September 12, 2016
3 Minute Read
Before I joined Samasource, when I thought of corporate sustainability, I thought about green buildings and zero emissions footprints. Since joining my first nonprofit, I’ve been inspired to think about sustainability in a whole new way. For our nonprofit, Samasource, sustainability means making enough earned revenue to cover all the costs of our not-for-profit program.
It’s a holy grail of sorts. It means that the mission of purposefully training and giving jobs to the world’s poorest is something that is not only a responsible way to source, but also an effective, high quality and viable way to source. If this is adopted globally, we have a real opportunity to alleviate poverty while doing smart business.
It’s a lofty aspiration, but I believe in sustainability more now than ever. Four years ago, Samasource began working with a partner delivery center in Gulu, a town located in central Uganda. This center is powered by solar power with generator backup and internet-powered by line of site wireless connected to redundant rings.
Gulu’s unemployment rate is over 83 percent. Here I’ve met some of the most inspired, and inspiring, people of my life. Joel, one of our agents, has been performing data services work for over two years at Sama’s center in Gulu. He lives with his father and 14 brothers and sisters about 12 kilometers from the center. His family has a small sustenance farm of maize and cassava to feed their family. His income is the only income used to support his family of 15, as jobs are very hard to come by.
Joel has worked with Samasource for two years delivering data collection, data enrichment and image annotation work. Last month, Joel was awarded Top Performer, as he had the best quality scores on the team for his data enrichment work on Zillow, the leading online real estate marketplace. Joel and his team mates, who live in an extremely rural area where most homes are made of mud or clay bricks, shared with me the nuances of distinguishing limestone from travertine tile. He shared with us aspirations of graduating from university; and with the money he’s earned, he’s invested in a small piggery to supplement family income.
Beyond this, Joel is part of a community of workers at our center that are doing their best to not only sustain their families, but sustain each other. When our Samasource impact team provided financial literacy training to these workers, the team decided to create a group savings account. Not only can it be used for a rainy day, but the group has split into two teams that are creating plans for local businesses they can start, and ultimately begin feeding more income into the community. Their dedication to delivering excellent work is unparalleled, as each and every one of the people I met simply wanted one thing...more work.
Sustainability has taken on a whole new definition and depth for me. We’re more determined than ever to make impact sourcing the way to do business.