writing, editing and translation
- 13% Web development
- 9% Video production, Audio & Photography
- 9% Business and administrative support
2. Tell us about your journey so far, before and after starting the company.
I started Nabbesh in 2012. I completed my undergrad in hospitality and tourism management in Australia before moving to Dubai in 2003. From there, I’ve worked for Daimler Chrysler financial services, Dubai Properties and then ActiveM.
Founding Nabbesh.com has been like throwing me on the learning expressway. My biggest lesson was that “time” is an invaluable resource, often taken for granted. When you’re an entrepreneur, there are several elements in your life that compete for your time; your business, investors, team, friends, family, health and more. I had to learn the hard way how to put my foot down and control how I spend time.
It’s essential to understand how important your team is. I’ve come to understand that no matter what, they are the heart of soul of your business. In just 3 years, Nabbesh.com has grown from an idea to a business, supporting a community of 60,000 people. I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve put into it so far. And we’re only getting started!
3. In your opinion, what hurdles do freelancers in the region face and how does Nabbesh solve the problem, or work around it?
Freelancers in the region face 3 main hurdles: Access to a constant supply of jobs to make a living, access to quality jobs in order for them to learn and develop their skills, and getting paid on time !
Nabbesh.com provides freelancers with a “virtual storefront” where they can showcase their skills and their work. They have the liberty of being able to select and qualify the jobs that are posted. Once they get notified about a job, it’s up to them whether or not to bid on the job and work on it, based on its requirements and the client’s deadlines. We then guarantee that they will get paid for their work by offering them a framework to safely communicate with clients, request for deposits based on milestones and then earn a rating and review once they deliver the work. Earning that rating is crucial for them to win more work and it’s a win-win cycle!
Most of our freelancers are full time freelancers, there are some that currently have day jobs and use the site to either earn an extra income by doing extra work over weekends or monetize their passion or hobby.
Because of the rating & reviews, clients can rest assured that freelancers are heavily incentivized to deliver great work as their reputation depends on it!
As for the freelancers, Nabbesh.com provides them with an escrow facility where they can request advance payments from clients as well as access to our customer support that can assist them in mediating any potential issues with clients. We want freelancers to worry about delivering great work and not worry about chasing payment!
5. Where do you place yourself among Odesk, Elance, Laimoon?
At Nabbesh.com, we focus purely on talent from the region. We’re a young company and we care about all our clients and freelancers. We’re on the ground, reachable and always ready to assist.
Above all, we’re taking extra steps to incentivize quality freelancers by adding them to our “A-list” and hence giving them access to high quality & high value jobs! Some of our top freelancers can bill AED 40,000 in a span of 2 weeks.
6. What’s the earning potential you feel is possible for freelancers?
Our freelancers can make anywhere between AED 365 for a simple translation job to AED 15,000 for a WordPress website to AED 165,000 for a project management contract!
7. What goals is Nabbesh focusing on now?
We recently launched Nabbesh.com in Arabic and our focus is to grow our community in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the rest of the Arabic speaking markets. We want to improve the connectivity between companies and an important demographic, the Arabic speaking community of freelancers in those regions.
Have you tried freelancing in the UAE? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
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