Summary of Give Work

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Give Work book summary

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Social entrepreneur Leila Janah brought a “start-up mentality” to charity work when she established Samasource, a business that connects the poorest of the poor to digital work. Her employees – who hail from disadvantaged communities, worldwide – tag and digitize records for over a hundred companies, including eBay and Walmart. They have, thus, lifted themselves from poverty. People often assume charitable and for-profit work are mutually exclusive; but Janah explains how companies can integrate social good and “giving work” into a company’s DNA, while still turning a profit.

About the Author

 Leila Janah is the founder and CEO of Samasource and LXMI.


Samasource founder Leila Janah’s immigrant background laid the foundation for her appreciation of the power of work to transform lives.

Janah felt passionately about addressing world hunger and poverty from a young age. She went to rural Ghana through an American Field Service program to teach blind children English.

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as income of $1.90 per day. That figure reflects purchasing power: how much roughly $2 buys in an average city in the United States. Many Ghanaians live on this subsistence wage.

Janah once believed in “meritocracy”: the notion that all people need in order to succeed is to work hard. Her experience in Ghana dispelled this belief. Her blind students were smart, ambitious kids. In a place where poverty caused death because people couldn’t afford a $4 dose of medicine, Janah saw that only an accident of birth – and not talent or brains – separated her fate from that of her students.

Janah wanted to help the children she was teaching succeed; this desire planted the seed for her social entrepreneurship. People living in constant scarcity think only in terms of short-term survival...

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