San Francisco based Samasource is on a mission to help women, refugees and young people in developing countries earn a living wage on the Internet. The model is straightforward – Samasource works with companies that need certain types of relatively simple tasks done, like database cleanup, translations, transcriptions, etc. Samasource charges companies on a per action basis, and then pays workers in Kenya, Uganda, India, Pakistan and Haiti to do the work.
The tasks are generally more complicated than Mechanical Turk stuff, and the company pays a minimum of $1/hour to workers who were previously living on less than $3/day. Some workers, who build up to more complex tasks, make as much as $10/hour.
And what’s more important is that these workers develop a long term relationship with Samasource. They work via local companies that organize and hire the workers and do quality control, and that model seems to work. Today the company has 800 workers in various countries and wants to scale that up significantly. CEO Leila Janah says there is an infinite amount of labor available at a few dollars per hour, and that these jobs make a huge difference in the lives of the workers. There are 4 billion people living on less than $3/day, she says, and $1.4 billion living on less than $1/day.
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