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Five Visionary Tech Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the World

Stashed in: Founders, Theranos

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Maybe, maybe not. But at least they aren't just delivering snacks to rich kids in SF!

Interesting timing for Elizabeth Holmes since her Theranos scandal erupted today:

The write ups about Elizabeth Holmes, Brian Chesky of Airbnb, and Alex Karp were interesting.

But my favorite write up was of Leila Janah of Sama:

IT’S NOT OFTEN that social-change leaders create a family of enterprises with a parent company. But that’s what Leila Janah did by founding the Sama Group in 2008. Each of her three social ventures is run as a ‘‘nonprofit business’’ with Sama Group as parent company and incubator. Uniting these businesses is their focus on impact sourcing — the practice of purposefully giving work to those in need — and their use of technology to help people pull themselves out of poverty.

Samaschool, for example, gives low-income people in Kenya and the U.S. the training needed to enter the digital economy. (Janah aims to reach 25,000 individuals by 2017.) Samahope, a health care crowdfunding site for developing countries, has funded treatment for more than 3,000 patients around the world. Samasource helps women and young people find microwork by doing computer-based tasks. With operations in India, Ghana, Haiti, Kenya and Uganda, it has trained and paid more than 6,800 individuals in the developing world since 2008 and generated $5.9 million in sales last year through contracts for data services — image-tagging, content curation, data verification and organization — with companies such as Microsoft, Getty Images and Qualcomm; it’s on track to reach financial sustainability by the end of 2017.

What’s smart about Janah’s model is that nonprofits, like for-profit startups, need capital and support to bring their ideas to market. Sama Group’s structure reduces competition and increases collaboration between enterprises. With the parent handling functions like legal services or accounting, the organizations can focus on their individual missions.

For the 33-year-old Janah, who was raised in Los Angeles, Sama Group (‘‘sama’’ means “equal” in Sanskrit) has been a true passion project: In the early years, she paid herself just $500 a month, and had to ask her cash-strapped family to pay her cellphone bill. ‘‘A job is not just income,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s dignity, hope, purpose.’’

Leila Janah Sama imgur

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