empowering the poor through remote work
give work, not aid.TM
Unemployment is one of poverty’s greatest ills.
1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day, mainly in Africa and Asia.
Hundreds of millions of them have skills, but can’t ﬁnd digniﬁed work.
Computer-based tasks provide decent jobs.
Computer-based “remote work” like data entry and image tagging can pay up
to $5 an hour, improving livelihoods among the world’s poorest people.
Samasource links people in need with clients
who pay them to get work done.
The problem: the world has a talent surplus
277% of per-capita income is
spent on tertiary education in some
175M+ skilled workers in very
poor regions are cut off from markets
“The dilemma in Kenya, and Africa
60% unemployment among at large, is that the cost of
university and high school graduates education is getting so high...upon
= ﬁnishing, you can’t get a job that will
offer returns commensurate with
what you’ve done in school.”
Talent Freda Adundo, IT degree
Surplus candidate, Kenya
The solution: ﬁnd people remote work
The services below can be completed by people anywhere, with basic training and IT
These services earn people between $3 and $5 an hour, about 10 times what they’d
research data entry and website app testing
assistance digitization packages
assistance in Kenya
Sama means “equal” in Sanskrit. We
are a social business that helps bright
but marginalized people in poor
regions ﬁnd digniﬁed jobs.
We work with locally-owned small
businesses and nonproﬁt training
centers to connect people who
want to work with paying clients
who need services.
Our method has three parts:
1 2 3
1. Screening and Selection
Our partners include locally-owned businesses, nonproﬁts, and groups of home-based
workers that pass our rigorous selection process. Our consultants screen potential partners
for social impact and quality with an application process, interviews, and site visits.
Social Impact Screening Objectives Quality Screening Objectives
• Find motivated, talented partners
• Get money into high poverty areas
• Ensure partners possess the right skills
• Keep money in high poverty areas
• Ensure access to adequate IT
• Keep money in good companies
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Founded by: Mugure Mugo Location: Nairobi, Kenya
(left) Founded by: Stephen Muthee
Services: data entry, Services: proofreading, data
transcription, and captioning entry, transcription
Our training program is based on client demand. Samasource beneﬁciaries build skills
that earn them increased income, such as application testing for social netwowrks.
Core Curriculum Modules Technical Training
Project Quality Client
Management Assurance Communication
Software • Speaking and
• Microsoft Ofﬁce • Basecamp (web- • Error-reporting and communication skills
(Word, Excel, and monitoring
based project • Negotiating skills
Power Point) software
management) • Feedback and Over 300 young people beneﬁted from
• Firefox and Chrome • Google Docs (free • Templates for error response times
(open source reporting to clients our Facebook Developer Garages in
web-based project • Seeking further help/
tools) guidance Africa last year.
• Web-based • Dropbox (web- Skills • Resources for
based ﬁle storage • Accurate QA skills further study
• Web-based ﬁle for project • Common QA • Scenario/role-
management metrics requested playing with sample
by clients clients
Skills • Common mistakes
• Data entry and • Time management in QA
• Team time tracking • Preparing QA
• Image moderation • Time reporting reports
• Video/audio • Problem reporting
• Content updating
• Application testing
We market our partners’ services to global clients with a cutting-edge website and sales
team, resulting in direct income increase for our beneﬁciaries. So far, we’ve found over
$150,00 in work for partners in Africa.
Website / Social Media
• < $5K contracts
• Cross-platform distribution with
oDesk, Elance, other partners
• Trafﬁc driven through video
marketing, Facebook, Twitter,
free ad campaigns
Sales Team • $10K-$100K contracts
• RFPs and word of mouth
• Web-based RFP searches,
connections (e.g., Benetech)
We believe that the only comprehensive method for reducing poverty is giving
work, not aid, to the world’s poorest people.
Our model is 100% sustainable. With each job we ﬁnd for our partners,
Samasource earns a 10% fee, fully covering the cost of our operations in two
All-volunteer staff 85-90% of earnings
to directly to our
Donated hardware partners
45-85% of their
Frugal to the core revenue supports
staff salaries, training,
and other costs
Our Impact: Maria’s Story
“ I am a very optimistic person, optimistic to the point where most think I’m a little
crazy. Most of my acquaintances have a “glass-half-empty” approach to life, but I
won’t change the way I am. Why? Because good things have happened when I was
least expecting them. Like Samasource.
It’s been several months since I started working with Samasource as a virtual
assistant. Seeing the work Samasource is doing for people in countries like Kenya
and Pakistan has been a source of inspiration. Speaking as a citizen of Pakistan,
there is huge scope and potential for an organization like Samasource.
Founder, Pakistan Women’s Pakistan is a strong patriarchal society with little distinction between culture and
Computer Collective religion with women on the losing end. Though most women are denied the
opportunity for education, some, like me, are able to attain degrees. To be educated
and unable to use that education is stiﬂing. Samasource offers to women a way out
as a balance between conforming to cultural norms and utilizing skills whether it be
writing, programming or web development. It gives an opportunity for women
entrepreneurs to step forward and start their own companies from their homes and
ﬁnd work through Samasource.
Being an entrepreneur is about dreaming and having the courage to try and make
that dream into reality. Samasource has renewed my belief in people. It takes a
whole lot of darkness to make it dark but only a small ﬂicker of light to cut through it.
That’s what Samasource means to me and other women in Pakistan; it’s our own
ray of light, our way of escaping the claustrophobic environment surrounding us.
Our Impact: Mugure’s Story
“ I am 39 years old and married to an Architect, named Edward Mugo. We have been married for close to eleven years and have 3
daughters, aged ﬁve, three and one and a half. I began my career working for a number of companies here in Kenya, mostly in
marketing positions. My last employed position was as Marketing Manager for a large ﬁrm based in Nairobi, a position I held until
1998, when I lost the job through retrenchment.
Towards the end of 2001, I attended a conference here in Nairobi, sponsored by the UN. Panelists discussed the need for African
countries to move away from traditional exports and look for new opportunities, particularly those brought about by new
technology. Kenya has a vast pool of well-educated, English-speaking professionals and I thought we could take advantage of
Internet technology to competitively market professional services to developed economies. In April 2002, I developed a business
called Preciss to provide back-ofﬁce services to overseas companies.
I promptly began marketing our ﬁrst service offering, online internet research, to companies based in USA and UK. By August, I
had bagged my ﬁrst client, and had made a small amount of money. At this point, Preciss was a two-person operation – with me
playing the marketing role and my employee, a young female college graduate, doing the actual research work. We worked out of
a converted 2-bedroom apartment which served as an ofﬁce for Preciss and one other company, to whom I had sublet one
In January 2003, things began to slow down as I was now expecting my ﬁrst child. Throughout my pregnancy and for six months
Mugure Mugo after my daughter was born, business came to a complete standstill as I was unable to engage in productive work. I however
Nairobi, Kenya kept the ofﬁce and paid rent and monthly bills from my savings. I resumed active business in March 2004 having lost close to a
year and a half, and continued offering online research. My ﬁrst client was a US-based company that employed ﬁve new internet
researchers. I then introduced transcription services in March 2005, and we began working for a large transcription company
based in Maryland, USA. For this, we employed eight transcribers. In August 2005, we added captioning and subtitling services
and began serving two large captioning houses in USA and UK.
Last year, we discovered Samasource, a nonproﬁt in California that helps companies like ours market services in the US.
Samasource has won us a large contract with a nonproﬁt in Palo Alto, digitizing books. We have now grown from a 2-person
operation to a capacity of 80 employees as at May this year. Last year, we were able to receive our ﬁrst round of funding from a
local investment fund, and this will enable us to employ at least 200 workers in the next eighteen months.
At a personal level, doing business as a wife and mother presents unique challenges as I have to ﬁnd a balance between growing
my business and my very real responsibilities at home. My ﬁve-year-old daughter constantly admonishes me to stay at home with
her and her sisters, while she is happy to say goodbye to daddy every morning, because he is “going to work to make some
money for us”.
To be a successful entrepreneur requires focus, perseverance, persistence and a good amount of faith in one’s cause.
Leila Chirayath Janah Jess McCarter
CEO VP of Sales
Visiting Scholar, Stanford University Founder. Sagebit
Consultant, Katzenbach Partners Founder, RideBit
World Bank Development Research Group
BA, Harvard University (African
BA, Dartmouth University
Expertise: start-ups, 10 years in software
Expertise: Outsourcing, social
sales and development
Alex Onsager Henry Thairu
Kenya Program Advisor
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Jomo Kenyatta
Developer, Send Hotness and Grafﬁti University of Agriculture and Technology
(leading Facebook applications)
Chairman, Kenya Council of Science and Tech
PhD, Norwegian University of Science and
BS, Stanford Technology, Trondheim (Thermodynamics)
Expertise: web application Expertise: Entrepreneurship,
development, product management education, technology
Premal Shah Darren Berkowitz Ken Banks
President, Kiva Founder & CEO, DoMyStuff.com Developer of Frontline SMS
Emeka Okafor Katherine Barr Mohamoud Jibrell
Director, TED Global Partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures CIO, Ford Foundation
Leila Chirayath Janah, CEO
Leila founded Samasource in 2008 after nearly a decade of working to ﬁght
poverty in Africa. In less than a year and with minimal funding, she led a team of
over 15 volunteers to source $150,000 in contracts for small ﬁrms in the
poorest parts of the world. Through her work with Samasource, Leila has been
invited to serve as a Social Enterprise Institute Fellow and a speaker at over 50
conferences on technology, development, and social entrepreneurship around
Leila is a founding director of Incentives for Global Health, an organization
formed by Professors Thomas Pogge and Aidan Hollis and advised by Nobel
Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen to develop new ﬁnancing mechanisms
for pharmaceutical R&D on diseases of the poor. She has served as a Visiting
Scholar with the Stanford Program on Global Justice and a Visiting Researcher
Leila Chirayath Janah at Australian National University’s Center for Applied Philosophy and Public
Founder and CEO Ethics.
Earlier in her career, Janah worked for Katzenbach Partners, a management
consulting ﬁrm based in New York, and as a consultant to the World Bank,
Ashoka, and Eco-Yoff, a small NGO in Senegal. As an undergraduate, she
researched and wrote for the Let’s Go guidebook series in Southeast Asia and
Latin America. Leila holds a BA in African Development Studies from Harvard
University and a certiﬁcate in Community Development from Pontiﬁcate Catholic
University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Jess McCarter, Head of Sales
Jess graduated from Dartmouth College in 1999 with a BA in Psychology and Minor in
International Relations. He has long been interested in issues of fairness; this led him to
Samasource after 10 years in the for-proﬁt sector as a salesman, an entrepreneur and a project
manager in the real estate and technology sectors. At Samasource, Jess is helping to address
poverty by locating remote work for talented entrepreneurs all over the world.
Starting in real estate, Jess managed the rehabilitation of aging properties in Southern California
and Brooklyn, New York. Other projects included a high-end landscape art gallery which featured
an art education program for K-6 students. After ﬁve successful years in real estate, he
transitioned into technology. As the co-founder of Sagebit, LLC, a web application development
ﬁrm specializing in open source technologies, Jess built up a a sales and consulting business. He
helped guide product development both at his ﬁrm and for clients. He also project managed large
scale technology implementations with teams located around the globe.
Head of Sales Jess is now working with the team at Samasource to build an international sales network.
Reaching out to not for proﬁts, educational institutions, government and private enterprise, he is
driving new sales, forging creative alliances with providers to solve customer business problems
and creating a team of dedicated project managers to keep the projects of existing customers on
track. With providers, clients and projects around the world, the work is hectic and challenging but
Jess has always been a part of socially conscious organizations, from his days in high school with
Amnesty International to his current work with Samasource. In addition to web application
development and technology he really enjoys traveling to new parts of the world and learning
about their culture and particularly their cuisines. As he builds his knowledge of the world he
becomes more effective at ﬁnding clients, learning their needs and helping to source them
innovative solutions from talented providers around the globe.