Samasource Taps Silicon Valley to Create Jobs for Poor People

Friday, June 10, 2011

Forget microfinance. Leila Chiriyath Janah is betting that “microwork” can be an even more successful route to alleviate poverty. Samasource, her three year old San Francisco nonprofit, has found simple computer-based work for 1,200 people living in poverty in Kenya, India, Pakistan, Haiti, Uganda and South Africa. The paying clients? Technology companies like LinkedIn, Intuit and Google.

“We’re creating an entirely new type of company,” says Janah. By providing work to those who’ve never had it, “we’ve been able to transform communities of people.” (See my article in the new June 27 issue of Forbes about Samasource here.)

Janah, 28, came up with the idea for Samasource after eight years of wrestling with development issues -as an African development major at Harvard and a series of jobs that included a year at the World Bank. Ultimately she didn’t think aid was the right answer. “There’s a huge disconnect between what poor people were asking for and what aid agencies are delivering,” she laments. What so many of the people Janah met really wanted was a job that pays decently.

Source: Forbes (link opens in a new window)