Partner Update: Samasource
By: Amy Millington
Last November, we announced our newest partner for change, Samasource. Founded in 2008 by Leila Janah, Samasource is a nonprofit that connects people living in poverty to work via the Internet. Since we introduced Samasource in November, the organization has connected more than 2,000 women, youth, and refugees to work, and paid out more than $1.5 million to workers. Samasource has continued to advance, and we thought we’d share a few of their most exciting achievements from the past five months.
Most recently, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and The Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Judith Rodin announced Samasource as one of the recipients of the Secretary’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. The award was created to identify and support innovative ideas that hold the promise of transforming the lives of women and girls around the world, and Samasource was one of three winning organizations from around the world. A distinguished panel of judges consisting of Mohammed Yunus (Grameen Bank), Cherie Blair (Cherie Blair Foundation), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Beth Brook (Ernst and Young) and Noeleen Heyzer (United Nations) selected the winners, each of whom will receive US $500,000 to scale their work. Samasource plans to use this grant to employ an additional 1,000 women and youth in East Africa.
Secretary Clinton announced the winners at an event on March 9 where she remarked, “This new way of bringing opportunity to impoverished areas has gotten a lot of attention. Samasource is partnering with investors like the Ford Foundation, the eBay Foundation, and Google.org. I had the privilege of meeting its founder last fall and was very intrigued and impressed by what she was doing. I had no idea that she was going to be selected for this award, but I am delighted that she has been.” You can read more about the award, watch Secretary Clinton’s full remarks, and see Leila Janah accept the honor here.
In addition to this important distinction, Samasource is also a partner in a project that recently received a major boost from the Dutch National Postcode Lottery. Together with Oxfam Novib, the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) and Inveneo, they are rolling-out a project called Internet Now! in northern Uganda that will provide up to 100 rural communities with reliable, affordable and high-speed connection to the Internet. The project has a direct focus on services providing work and income to community members through the Internet, and each location will be solar-powered. Recognizing the innovative, groundbreaking nature of the project, the Dutch National Postcode Lottery awarded the organizations a Dream Fund grant of over €7 million (nearly US $10 million). Through the award and the subsequent launch of the project, Samasource will be able to expand its innovative model to northern Uganda. You can read the announcement here.
And that’s not all! Shortly after announcing our partnership with Samasource, Harvard Business School (HBS) published a case study on the organization that explores the organization’s background, structure and innovative model. Titled “Samasource: Give Work, Not Aid,” it also presents the organization’s primary challenge, namely how to continue to grow Samasource’s capability to help individuals around the globe through the provision of digital work. As with all HBS case studies, the piece is primarily meant as a teaching tool to provide students with a way to apply conceptual material to real-world business situations. In this way, students are exposed to Samasource’s work and invited to think creatively about how they would approach and manage the organization’s challenges. It’s a profound endorsement of the organization’s work and we’re pleased it will engage students around the world on not just Samasource’s work, but also the broader issue of economic opportunity. You can learn more (and, if you are so inclined, you can purchase the case study) here.
Samasource has certainly had a busy past few months and we’ve been excited to be a part of their ongoing progress. As the organization continues to grow, and as Leila and her team continue to reach new heights, we’ll be sure to keep you updated!