Leila Janah on Samasource


By Leila Janah, the founder of Samasource.

Over one billion people live in extreme poverty, subsisting on $1.25 a day or less. Among the Millennium Development Goals determined by world leaders in 2000 is a target to achieve “full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.” Despite up to 90% literacy rates and increasing levels of per capita income being spent on higher education in developing countries, employment opportunities remain scarce, even in urban areas.

Samasource connects 900 marginalized people, from Kenyan youth to women in rural Pakistan, with dignified work opportunities via the Internet. Using the business process outsourcing model, we secure contracts from global organizations to provide digital services such as data entry, book digitization, Internet-based research, business listings verification, audio transcription, and video captioning.

The project is broken down into smaller tasks called “microwork” and then allocated to our Service Partners, for- and non-profit organizations currently in Haiti, India, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa, and Uganda. The work is completed by women, youth, and refugees using an Internet connection provided by our Service Partners, and sent back to Samasource for quality assurance and delivery to the client.

Samasource derives its name from the Sanskrit word “sama” which means equal. To date, Samasource has generated over $1.5 million in contract work for women, youth and refugee workers in nine countries. The work contracted to Samasource is real work for real companies that connects poor youth, women, and refugee workers to earned income from multinational companies, and will enable them to matriculate to higher paying jobs in the digital work sector. Samasource goes beyond job readiness programs and educational services by facilitating tangible, on-the-job experience that provides steady income and work skills.