How Outsourcing is Helping People Overcome Poverty

Outsourcing has been in the news for good and bad reasons – more often developing countries such as India have been portrayed in the negative for being large hubs of outsourced work. Outsourcing can have a positive side where its proving to be a powerful tool for helping people come out of poverty worldwide including in the United States.

Samasource, a San Francisco based nonprofit obtains work from companies who would like to get certain relatively simple IT jobs done at a lower cost, simple work such as database cleanup, data entry, translations, transcriptions, etc is then outsourced to marginalized trained workers around the world helping them make a living wage.

Samasource is currently focused on helping women, refugees and young people in Haiti, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. The organization plans to expand on this idea by providing work to US workers too who’ve suffered deeply from the economic downturn. The Samasource model is simple:

1. Samasource procures work from companies
2. Breaks it down into micro jobs
3. Allocates it to service partners in developing countries
4. Trained women, youth, and refugees complete the work
5. Samasource compiles the results, assures quality and delivers it to the customer.

The companies who are customers of Samasource are happy to get quality work at a lower cost and on the other end of the model it creates employment and helps reduce poverty. In less than two years of its existence Samasource has generated over $700K for over 900 workers in 9 countries and has big name customers like LinkedIn, Intuit and among others.

Another organization operating on a similar model is Digital Divide Data (DDD) in Cambodia. In a region afflicted by deep poverty, DDD provides computer training to youth and then employs them to work on IT projects that they’ve sourced from businesses worldwide. DDD offer services in the areas of data entry and digital publishing and has clients ranging from academic institutions to corporations, governments, NGOs and publishers with few big names like Kaplan, Reader’s Digest, New York Daily News, Siemens, Yale University. DDD employs over 600 young people from Cambodia and Laos who otherwise would have relegated to poverty with little or no hope of breaking out from it.

DDD differs from Samasource in that Samasource distributes small size work of a big project to hundreds of their workers over the internet however both at their heart believe in using the outsourcing model to the advantage of the poor.

By providing digital work, Samasource, DDD and other nonprofits that embrace socially responsible outsourcing are addressing a serious issue of unemployment and helping the vulnerable break out of poverty.

To learn more about the work of Samasource and Digital Divide Data, visit their websites at and