Samasource is one of the four organizations that have been essential to the Mission 4636 project in Haiti. In a recent interview by The Trailblazers for Good Q&A Series, Samasource founder Leila Janah expresses her objectives and successes with the program.
She initially started the project in 2008 with the hope of helping women and youth living in poverty by providing them with sustainable work. This work entails “small, web-based tasks like enhancing or verifying data, images and text.” The project then works with clients to move the data to an online distribution system, the SamaHub, which can then be accessed worldwide by other Samasource staff. Today, there are 16 work centers around the world and over one million US dollars have been distributed to the poor through wages. Before starting the project, Janah determined that what small companies in poor regions struggled with most was finding enough contracts for employment. If she could find them work, they would do it, they simply lacked the access to global markets.
From what I gathered from her interview, Janah did not create this project geared toward disaster relief, nevertheless it is showing to be a huge asset to the 4636 project. When asked to name a success of the Samasource platform, she pinpointed the work in Haiti. What I did not realize before was that Samasource was already working in Haiti prior to the earthquake. The program was delivering low cost netbooks and satellite connectivity to Haitians. In the aftermath of the earthquake, Samasource then became essential in maintaining Internet connectivity. At the heart of their work however, has been the microwork employment opportunities that they have been providing to locals trying to regain their livelihoods. They have addressed one of the biggest factors in a projects success, local involvement and capacity building. By educating Haitians in the technology field, the presence of Samasource in Haiti becomes is becoming more sustainable. Not only this, the actual information that the workers are gathering and imputing into the Samahub is is extremely important in organizing and utilizing data for Mission 4636.
Overall, the Samasource is still small, employing only 2000 workers worldwide; nevertheless, the project is young and full of potential. Through this project, the poor are getting a new chance at building skills that will give them a competitive advantage in the ICT field. Even more important however, Samasource is giving poor women and youth, and now those affected by the disaster in Haiti, the chance to improve their livelihoods and overcome the struggles of poverty.