A graduate who developed her own company straight after university to support the world’s poorest people in finding work has helped almost 7,000 find jobs in tech.
Leila Janah, who graduated from Harvard University with a degree in African Development Studies, was just 22 when her first graduate job as a management consultant took her to Mumbai in India.
Passing by one of the Asia’s largest slum areas, known as Dharavi, Ms Janah couldn’t help wonder how outsourcing was getting millions of people into work – while the poorest people weren’t being given the same opportunities.
Speaking with business technology magazine, Wired, Ms Janah, now 32, described how she took that idea and turned it into a not-for-profit outsourcing organisation called Samasource (‘sama’ is Sanskrit for ‘equal’) which connects the poorest people from across Africa and Asia to digital jobs with companies like Google and LinkedIn.
Recently, the award-winning businesswoman has helped more than 30 people in northern Uganda gain jobs with Getty Images which sees them perform daily tasks such as tagging pictures of Andy Murray and Rihanna.
She hasn’t stopped there though.
Continuing on with her mission to provide jobs to as many underprivileged people as she possibly can, Ms Janah launched Samaschool – a job-training program for low-income workers throughout America. The initiative has been so successful in the country that it’s now taking-off across the globe.
“I grew up believing in meritocracy and the American dream,” she told Wired. “My parents came here from India. They had no connections. My brother and I went to public schools, and both of us succeeded.”
Referring back to when she took time off from Harvard to do stints with the social entrepreneurship program Ashoka and the World Bank, Ms Janah said she emerged “pretty disillusioned” with traditional thinking about aid.
“Every time I’d talk to poor people, they’d tell me they wanted the same thing: a job,” she added.
Speaking about how politicians need to start taking-the-reins to develop solutions, Ms Janah also feels San Francisco – home to tech-hub Silicon Valley – needs to do more and said: “I wish the city of San Francisco, bastion of liberalism, were more innovative when it comes to how to spread the wealth.”Reuse content