Leila Janah

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Leila Janah
Born October 9th, 1982
Lewiston, New York
Residence San Francisco, California
Alma mater Harvard University
Occupation Founder and CEO of Samasource

Leila Janah is the Founder and CEO of Samasource, a non-profit social business that gives digital work to impoverished people around the world.


Janah was born on October 9th, 1982 in Lewiston, New York, near Niagara Falls,[1] and grew up in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California. She attended the California Academy of Mathematics and Science. She won a college scholarship at 16, but convinced them to let her spend it teaching in Ghana,[2] and attended Harvard University, graduating in 2005 with a degree in African Development Studies.[3] While at Harvard, she consulted to and authored papers for the World Bank's Development Research Group and Ashoka on social and economic rights. Upon graduation, Janah worked as a management consultant with Katzenbach Partners .

Janah left the firm in 2007 to become a visiting scholar at Stanford University with the Program on Global Justice, founded by law professor Joshua Cohen. That year, she co-founded Incentives for Global Health with Thomas Pogge, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale, and Aidan Hollis, a Professor of Economics at the University of Calgary, which established a blueprint for incentivizing the development of new drugs for neglected diseases.[4]

In 2008, she launched Samasource (then called Market for Change), an idea that was inspired by her experiences at the World Bank and in field work in Mozambique, Senegal, and Rwanda while she attended Harvard.

Janah got her first contract for SamaSource with a company called Benetech, a non-profit social enterprise that provides technology solutions.[5]

Awards and Honors[edit]

Janah was named one of the Most Influential Women in Technology by Fast Company in 2009.[6] In 2010, Janah received the Prix NetExplorateur[7] from the French Senate and a World Technology Award for Social Entrepreneurship for her work with Samasource.[8] In 2012, Janah was listed in a Datamation article, 10 Women in Tech Who Give Back for her work with Samasource.

Janah serves on the board of TechSoup Global and as an advisor to SpreeTales,[9] a technology startup. She is a former Visiting Scholar at the Stanford University Program on Global Justice[10] and Australian National University’s Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.

She is a recipient of the Rainer Arnhold and TEDIndia Fellowships, and serves on the San Francisco board of the Social Enterprise Institute.[2]

Public Speaking[edit]

Janah is a frequent speaker and panelist at technology and social innovation conferences including the 2010 Web 2.0 Summit, Clinton Global Initiative conference, TechCrunch Disrupt, and Tech4Africa.[11][12][13][14] Janah has advocated for alleviating poverty by empowering the world's poor as producers of goods and services in the global economy, saying that "the greatest natural resource in the world that has been overlooked is the brainpower at the bottom of the pyramid."[15] Her work has been profiled by The New York Times,[16] The Wall Street Journal,[17] and The New Scientist, as well as CBS, CNN, PBS, BBC, and NPR.


External links[edit]