22. Leila Janah

After reading Leila Janah’s obituary in the NYTimes last Friday, I needed to pause and recognize her in a post.

Lelia Janah dedicated her professional career to providing jobs that pay a living wage to thousands of marginalized people in Africa and India. She was the founder and CEO of three organizations, all of which had one common mission – to “Give Work.”

Leila Janah died of a rare form of cancer on January 24, 2020 at the age of 37.


As a high school student, Janah participated in an international exchange program in Ghana where she taught blind students. “I had never experienced anything like the poverty I saw there,” she said. “It helped me understand how poverty oppresses people.”

Image source: Samasource.com


After graduating from Harvard in 2004, she developed an impressive resume that reflected her commitment to providing financial solutions to the world’s health problems and the creation of decent jobs for the poorest of peoples – which she called “the biggest untapped resource in the global economy.”

In 2008, she started Samasource, based in Nairobi, with the aim of employing the poor in digital jobs and providing them with a living wage while working at those jobs. At present, Samasource operates throughout Kenya, Uganda and India. At least half the people hired by Samasource are women. It has helped an estimated 50,000 people — 11,000 workers and their dependents.

A statement posted on the Samasource website spoke of Ms. Janah’s impact on environmental sustainability and her dedication to ending global poverty.
Cancer doesn’t care who it cuts down.