Leila Chirayath Janah to Speak on “Ending Poverty in the Digital Age” at TEDx Silicon Valley

The aid industry, ranging from multilateral banks and financial institutions to large NGOs, has come under fire for pumping billions into fragile economies in poor countries with few results. Despite this surge in aid, many of the world’s poor are worse off than they were 20 years ago. 1.4 billion people get by on less than $1 a day in income. At the same time, human capacity is expanding dramatically — the world has seen a surge in literacy and public schooling, and a reduction in infant mortality and premature death.

In this context, the world’s poorest people don’t need our good intentions — they need new ways to earn money.

TEDxSV speaker Leila Chirayath Janah will describe her experiences becoming a social entrepreneur and her vision of changing the world with greater access to dignified work. She will present research and stories on how the aid industry has created a culture of handouts, and how the Internet can help end poverty by expanding economic opportunity.

Janah followed an unusual path; at age 16, she used a scholarship from the Lorillard Tobacco Company to move to Ghana and teach English in a rural school.

After 10 years navigating the development industry as a consultant to NGOs and at the World Bank, Janah founded Samasource, a nonprofit that connects women, youth, and refugees to digital work. Samasource began with an initial investment of $35K, a couple of sympathetic friends with couches, and heaps of “Jugaad” (a Hindi term for doing more with less, MacGyver-style).

In just over a year, Samasource has provided work benefiting over 550 people through innovative uses of technology. The company’s “Give Work” iPhone application, launched in partnership with CrowdFlower, was hailed as “one of the best and most useful iPhone applications around today” by Mashable.

Here how Leila Chirayath Janah became interested in socially responsible outsourcing and why she set up shop in the Bay Area

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