On a scorching hot June day in northeastern Kenya, an hour west of the Kenyan-Somali border, Leila Chirayath Janah arrived at the Dabaab refugee settlement in an armed convoy. She was there on a mission: to connect jobless, displaced refugees to the rest of the world through legitimate Internet-based jobs.
Leila, 27, is the founder of Samasource, a non-profit organization reminiscent of a tech startup that outsources web-based jobs to women, youth, and refugees living in poverty in third world countries. I met her last month in the tiny office space she rents out in downtown San Francisco. She is tall and well-dressed, and has credentials that include Harvard, Stanford, and a fellowship with TED India. Her obsession with Africa started in her teens — when she was a senior in high school, she left LA to teach English to a class of 60 blind people in rural Ghana; a few years later she created an African Development Studies at Harvard, and a few years after that, she started working on Samasource.