Leila Janah, founder of Samasource, succumbs to rare form of cancer




Leila Janah, the founder and CEO Samasource, passed away last week due to complications from Epithelioid Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. She was 37 years old.

Samasource, the organisation Leila founded in 2008, delivers secure, high quality training data and has become a trusted platform for expert, ethical training data.The Samasource team are experts in image, video and sensor data annotation and validation for machine learning algorithms. 

(TOP: The late Leila Janah, the founder and CEO of Samasource).

In a condolence message posted on its website, Samasource stated that “Leila spearheaded a global impact sourcing movement and was a champion for environmental sustainability and ending global poverty.” Below is the message:

We are deeply saddened to announce that Leila Janah, Samasource Founder and CEO, passed away last night due to complications from Epithelioid Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. She was 37 years old.

Leila spearheaded a global impact sourcing movement and was a champion for environmental sustainability and ending global poverty. She was the founder and CEO of three organizations, all with a common mission to “Give Work” – Samasource, a global for-profit technology leader in training data for AI; LXMI, a fair-trade, organic skin care company; and Samaschool, a non-profit focused on reskilling for the new economy.

Her commitment to creating a better world was unparalleled. The ripple effects of her work will be felt for generations.

We are all committed to continuing Leila’s work, and to ensuring her legacy and vision is carried out for years to come. To accomplish this, Wendy Gonzalez, longtime business partner and friend to Leila, will take the helm as interim CEO of Samasource. Previously the organization’s COO, Wendy has spent the past five years working alongside Leila to craft Samasource’s vision and strategy.

Samaschool will continue to serve those gaining skills for the new economy, and LXMI will continue to operate and provide meaningful, dignified work to women in East Africa.

We will miss Leila’s infectious laugh, her tenacious spirit, and her ability to inspire all she encountered to be a force for good in the world. Our deepest sympathies extend to Leila’s husband, Tassilo, her stepdaughter, her family, and her friends.

With love,

The Sama Family

Leila Janah  founded Samasource in 2008 with the vision to equally distribute opportunity by giving work, using cutting edge social enterprise models. Prior to founding Samasource, Leila was a Visiting Scholar with the Stanford Program on Global Justice and Australian National University’s Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. She was also founding Director of Incentives for Global Health and a management consultant at Katzenbach Partners (now Booz & Co).

Leila was a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum (WEF), a former Director of CARE USA, a TechFellow, recipient of the inaugural Club de Madrid Young Leadership Award,and the youngest person to win a Heinz Award in 2014.

Samasource also provides a host of impact programs to ensure its staff advance in their careers and learn requisite life skills. The programs include health and wellness education, professional skills development, a scholarship program to assist with continuing education costs, and the GiveWork Challenge – a program to provide micro loans and mentorship to aspiring entrepreneurs. 

With offices San Francisco, California, New York, the Hague, Costa Rica, Montreal, Nairobi, Kenya, Kampala and Gulu, Uganda, Samasource currently owns and operates delivery centers in Nairobi, Kenya, and Gulu, Uganda, and partners with additional delivery centers in India. Samasource previously had paid workers in Haiti, Pakistan, Ghana, and South Africa.

In late 2019, Samasource raised a $14.8 million in a Series A funding round led by Ridge Ventures. The funds were to be used to upgrade the features of the Samasource platform; set up an AI Development Centre in Montreal, Canada and expand its digital delivery centre in Kampala, Uganda to serve its corporate client base.

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  1. Samasource rebrands to Sama as it targets more industries in new strategy | aptantech
  2. Six startups from Kenya and Uganda to each receive $4000 funding from Leila Janah Foundation | aptantech

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