Samasource: Fighting Poverty With Microwork

One of the biggest problems facing the developing world is how to connect educated people with good jobs. In many areas of the world, employment rates have remained stagnant or even decreased while literacy and graduation rates have soared. Over time, this contributes to the cycle of poverty in many developing countries and can lead to social unrest.

One organization with an innovative solution to the problem of connecting qualified workers with good-paying jobs is Samasource. The name comes from the Sanskrit word “sama” which means “equal,” and the organization seeks to “give work, not aid” by providing equal opportunities for women, youth, and refugees from developing companies in the global digital economy.

It achieves this goal by connecting qualified workers with companies who need to outsource small tasks, such as data entry, translation, Facebook application testing, and more. These small tasks – “microwork,” as they are sometimes called – may be too tedious or insignificant for workers in the developed world, but they offer a steady source of good income for third world workers. As a growing number of nonprofit innovators have found, the spread of mobile phones and reliable internet access makes it increasingly easy even for workers in remote rural regions to join the digital age.


How It Works

Samasource starts by identifying qualified service providers in a region. These may include small businesses, non-profits, and groups of home-based individuals, screened to ensure good working conditions for employees and ability to perform quality work for clients. Selected service providers are then provided with business training and connected to companies requiring microwork through Samasource’s official website. To date, Samasource has helped more than 1200 people find good work in Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, India, Pakistan, and Haiti.

Samasource differs from other outsourcing organizations because it focuses specifically on finding work for disadvantaged providers in rural regions, refugee camps, and other areas with significant but severely underutilized pools of talent, while many traditional outsourcing agencies work primarily in urban areas of China, India, and the Philippines. As a non-profit social business, Samasource is also able to provide a greater range of payment options to ensure that wages actually reach the worker.

One of Samasource’s earliest success stories was Marie Umar, a Pakistani woman living in a rural region controlled by the Taliban. Well educated but unable to find work outside the home, Umar was able to increase her income from less than $100 to more than $800 per month with the help of Samasource. give-work-iphoneThanks to her success with Samasource, Umar was able to found her own firm to help other women find microwork to raise themselves and their families out of poverty.

How You Can Help

In addition to tax-deductible donations to support Samasource’s training programs, you can also support Samasource’s innovative work in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean by downloading Samasource’s Give Work iPhone application from the iTunes app store or searching for “Give Work” on your iPhone app store.

The Give Work iPhone app allows you to support the work done by Samasource service providers by completing short, on screen tasks. These tasks may help verify the work done by Samasource service providers to ensure accuracy and quality, or assist a Samasource provider with a task they have a question about. 100% of the revenue earned goes to the service provider.

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