An advocate for underrepresented people and a champion for environmental sustainability, Leila Janah’s life was grounded in social impact.
On Friday 24 January 2020, the 37-year-old passed away due to a rare form of cancer called Epithelioid Sarcoma.
The founder of three organisations – Samasource, LXMI and Samaschool – she dedicated her life and career to reversing global poverty.
Hailing from New York, the Harvard graduate was also a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a director of CARE USA and the author of Give Work.
“Imagine what a difference we could make in the world if we could convince the people who make those decisions to spend even a small fraction of that on hiring social enterprises that give work to low-income people,” she told The CEO Magazine.
She founded Samasource at the age of just 25, with a mission to train people in digital skills in underprivileged parts of the world, such as Kenya, Haiti, Uganda and India, and then outsource tech jobs to them.
Leila firmly believed that everyone, no matter their financial worth, deserved the opportunity to brighten their future.
“We’re able to move people from a US$2-a-day household income to an over-US$8-a-day household income,” she explained.
Today, 25% of the Fortune 50 trust Samasource to solve their training data challenges. Clients include the likes of Google, Microsoft and Walmart.
“We will miss Leila’s infectious laugh, her tenacious spirit, and her ability to inspire all she encountered to be a force for good in the world.” – Samasource
In addition to this, her non-profit Samaschool upskills low-income earners and help them earn a living wage through the budding freelance economy.
Her luxury ethical skincare brand LXMI also follows the ‘Give Work’ ethos. Emphasising organic and fair-trade ingredients, it focuses on hiring low-income-earning women living in East Africa.
Across all these initiatives, Leila consistently put the needs to under-represented people at the forefront.
Her unwavering altruism, commitment, and entrepreneurial spirit should serve as a reminder to us all of what it means to live generously and do business with heart.
In a statement on her passing, Samasource said, “We are all committed to continuing Leila’s work, and to ensuring her legacy and vision is carried out for years to come.
“To accomplish this, Wendy Gonzalez, long-time business partner and friend to Leila, will take the helm as interim CEO of Samasource.
“We will miss Leila’s infectious laugh, her tenacious spirit, and her ability to inspire all she encountered to be a force for good in the world.”