New Samasource Overview July 22, 2009


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  • Paul Parach, 24, was born in a small village in South Sudan. At the age of ten, he was forced to leave his mother and four sisters in order to escape Sudan’s escalating civil war. He fled to Kenya in 1994. After weeks of walking across the country with other young boys in a similar situation, he arrived at the Kenyan border and then at Kakuma refugee camp.

    At the camp, “life became harrowing … because we had no parent[s].” There, Paul was shot in the right side of his stomach by a man from a rival tribe, and moved to the ICU in Nairobi. His leg was paralyzed. “[I was left with] a disability at the age of fourteen.”

    But Paul kept going. The UNHCR transfered him to Dadaab's Ifo camp in 1994. At first, Paul explains, “Life seemed to grow harder every day” because he had left home without his parents and without any education. Since then, however, he has learned English and made his way to secondary school. He's among only a handful of Dinka (people from South Sudan) in Dadaab—almost all of the 280,000 people there are Somali.

    Two weeks ago, I met Paul in Dadaab at a computer lab run by CARE International. I was there to run an experiment: could we get refugees to use computers to do work for a San Francisco company?

    Paul had touched a computer for the first time only a month before. But within the first hour of our training, Paul had learned how to use email and Google. By the next day, he was teaching his classmates how to complete the work we found for him to do.

    Paul is in our first class of refugee remote workers in Dadaab, doing work based on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk marketplace. Earning money in this way may be his only shot at putting himself through school.
  • Here’s our premise.

    1 billion youth will enter the job market
    42 million refugees with no opportunities for advancement
  • In our first six months, we identified 8 core service lines that are easily repeatable, lower-risk, and generally suited for our partners.
    One project that we’re proud of is our work with Benetech, a nonprofit in Palo Alto digitizing 100,000 books for blind readers. Our partner in Nairobi proofreads Benetech’s OCRed text files to achieve nearly 100% accuracy. We’ve also explored unique services such as Facebook application testing and basic website creation -- another client, recent CNN hero Rising Tide Capital, decided to use Samasource to help low-income microentrepreneurs in Jersey City build inexpensive websites. Our model is a win for clients, AND a win for workers.
  • Samasource derives its name from the Sanskrit word sama, which means “equal”. We empower the world's untapped talent - from refugees in Kenya to women in rural Pakistan - to deliver quality internet-based services, such as data entry and basic programming.

    Our model consists of three steps. First, we screen and select partners who employ local people to provide services, relying on stringent social impact and quality criteria that verify our partners' technical abilities and commitment to social responsibility. All of our partners are located in the poorest regions of the world, but have access to basic computing infrastructure.

    Next, we provide our partners with service-specific training and prepare them to further train their own staff using live sample projects and web-based tools. Finally, we market our partners' services to paying clients through a website and sales team based in San Francisco.

    Samasource is a 501(c)(3) non-profit social business. Our management team and global advisory board have over forty years of experience working in technology, remote work, and social and economic development for leading institutions such as the Clinton Foundation,, the Ford Foundation and the World Bank. Thus far, with an investment of only $35,000 from donors and an all-volunteer staff, Samasource has found more than $160,000 in projects for 13 small businesses, nonprofit training centers, and rural data centers that provide dignified jobs to more than 500 marginalized individuals in Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, and Pakistan.
  • New Samasource Overview July 22, 2009

    1. 1. give work.
    2. 2. Paul’s Story Paul Parach Dadaab, Kenya Refugee Work Program 24 years old, born in South Sudan Walked to Kakuma refugee camp at age nine Denied formal employment Learned how to use a computer one month ago Earning money with Samasource TM give work samasource
    3. 3. Wasted talent is one of poverty’s greatest ills. 1 billion youth will face 50% unemployment in the next decade 60% of the world’s working poor are women Computer-based work provides decent jobs. Basic technology tasks like data entry and image tagging can pay up to $5 an hour, over 10 times the average wage in low-income regions Samasource brings work to women, youth, and refugees to lift them out of poverty. TM give work samasource
    4. 4. The Consequence of Inaction “I joined the militia because I thought I could get paid after the war. I knew I was risking my life but I had no other choice. My mother was finding it hard to feed us. I joined to have a job.” Sylvestre, 18, Congo-Brazzaville. TM give work samasource
    5. 5. the samasource model screen train market + select 1 2 3 18 partners 6 countries 500+ people
    6. 6. Services and Clients research data entry and website app testing assistance digitization packages image content moderation updating virtual video assistance captioning Current + Former Clients TM give work samasource
    7. 7. Our Impact • 18 partners, 500+ people served in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan and Uganda since September 2008 • $160,000+ in work for our partners since September 2008 • 300 people trained in application development, project management, and customer service since March 2008 • Partnerships with Inveneo and Cisco to expand in East Africa • Winner, Facebook Fund REV, Stanford Social Enterprise Challenge, Business in Development Challenge Press Coverage TM give work samasource
    8. 8. Our Impact: Maria’s Story Maria Islamabad, Pakistan Founder, Women’s Digital League "For me and other women in Pakistan, Samasource is our own ray of light, our way of escaping the claustrophobic environment surrounding us." Cannot work outside her home Master’s Degree in English Before Samasource: <$200/month After Samasource: $850+/month, 3 employees TM give work samasource
    9. 9. Our Team Leila Chirayath Janah Jess McCarter Founder and CEO VP of Sales Former Visiting Scholar, Stanford University Founder. Sagebit Consultant, Katzenbach Partners Founder, RideBit World Bank Development Research Group Consultant, BA, Harvard University (African BA, Dartmouth University Development Studies) Expertise: Start-ups, 10 years in software Expertise: Remote work, social sales and development enterprise, development Alex Onsager Kate Brennan Marketing and Sales MBA Intern Tech Lead Investment Banking, JPMorgan Developer, Send Hotness and Graffiti Private Equity, Shamrock Capital Advisors (leading Facebook applications) BBA & BA, University of Iowa Co-founder, Demigo pursuing MBA, Stanford Graduate School of BS, Stanford Business Expertise: Web application Expertise: Media, entertainment and development, product management technology investing Advisory Board Ken Banks Darren Berkowitz Katherine Barr Bruce Cahan CEO, Frontline SMS Founder & CEO, Partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures Founder, Urban Logic Mohamoud Jibrell Robert Hockett Premal Shah Emeka Okafor CIO, Ford Foundation Professor, Cornell Law School President, Director, TED Global Melissa Lau Joy Sun Associate, Revolution Ventures Director, Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative
    10. 10. How you can help We need to raise $50K in the next two months to keep operating. Please donate, tell your friends, or give us work. TM give work samasource