SUMMARY: Samasource enables marginalized people to receive life-changing work opportunities via the Internet. We provide microwork, technology’s answer to microfinance. By training women, youth and refugees to complete paying remote tasks, we give them the ability to build livelihoods and become part of the digital economy.

PROBLEM SPACE: Wasted talent is one of poverty’s greatest ills. 1 billion youth in poor regions will face 50% unemployment in the next decade. Joblessness is linked to increased crime, terrorism, and rebel activity. At the same time, low-cost internet access is spreading across the developing world and presents unprecedented employment opportunities through web-based work.

SOLUTION: Samasource is a non-profit social enterprise that enables women, youth, and refugees to build livelihoods through computer-based microwork. Our model has three parts. First, we identify local service partners who can employ people to provide services, using stringent criteria that verify our service partners’ capacity for deep social impact. Next, we provide service partners with specific training. Finally, we market our Service Partners’ services to paying clients, and establish profiles for each worker on where they return to receive new assignments and complete work.

We now work with 18 small businesses, nonprofit training centers, and rural data centers that provide jobs to over 500 people in Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, and Pakistan. With only $50K in funding with from donors and an all-volunteer staff, Samasource has generated over $220K in work. Our clients have included large web companies, university libraries, and nonprofits.

We’ve recently developed a Facebook platform that allows application developers to outsource the testing of their products to Samasource partners. We have launched a refugee work program in the Dabaab, Kenya, refugee camp. And we have released an iPhone application called GiveWork that sends crowdsourced tasks to the refugees we train. Since this October more than 20,000 tasks have been completed for a total of more than 100,000 points. The monetary equivalent of 100 points can buy half a fish and a loaf of bread.