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tv   Leila Janah Give Work  CSPAN  October 21, 2017 10:45am-12:04pm EDT

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an idealist and also a realist simultaneous. how do you hold these seemingly free contradictory ideas in your head at the same time. >> thank you so much, david. [applause] >> thank you. >> you'll be signing books over here, right behind you. i can't encourage you enough. you'll enjoy reading the book. it won't feel like you are learning anything but by the end of it the world is a different place. >> big round of plays for david and adam. [applause] ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much. give us a moment to set up. grab a copy of the book if you don't already have one and will be signing on stage. thank you so much. have a great evening.
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>> book tv is on twitter and facebook if we want to hear from you. treat us or post a comment on her facebook page. >> good evening. how is everyone doing? [cheering and applause] this is my kind of crowd when you talk to the video. weirdly, that gives me a good feeling. everyone here is excited to be here and excited to talk to each other. my name is marissa, i'm intractable in four of here at the commonwealth club. welcome to this [inaudible] tonight's conversation will be moderated by laura tyson, phd at
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uc berkeley. i thank you already do this but here is a challenge. turn to someone you do not know and introduce yourself before we get started. more fun with a new friend. [background noises] that is the perfect 32nd friendship. all right. this is my kind of audience. i hope you are like this when it comes to live audience questions. that would be good. in extremely exciting news you are the second event to take place in this auditorium. [cheering and applause]
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that is worth a round of applause. we are for sleep moved into our brand-new home. were 114 years old and we have been resting. this is really nice. were incredibly excited and it is possible because of donors and members and volunteers and attendees like you. thank you for showing up and giving us a reason to build a brand-new building. once first time here at the club? people who do not know we are a nonprofit so we can only do this and by this i mean more than 400 programs a year with our members and our donors and volunteers. membership includes perks like discounts on tickets to events like this, advance notice of various events like our sold-out program with her next week and if you are interested we have friends were happy to talk or check your e-mails tomorrow for a discount code on membership. other great things coming up, october 24, actress and entrepreneur gabrielle union. october 2025th, eric reese,
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november 2nd, state bird [inaudible]. tonight, like i said, all of you talkative folks that have had questions for leila and laura, there is a microphone and your back left and he will get a reminder from laura and you can start lining up. questions do not include personal stories, they are short and they do not includ they enda street with a? i would love to introduce them to the states. leila and laura.
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[applause] >> good evening. it's great to be at an inaugural event the lovely space. i've been in san francisco a long time and when i first came years ago i did do numerous things with the commonwealth club so it is lovely to continue that tradition. it is a great pleasure to serve as a moderator and we have an outstanding and inspirational leader for newer and co and founder of sommasource and also ceo and company ceo and founder of -- how do you say this? i wasn't sure how you use the acronym -- so, we are here to talk about her work in both
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areas and also to help her launch her new book which we have here. i am married to a writer and it's very important that we buy books. [-left-square-bracket i will be buying a book. i hope that we will get a preview of what is in the book in our conversation. following the discussion there will be a reception and there will be books available. there are so many questions that one could ask leila. she has pushed so much in such a short amount of time and just in my conversation with her backstage she is already thinking about next steps and what she can do. she is a great inspiration. i want to start with the company that you first found it, the one that gets a lot of attention deservedly so that is sommasource. i want to start with if you are
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doing an elevator pitch to describe sommasource and its mission so that everyone has a sense of what it is that it is trying to do can you give us that. >> sure. i have my head of communications right here in front so this is like life judging. it means equal or balanced in sanskrit and it our bit mission to balance low income people with the internet. we do that in a really interesting way. we work with large data services or large technology enterprises to provide things like image tagging another credit service that boost their president offerings. for example, we are doing image tagging that does self driving cars and a few prominent automakers. >> given that mission you have to link up to a number of
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different organizations and you have to link to the individuals who you want to help find these jobs. you have to find them, train them, lead them to and then you have to find all of those other organizations and their jobs. and you're using the internet. talk a little bit about the challenges or the ways you go about that. how do you find the people in the jobs? >> sure, i will start on the side of the people that we help train. i got into this and i've been working in africa for many years and study development economics felt like the most powerful way to help people was to give them living wage jobs. one of the best ways to do that in the modern era is through technology because all of a sudden you have a way to contact someone in a very poor part of the world the job in a rich part
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of the world which means they can make a lot more money than they could make doing anything else selling to a local market. theoretically it's very powerful. i thought to myself what if i created needed only recruited people looking for fair background which is obviously an unusual recruiting criteria. it might even be illegal. in our case, we only recruit people who make less then two or $3 a day. the average income of all of the workers at some azores is about $2.20 a day which means that prior to working with us they are if they avoided all it's in an informal economy doing things like literally working in a quarry breaking big rocks and smaller rocks. if an actual job that someone had before sommasource or selling stopped by the side of the road or we have workers who would brew a local kind of trying and sell it on the street to make a dollar 50 a day. these are the jobs that people have for joining us. we work with them and partner with many local nonprofits and there's an abundance of them. for example in the slums of nairobi where we work and we
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train basic computer skills and of that group we pull some people into work for a time. here in san francisco our sales team clinches sometimes when i get into the details of our work is background because the story they pitch to archelaus is we are a very high quality data service firm and we provide training data to the best companies in silicon valley and the most advanced machine learning is working at the forefront of technology. for example, the worker that i mentioned who use to brew this line trains people to tag images for one of his most prominent auto companies infantry working on some cars. that work, believe it or not, we can train someone to do in a relatively short period of time because we have broken down these fake technology products into smaller units work. that is how it works. front facing operations here in the bay area is focused on high
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quality delivering results and being a competitive enterprise and on the back and it looks very different from what people might imagine in the sense that we are only recruiting people from very poor backgrounds to do the work and we are paying living wages one way. >> so your outward facing links here and these companies have big projects and they have lots of ways they might source labor and i assume most of this labor source is being forced on a project space because these are long-term employment contracts but why would and what is your pitch for why they should continue? there must be other ways you can source this type of talent. >> sure, i used to say fight poverty and get your work done. obviously, that didn't work well for most product managers in the bay area. [-left-square-bracket luckily, i got wise enough to hire better salespeople than me who educated me on how we win these contracts
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and the first value proposition we put forward is the highest quality provider and interestingly when you hire people from marginalized background they had no other formal work opportunities and they take this extremely seriously. they will show up early to work and they are interestingly people ask isn't it hard to train people from these backgrounds and how do they show up in the least of our problems is our workforce. it is a credible. these are the most motivated people they are incredibly loyal to an employer who is willing to quickly play far and above what they would make doing anything else. as a result, quality is something we can sell as a major attribute and the social mission peace comes in after we have convince the client that we offer the best services. in terms of cost we are not the cheapest option but increasingly for someone who is in charge of developing the next self driving car algorithm or developing a
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smart chip for your phone to recognize faces and images that person is more concerned with quality often than cost. they want to make sure that the data going into training this algorithm is good data. that is how we went. i think that is what most social enterprises should focus on rather than selling the customer on the social mission we often talk about it as the trojan horse but we have to sneak in the sustainability and it's a nice and that the icing on the cake. >> that is an interesting point because in your work you talk about the importance of and it's a term i had not heard before so i will give you credit for. in fact sourcing which is -- there are companies out there that actually -- for whom the social mission, say of sourcing this job through jobs this kind of population or sourcing for diversity or sourcing for some
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positive social mission has become more important. it is interesting that essentially you are saying that is secondary -- i guess it should be to the quality of labor. you can make the social case but the social case is an add-on. you get these highly professional committed well-trained individuals to be part of a team and in addition, you are addressing a social mission. >> i think it makes it sticky. to be honest, all other things being equal as long as you are sure their spenders are giving you quality of why wouldn't you choose a vendor that is also fighting poverty. what we find is that once people get embedded in these contracts with us we have had so many stories of people who work in big tech companies who said literally, leila, i was going to
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quit and i was demotivated and i wanted to do something with my life more than this huge tech company. then we hired sommasource and i work with people who are moving out of poverty from places like kenya and india and haiti and i feel like i have purpose again when i come into work. i can name names of people who stayed two years longer at their product management job that big companies because they felt more motivated to come to work every day. at some point, i think we should quantify that and tell it to our customers.
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a survey of millennials in the work force and found that 80% of millennials only want to work for a company that has a strong social mission. and increasingly, thanks to technology, we're able to discern whose mission is full of fluff and who's actually delivering. and more and more we can show what the factory on the floor actually looks like. we can show the results of income surveys for the workers in that factory. it becomes harder and harder to, you know, to create a glossy csr page that doesn't actually translate to what the company's doing. >> felicia, there's more and more work we can do on these metrics, and i agree with you, i think they're very compelling. before we move on to other questions, i want to talk a little bit about what i think is something called sama schooling which is related to sama source and may be involved in doing similar activities in the u.s. and i think that given the conversations going on in the u.s. about the ability to create
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meaningful jobs for workers in various rural and far-flung and often poverty places in the u.s., is sama school involved in that, and how? >> i'm so glad you brought it up. i own a lot of sama domains presently -- [laughter] >> right. >> so schools started several years ago. it actually has a funny origin story. >> okay. >> we had been running these ads on hulu, the internet tv service, the hay lighted our work -- highlighted our work in a refugee camp in kenya. it's one of the poorest places in the world training these very destitute refugees to do work for big tech companies. and it was working, and we had this really cute public service announcement that ran on this channel, and i got the nastiest e-mail as soon as we started running these ads from this guy joe in ohio. [laughter] >> not joe the plumber. was it joe the plumber?
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[laughter] because he was, he was e-mailing everyone, i think, at some point. >> that's right, that's right. not joe the plumber. >> not the plumber. probably less charismatic. the subject line was you are ruining america. and then it said -- >> oh, my goodness. >> -- people -- you and your kind, your kind, are, you know, ruining america, you're stealing our jobs and sending them to africa, and it's the middle of a recession and how dare you do this. and i read the e-mail and, of course, my first response was, i was so livid. at the time, literally, sama source is a nonprofit. i was sleeping on my ex-boyfriend's futon at one point. i was so poor myself, and i thought, you know, he probably thinks i'm some sort of millionaire sitting in san francisco enjoying all the profits i'm raking in from sending these jobs to refugee camps. so i wrote this nasty e-mail to him, and i slept on it, and i wrote this really nice e-mail
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back. dear joe, i've looked at the unemployment statistics in ohio. i guess where you're coming from. maybe there's some way we can adapt our model to also work here. and believe it or not, joe wrote back the nicest response. he said thank you so much for listening, i'm really sorry about the tone of my last e-mail. i lost my job recently and i just, you know, your ad just made me upset because i want to do more to create jobs here in america, and i feel like we're getting left behind. it was an interesting precursor to what's been happening. >> yes, absolutely. >> so it inspired me to go to my board and say maybe we can do something here in the u.s. and i think it's important for international organizations to not be siloed. we have this unfortunate distinction between people who work for foreign ngos and people who work on domestic poverty, and it's tragic, because it is the same issue. it's often the same bad guys. so we need to work together more. so we tried a couple of different experiments working in the u.s. we tried to adapt a more similar
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model to what we do overseas here, and it didn't work, didn't work because companies have been outsourcing this work for a very long time already -- >> already. >> -- to places like india and china. so trying to get that basic data services work to come back onshore, i think, is futile. so we said, okay, what can we do that actually makes sense for america. and we looked at the gig economy. it turns out that all net employment growth, there's this katz and krueger study that came out, all net improvement growth has been in the independent work arena. so that is, you know, contract work, basically. including all of these new gig economy platforms. and yet our work force training in america has no instructions for workers on how to benefit from this -- >> on how you connect, how to benefit -- >> now, we're teaching people to do jobs that have gone away ten years ago. so we said, well, what if we focus on applying our learnings in the tech world to creating curriculum to teach people how
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to benefit from these new platforms which sometimes get a bad rap. but, look, the data speaks for itself. we're not going to shift the whole economy by boycotting one or two labor platforms instead let's work with them, how we can insure people are paid living wages and, importantly, how we can prepare the most marginalized people in our society to actually benefit from these platforms. and so that's what sama school does. we have the first gig economy training or independent, you know, worker training for low income americans. we've deployed it in san francisco. in the city we just signed a contract with the office of education and work force development. >> oh, great. >> so that training is going out to people here, and we've seen amazing success stories. people going from $8 an hour, minimum wage retail jobs where they have no flexibility, no online reputation, they're not getting any long-term benefit from doing these jobs to making $25 or $30 an hour on a platform like field nation or task rabbit where not only do they get this money, but they also get the
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benefit of having an online reputation. if you do a good job on your task -- >> you get rated well, and you get more cliented -- >> that's something that white collar workers are used to having through linkedin, but low income people are often denied that. but i think that's actually the future of job train anything this country. >> so it's really interesting, that story. so right now you're working with the city of san francisco. i actually think that one of the interesting ways to imagine in this happening is mayors in cities actually really working to connect. because you have to have, you have to have the connecting organizations as well. you said in your work in the developing economies you often work with nonprofits because you've got to find a way to connect to the communities of workers that you're serving, okay? and they help you do that. and i think in this case having the mayor's office involved in
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this may actually help bring more opportunities to the workers who are going through this. i think that's really -- >> i even think we could do things like, first of all, i think there should be incentives for every city government to from cure from social enterprises. >> so we -- yeah. [laughter] procurement is very big. let's talk a little bit about procurement, because -- so i think impact sourcing has a lot to do with procurement, as i understand it. so your number, so we have $12 trillion of procurement going on? >> just the finish. >> and that's just the top 2,000 companies. when i did this, i did a task last year for the u.n. on ways to empower women around the world, and i said to all the governments in the room, you know, one thing you might do is just procure more from the women. that's not that hard a task, okay? you guys in some developing countries governments are, like, 30% of the economy in terms of
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procurement, in terms of goods that are bought and sold. so if you actually want to work to bring jobs to those without jobs, the $2 or less a day workers, or you want to bring jobs to the women within that category, you can do that through procurement. very, very powerful. >> it's so simple. it's like we've heard that whole saying teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. first of all, there should be a woman who's willing to invest 90% of their paycheck -- >> in the fishing poles. they're actually investing in the equipment, right? [laughter] >> so, so there's that. but, you know, i think it's so interesting that we forget that the best way to help someone isn't to give them a handout, which is fundamentally kind of a patronizing relationship. it's saying look at me, you know, i'm superior, and i can give you this poor person, this money, but it's to engage with them on a level playing field which is to buy something from
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him or her. when you purchase something from someone, you're saying i value your contribution, and i'm willing to pay you my hard-earned money for what you're able to create. and i think it's a really empowering relationship especially for low income women who are so often in so many ways told that they're worthless. >> right. so one of the things that i read when you were talking about your journey, how you got to come up with this, was you were young, i think just high school. went to do some special semester teaching english in a very poor part of a very poor country in africa. and the thing that struck you and it's triggered by what you just said, is people were really poor. but they were actually really talented. they were really hard working. they were really people who, if you gave them an opportunity, they would make the most of it. so it was there's the talent,
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but it's not being utilized. how could i possibly create utilization. so that's, i think, was a very important part of the personal story of how you got to this place. [laughter] >> yeah. well, so my father's here in the audience, and i owe a lot to my father's jesuit education. >> ah, jesuit education. all right. >> yeah. he would recite -- >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> we'd be like, dad, can we have more allowance, and he'd be like, my children, luxury is more ruthless than war. that was one of his favorite lines from a roman poet. [laughter] so i wish i could take all the credit from that philosophy, but we were educated about this stuff. my dad used to be subscribe the those beautiful calendars that have photographs of people in those countries and and give you statistics about poverty, and he would often remind us that we were here by ap accident of birth and -- an accident of birth and if it weren't for that, we might easily have been
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born in a slum of kenya or a rural part of india. you got lucky by being born here, it's not like you're some great gift to the universe that you're doing well in school. because a lot of people in your boat would probably do better than you. [laughter] >> thanks, dad. >> yeah. but it really stuck with me. and i got the chance, it was such an odd thing that happened. i got a scholarship, i was one of those, like, nerdy first generation indian kids who applied for every scholarship in the guidance counselor's office and knew that was the only way i was going to be able to afford to go to school. i got the scholarship from, of all places, a big tobacco company called lorillard. >> that is a big one. >> i remember they sent a check, a $10,000 check in the mail to my house, and my mom opened it, and she's, like, you have a $10,000 check from a tobacco company. and it was this scholarship for community service i'd done in high school. and at the time i really wanted to have an adventure and leave home, and i was kind of restless --
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>> and was it broadly community service, so you could take it and go to africa. >> it was for work i'd done in high school, and it was for a scholarship -- >> okay. >> and i convinced the scholarship committee and my guidance counselor that it would be far more educational to graduate earlier and go off to this, i found this program in ghana teaching english. i'd love to say this was a saintly motivation, but really it was motivated by the desire to have an adventure. so i showed up in ghana thinking i would, like, help all these poor african children learn english, and, of course, my students who listened to bbc radio and voice of america and literally spoke, like, the queen's english -- [laughter] they could name u.s. senators. they could talk about bill clinton's official state visit to africa. they were more knowledgeable about global affairs than most of my high school classmates, yet they were all from $2 a day or under families. and it was a school for blind kids, so imagine. it's hard enough getting an education in west africa, imagine doing that out of, you
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know, when you additionally have this disability. >> amazing. >> and what struck me most about this community is, you know, i had grown up thinking my brother and i really were beneficiaries of the american dream. we were born here, we both went to really great schools, we went to public school all our lives, we both had scholarships, we did odd jobs to make ends meet. i had sort of assumed if you had the will and the skill to work, you could make it. and it never really dawned on me what life is like for the vast majority of extremely talented people who just happen to be born living in squalor. >> right. >> and it really means a life of, in my mind, you know, a lot of avoidable suffering that should not happen in 2017. we have all of the means in the world to fix this problem. it's a matter of distribution. >> you say that clearly. and i think that's right. i mean, it's a matter of distribution. it's a matter of controlling or affecting the distribution of resources and jobs. i completely agree. you told a human story about joe. before we go on, i think for
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this audience talk about a couple of the lives that you have affected in africa. what has happened to these workers as you have found them and to their families? and are these -- i assume you're tracking whether the benefits are sustainable, meaning that they continue over time. >> yep. well, i'll start at the macro level and talk about the data. we have a member of our impact team here, but one of the things i learned, i worked at the world bank, and i used to work in the development research group which is this, like, think tank that produces reports that probably two week read. you might be one of them. >> i read them, yeah. [laughter] i'm going to confess here, i've read them. [laughter] >> and so you would turn out all this data, and one of the things i learned early on is if you want to have a credible approach to fighting poverty, you have to have credible data around it. >> right. >> and the more objective the data, the better. so we're lucky enough to have all of these incredible
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resources. mohamed eunice, who actually just came out with a book as well, the founder of -- >> right. >> the pioneer of microfinance worked extensively with the world bank to come out with a poverty index. it's really hard to measure poverty levels in places where they don't have a cash economy, right? so you literally have to go around and measure assets in the house. you have to look at whether someone has a roof, what kind of roof it is, what kind of floor they might have to ascertain what poverty level the family's living in. so we do baseline surveys of all of our workers to understand what income level they have at the point where they join us. we do six month surveys, you know, yearly surveys, and then we look at what happens to them long after they leave us. remarkably, we see that they move on average from $2.20 a day to over $8 a day, and they stay at that higher income level even three years after they left the program. so it is a permanent path out of poverty. and not just for those workers, but for all of the
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income-dependents. many of them are supporting five or six people in the family -- >> family members. >> and we actually track what they spend their money on. >> oh, you do? >> uh-huh. we publish all this data in case you're curious, >> fantastic. >> there's sort of the equivalent of quarterly investor calls, we do learnings calls where we talk through these numbers and try to help people make sense of them. and lastly, i think importantly in this space there's a new trend around impact auditing and ran tommizeded control -- randomizedded control trials. in the same way we would measure the efficacy of a new drug by doing a controlled experiment, we can do that with poverty reduction programs. which is incredibly important, if you think about it. you're subjecting people to a program which may or may not work, and it's important to be responsible and be sure that your program works before you go and solicit grant funds to deploy it. so we just embarked on an rct, and we did our first third-party
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impact audit, which the results were published earlier this year, and we did really well. >> great. that's fantastic. yes. i mean, rcts, so this is an effort to, basically, really look at effectiveness by -- it takes some time, because you're basically comparing your intervention with a nonintervention and trying to see the extent to which it really affects things. there are so many -- go ahead. >> i was going to share a story. >> yes, please. >> i did the political thing -- [laughter] >> well, you were appealing to me, the economist. the macro stuff really is great, but now a couple of human stories. >> trying to be a good student here. so i share this story a lot because it's just like kind of stranger than fiction. i met this young man named ken in nairobi, and it's one of those places that looks like a post-apocalyptic movie setting. how many of you have seen the movie elysium?
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it's what happens 500 years from now the earth has devolved into a massive slum, and all the rich people have moved to a space island. it's kind of underway right now -- [laughter] but that's another subject. but the saddest thing about movie actually, incidentally, is both the slum scenes and the rich people scenes were both filmed in modern-day mexico city. of so think about that. but it really looks like a scene out of one of these movies. it is a place where you see open sewers and beautiful, you know, young children playing outside open sewers. people are dying of tuberculosis all over the place, people are dying of cholera outbreaks. i mean, it's a setting that, you know, shouldn't belong in the modern world. and in this slum, there are under -- i think between 800k and a million people living, and one of them used to be this guy, ken. and i met him outside of his home in the slum just after he'd started working for sama source. and he introduced me to his open home.
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there was around open sewer right outside. his beautiful daughter was playing right next to the sewer. he was living in a mud-walled hut with a tin roof. just one tiny room in which he tried to cook. he'd bring, like, kerosene to cook which is, by the way, a major problem. it gives kids asthma and all sorts of other problems. >> right. >> he told me that regularly his home would be broken into and his belongings stolen. he told me he was afraid to go to the bathroom often at night because he could get mugged or attacked. it was very dangerous. and then -- so this man, if you met him and he's wearing a business suit here? san francisco, you would never guess his background. he speaks beautiful english, extremely charismatic, showed up early for our meeting, just a professional presence. you would never imagine that he came from this background. it turned out that ken had gotten admitted to one of the best boarding schools in nairobi on a full scholarship and had graduated from that boarding school. by the way, before he got selected he had been orphaned. he'd been an orphan.
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his mother and seven of her nine siblings had died of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. you could not make this up, right? so here is this guy who's, like, managed against every odd that the universe could throw at you to graduate from one of the best schools in nairobi. you think, okay, great, now he's going to get a job and change the trajectory of his family, except in nairobi there's 70% youth unemployment. >> no jobs. >> especially not for a kid from the slum. so he finishes this high school, and he goes back to the slum. after we've made this huge investment in his education. and so often as donors we think, okay, education is the answer. but if there are no jobs after the, you know, education, then what's the point? it's almost, in some ways, worse because people are aware of what they're missing. so ken moves back to the slum. the only job he could get was selling this local moonshine. he actually told me, took me to where they brew it. and it's these guys, i met another guy who was brewing this
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moonshine who had a degree in i.t. from a western kenyan university and and who was forced to live in the slum because, again, there's no jobs. so here are these talented young people who have so much to offer, who are so motivated literally dredging up, like, sewer water to brew this horrific moonshine. they mix it with kerosene. ken told me that people in the slum drink it to forget themselves. it's like sniffing glue. >> yeah. >> so these guys are selling this stuff by the side of the road. meanwhile, you know, our typical idea of someone who's selling this stuff is there's no way they could have a real job, right? we never would imagine someone who's selling moonshine by the side of the road in a slum in the middle of nairobi who is someone who could be capable of doing work for google, and yet diswhrsh that's exactly what happened. >> ken gets into one of our computer training programs, gets hired to do data entry, gets promoted and promoted. finally, i'll just fast forward. last year, in december, i went
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to beirut because we had just launched a training program with the world food program to train syrian refugees in digital work skills. and ken had taken his first flight out of the country to be the leader of this project. so now ken has trained over 500 people in digital work skills all the way to lebanon. he didn't like the food though, he told me. [laughter] and he moved out of the slum, he has his daughter in an amazing school. i mean, he literally looks like a different person. and that is what's possible when we give work. >> when you give work, when you find a way to take this talent and give work and using all of the wonderful technology and the wonderful employers that you can use the technology to link to. so we're going to run out of time, and i want to get to a couple of other areas. i think we all would really benefit from understanding a bit more about your own business model. so it's a nonprofit.
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it's doing lots of things. sama school, sama source, you just talked about opening a new training thing in beirut, you're doing rtcs, you have impact assessment. so you have a budget. how do you finance the operation? and why is it a nonprofit? i mean, you know, you could have made it a b corp., you could have made it a for-profit. you've finish so tell me -- you've, so tell me a little about the financial model. and then related to that, its sustainability. do you think it's on a course, do you worry about the financial model going forward? do you need to tweak it in some way? >> so is i'll start by saying that we have a problem in the u.s. which is i think we're still very uninvolved when it comes to business models. we have, on the one hand, profit-maximizing corporations, and then on the other hand, charities. and what we think about when we think about these two models is, you know, make all the money we can doing whatever we need to do
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including polluting the stream and employing slaves and literally things that companies, big companies still do. and then maybe we'll donate money at the end of the day over here to this charity model where you have these nonprofits which are really ill-equipped to handle these big problems and subsist on grants and donations. that's the traditional idea we have of wiz and charity -- business and charity. but really almost all of the interesting work is happening in the middle in this space of business interest. a lot of earned revenue nonprofits -- >> earned revenue nonprofits. >> nonprofits that are getting a stream of revenue from business operations that support the mission. there are so many amazing ones. we have delancey street here in the city, we have homeboy industries in los angeles, old school café in the bayview. >> so is that what you are? you're an owned -- earned revenue -- >> yeah, earned revenued -- >> going back into sustaining and building this operation. >> yeah. so what we've done is we
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actually separate the p and l of each of our programs so donors know they're not subsidizing a contract for microsoft or google. it's going towards training and towards our programs that are r&d and supporting really very clear social mission objectives. our business, sama source, is actually now profitable off of our earned revenue. so all of the operations around that business are entirely covered by the revenue we earn from those contracts, and we just hit that milestone last year after eight years of operations. [applause] thank you. >> so in this blend of sort of taking some grant money, maybe some philanthropic monies from donors and then earning revenue, what's the sort of breakdown over all of the whole sama source? >> yeah. well, we have about a $16 million budget, and the majority of that is in our source program. it's the earned revenue -- >> it's the earned revenue
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business. >> yep. and a small percentage of that, it's under a million right now, is our sama school program. i hope that grows. we're trying to work with city governments around the country to get them to -- >> they would sign on and basically buy, support the training. >> exactly. or buy a license. >> okay. >> and we're actually thinking about different business models. we actually just took our first equity investment. so we, as a nonprofit we own a subsidiary. our work center is in the countries that we operate in, for example, in kenya. that work center is a for-profit business that we basically wholly owned as a nonprofit, and we just sold some equity in that business to a european impact investor, actually, a foundation that's looking to make impact investments. so there's all these really new, hybrid models. and what i think is exciting is it used to be that foundations used to have the people that ran the finances for the foundations were entirely divorced from the mission people. >> yes. >> so you'd have foundations literally investing in, like, tobacco companies and, you know, all these things that are, like,
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creating the very problems that then the nonprofit side of the foundation is trying to solve. it makes no sense. so really what we need to see is convergence, right? we need to see that the investments we're making are in businesses that not only avoid doing bad, but actually proactively do good. and i have a great example of this. i just got off the phone questioned with a person from -- yesterday with a person who is now investing in companies that build sustainable business models around protecting wild assets. so, for example, companies like runa, the tea company that's sourcing i think from the amazon and ecuador a rare ingredient. there's all these new models that show local people that they can make more money preserving the tree that creates a potentially profitable ingredient than by cutting it down and selling that land to a cattle farmer. >> uh-huh. so let me ask a question then of a little bit about your other company, because the other
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company you founded, lexme, is a for-profit. why did you choose that model, and are there any links between them? are they totally separate? >> yeah -- >> entrepreneurial adventures. >> as you can tell, i have a bit of a sickness for starting things. [laughter] so when i had the idea for luxme, i first went to my board and i was like, okay, i have this new idea, i know you're going to think this is crazy, and i had come across this really amazing ingredient in northern -- >> so related to this ingredient. that's what triggered my question, was thinking about what you just said about you have a real asset that you can protect and actually monetize. >> so i'm, like, i love going to local markets when i travel, and i love kind of finding out what local people are using. i found across -- came across this shea butter. all the women in northern uganda have this beautiful skin, and it's said it's because of this product. i find out that this nut only grows wild on trees that take 20
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years to mature, and those trees only grow in northern uganda, south sudan and parts of ethiopia. so i'm thinking what an amazing story. how come no one has marketed this as, like, a luxury item before. and i go back and i remember flying back through duty-free and looking at the high-end chanel skin creams -- [laughter] and, you know, i love -- >> yes. >> one of the women in my life early on always told me even if you're really broke, always invest in your face, you only have one face. [laughter] so by the expensive skin creams. >> and you go through those duty-free, and they've got everything out -- >> they do. >> and usually one is looking pretty wretched because you're just getting off -- so you're an easy target. >> such an easy target. i'm coming off this flight from uganda, and i look at duty-free, and i'm looking at the skin cream, and i just looked at the ingredient label just the see what's in here. and it's things like red number 5, yellow number 7, die meth
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cone, all kinds of toxic ingredients, and many of these things are known carcinogens that are allowed in $200 an ounce jars of skin cream. we're shelling out money which is not going to enterprises that support women in the supply chain. it's literally going to the man. . okay fine, do it. you're on the sign so i
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decided to join a third of my personal shares. and we also set it up we are going to the registration process. at the time i was starting the farmer source. the weight we structured it was in from michelle. this is the most rich and exciting space. what they call social business non- dividend companies and he argues that when you are freed from that profit mode but at the same time constrained by having to be sustainable as a business you need a revenue wave. that's where a lot of really powerful innovation can happen
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imagine if we have social enterprise prisons imaginatively ran so many i think it's easy to criticize government programs but social enterprise eliminate that. and they do have the don't have the pressure to deliver which can be at odds. the government can procure from such companies. some of these things may actually end up being sensibly a government mission. they may have some retraining programs to get them skilled and out. it is a public mission. there may be some public dollars. they can't do it while so that's why they can then turn to another source to try to help them combining procurement or public policy dollars with these kinds of institutions is very powerful.
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we will open it up to questions in five minutes. i've tons of questions to still ask. we talked about that process. and we talked about women. it is the case that there had been a lot of stories lately about what has happened to women in the text community. they are first world problems they are not and i know one of your comments and i agree with it is we have to worry about thinking about feminism as a first world issue. and they were women. they are much more extreme when you also combined heavy disadvantage but the point is in your own personal story where you had been successful and you have really good links with the tech community you are raising projects and some
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companies like google had you encountered that. have there been any special challenges associated with that. are there role models who have helped you. are there mentors who have helped you? how had you managed and in what sounds like a pretty hostile climate to have dick's success. and actually find the form of sexism that i find most problematic is actually paternalism. i can't tell you how many times people have said that so sweet. is that your full-time job. he who are you here with. it is that sort of thing that constantly undermines your sins of confidence especially
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when you get that right before you go on stage. and so, is a least of it. the problem that women in developing countries are facing we don't control the financial resources. that is the biggest issue. if you want to solve the problem with it. i think that is really at a different scale. it's the same issue everywhere. when i think about role models one of the people that inspired me to do this work was one of the women. she started an amazing organization called a world of good. when she traveled to developing countries you might see it like nordstrom's selling for $200. william -- the people that make them make like 10 cents. bought these products paid them living wages and then retailed them.
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she have the first fair trade brand. just a force of nature. you cannot say no to this woman. i saw her speak at a nonprofit conference in 2007 and she gave this amazing talk about starting her company. i decided that day i would eventually quit my job and do this full-time. her company then became profitable. she sold world of good to ebay and the first online fair trade retailer of art to the no goods. the other woman was a single woman she decided she was can have a family and she went about it in an amazing way. she went and had two kids on her own. and i have dessert -- dinner with her before she tragically passed away. you know we are so often told that we need to have this
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perfect partner and we need to have a family that looks a certain way and that should be planning a screw that. this is my plan a. it's a life i am living now. i've had amazing the filling career and doing work that benefits other people and to me is more important than having a picture-perfect white picket fence existence. i sat there and looking at her. and what she had built and i thought yeah, that's the way to do it. luckily she has a strong family. she inspired so many of us in our space and she have the doggedness of the most passion and strength to the world of social enterprise which desperately needs more leaders like that. i think you remind me a lot of priya. both priya and lila went through what is called the global venture competition.
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i was once dean there. among the accomplishments of my being teen one of the things i'm most proud of his starting this up. we built it out. we've a new partner in beirut. what's interesting about that story is oftentimes one thinks of mentors or role models someone that is racially different. in this case priya has been a role model for people of her generation. and it is is just a lovely story. one of the things that did come up over and over again in the work that we did on the un. was the importance of models that you could see a pathway you could see i can do this. this goes to your paternalism. the expectations people carry around about women.
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you are in a room and they are going to expect the certain things must be true of you because you are a woman. fascinating story i have to give up my right of asking questions now. to give it to the audience. we arty have some questions lined up right there. >> as a reminder if you have a question please make your way up to the mike. >> you have my heart. are you correlating with other like-minded organizations international and the peace corps that has been doing a lot of small enterprise development for this success for 50 years. yes. we had correlated with a lot of them. i have johnny price recently.
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they have been a mentor of ours for many years. what we try to do with these partners is basically help them implement similar kind of impacts. we consult the other nonprofits. and help them build sustainable business models. and we are also piloting a really cool program. we highlighted this where we teach people how to be digital freelancers. it is a huge marketplace where you can sell your services as a translator. amazing opportunity for someone who happens to live in a poor place but have the skills to do this kind of work. we just piloted a version of this where we have created a co- working space bar people can come and get this training and then they start pain once
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they do the training. if you can add a unit level it will be profitable. as long as the people are earning money by going to that. in migrant communities. many parts of the world where we do not have the bandwidth personally to operate. hi. property researchers have that at the hard-core poor. they have the population that you are dealing with. the government is left very inefficient with the hard-core poor. is there any thought they
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don't talk about inefficient government. they probably don't come close to anywhere what is happening with the sector. can you talk about anything that has been done because they are the ones that are dealing with the really deep poor. i talk about this in the book but we had been working for many years and really poor community in arkansas called dumas. the population there is what is what you would call hard-core poor and generational trauma never gets talked about if you had ancestors. in this area it was a fight to get anything done.
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we could not get high-speed internet to this community. we are very very big challenges with literacy rates. layer upon layer of struggle. we don't have the budget to retain this responsibly. in a range of different things and part of the problem in some of these communities in the u.s. is that there is no money to sustain them. if you live in poverty in new york city yes it sucks but there are tons of agencies and other resources and a lot of wealth around you that is creating institutions that can lift you up. no one is investing in dumas arkansas. and then trying to transition the program to local agencies. learning from that and maybe a
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few things. we have a tremendous infrastructure problem in this country. with other countries that have been investing massively. the second piece of this is i really think pure curing through social enterprise believe it or not. we might see a change. saving me the taxpayer the $200 per year there should be a tax benefit for that company that's doing it. i think we should be incentivizing hiring and creating jobs among these people. so many of the incentives that i see to bring the company into a new city had no requirements that the company actually hires them.
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the taxpayer dollars are going to subsidize a company moving into my city. hiring people ideally people who come from low income backgrounds. some were progressive cities they were happening at one fraction of 1%. i won't presume to know this all. i think we can move the needle was social enterprise. there are a lot of bipartisan thinking and support. whether they actually worked to get the population as it comes out. back into society. that is an area that i'm actually optimistic that state
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and local and maybe even federal dollars will be employed because there is a recognition. the only people that are our prisons and cells. my name is geronimo and thank you so much for speaking tonight. when i say refugee worker when workers are constantly on the move. country to country. such a great question. we started working through a partnership with care is a large humanitarian agency. it may serve a lot of refugee camps.
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they manage all of the info structure there. the biggest challenge we face is that technically it's illegal to hire refugees in many countries. they are seen as competed with locals for jobs. if the huge population of people that sitting in a camp that's unable to leave and also unable to leave. it is basically a recipe for disaster. it is no surprise because there is people. with nothing to do. no economic opportunity. i think a few things can happen. a lot people are urging reform for refugee work in saint that it is a right to work. there are all kinds of temporary work programs that are now being piloted that i think a really exciting. i think the second thing is equipping them with skills that are affordable. these are skills you can take with you and apply wherever you happen to be.
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with an online version and training program in different refugee communities. that model of getting people to find work on platform is very promising. and many people that we find. they are actually fairly will educated. are some of the refugee organizations see the big ones. you have to get that. you have the equipment. yet have the broadband. to have the environment are you working in partnership with that. one of the things that broke my heart is i first went there because i read the report.
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they had built the computer labs. in young people who had finished high school there was one one-room high school in a camp that is the most depressing thing you have ever seen. people have actually lived their entire lives and graduated from high school in that one room. and then started taking online university courses in the computer lab that is set up there. when i read that report i said that's where we have to do our training. there is internet intra- infrastructure enter infrastructure in that. the biggest obstacle the red tape around regulating whether they can do that. we had time for three more questions. just go in order and then well had to keep the next for the reception. >> i had two questions in and try to merge them together. my question is how did someone from outside of the community come in and find these individuals who obviously have skills and how you train them and is it like something you can do on a larger scale basis because training for new jobs is really essential. how do you actually get the products that have quality ingredients to be what went there.
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i still have not cracked that part i will let you know when i do. they have all of the certifications and we send raw materials to them. the social mission will not sell the product. the efficacy and the unique selling product will sell that. the product has to work. i actually sell the products on qvc. we show before and after photos. by the way this is also made by low income wyndham --dash women in uganda.
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the best thing to do working in these communities is to talk to locals and find out the organizations that are already successful in recruiting low-income people and what we did was said hey we know you guys already work there. you guys are doing all kinds of different empowerment training. we can be that provider of work if we can have some influence over the type of computer training you're doing. we've done that with the mgl. they have this beautiful training facility and they were really hungry for a curriculum that would actually lead to a job at the end. so often there is already an ecosystem that you can plug into without reinventing the wheel. the term scalability always comes up. if you find the right partners. we 50,000 people who had enrolled in schools online. from india and the philippines and i think it's like 65
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countries. and anyone can use that curriculum. he used the curriculum a digital training course. that curriculum is available for free. i encourage you all to go and start that. thank you. as more and more jobs are taken by machinery and new technology that we create what he incorporation. do you think the world economy will be able to create new jobs to replace all the ones that are being lost in what and what he think that the government can do to help businesses that are creating jobs in this area. as a trillion dollar question. i will say that labor economists are quite divided
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on ai. i spent some time with them. they are pessimistic about it. it's really hard speaking with an economist because i can't just throw out my random ideas as facts. i think the jury is out. i talked to a lot of people in machine learning i was talking to him about the facebook messenger chat box. our these just can take all of the customer service jobs. we need to create so much training data you have no idea. there will be a lot of jobs in creating that. i think the future is figuring out how your role will eventually interact with a computer.
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and how you can make the most of that hybrid. what we will see is just like we have seen with some a source. we were doing data entry. we were literally doing things like converting pdf files into text files. that can be done by software at a very high accuracy level. as we've grown the business. we have evolved what kind of services we offer. the best estimate i have heard is the singularity for the moment at which computer intelligence will eclipse. it will happen in like 2044. 2044. at that point all bets are off. until then. i think there will still be quite a need for human. the other thing that we should be aware of. we choose the economic system that we live in. these are not natural laws.
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when we decided that we were going to invest in job creation to do all sorts of things. we had people i remember discovering this in the library of congress people that were paid by the government to go out and report oil histories in the south. someone got paid to go and record by the government. because we thought it was important to preserve the cultural legacy of the south. these are the types of things that we could be investing in. we could fund farmers markets. there are so me things we could choose to fund with the surplus that machines can create if we don't have to do all of this manual labor or knowledge work. we can tax the gains that are
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made by these algorithms. often in things that women do. i'm optimistic i think it is going to take the well to reform the economic systems accordingly. everything you say is absolutely true. they are saying how fast the technology is moving. i am thinking how slow to the institutions and policies. we are falling behind. in addressing new organizational structures. one more question. i feel like i have the unpopular question. i hope it's not taken the wrong way. i'm just wondering how to help the participants turn their
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initial training and first jobs into sustainable and meaningful careers. how do you make sure that they're not taken advantage by the wrong people. .. >> so that's a really good question. >> it's a really good question. >> two pieces. so one is we have to make sure that we're paying living wages and we even know how to chait ally -- calculate a living wage. luckily, pria haji pioneered the
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fair wage guide which is still in existence. >> she did. >> you can look it up. and she brought together a group of academics at berkeley and around the country, i think, to understand the cost of living in urban and rural areas and every country in the world and to publish a neutral guide for people who are sourcing from developing country to understand what a living wage should be in that region. so we use that as the floor. at the very lowest, we have to pay living wages to our workers immediately upon joining sama source. in addition, we partner with many different nonprofits that provide financial literacy, we're working on providing micro loans to our workers, we provide health care insurance policy, we provide food on site, transportation. we're extremely highly rated by our work force, and one of the ways you can guard against, i think, you know, maybe the pressure to pay as little as possible is to actually publish and measure your net promoter score. this is something that's used often in the consumer tech world. the best measure of how well a
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company's doing is how well your clients would recommend it, right? you have a favorite app you're telling all your friends about it all the time. so interestingly, this is really never done in the social sector. i don't know many nonprofits that have a net promoter score where you're actually asking your beneficiaries, do you think we did a good job? did you provide a valuable service. we do that with our work source and publish this dataen to our site. the second thing i'll mention is the knowledge economy is fundamentally different from, for example, basic manufacturing. when you are working in front of a computer and using the internet and exposed to marketplaces and, you know, the idea of building an online reputation, and when you get a bank account and -- we actually force our workers to get bank accounts because that means they're part of the formal banking system which provides all sorts of other benefits, your life dramatically changes. we even have workers start googling things like what they should be making.
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what is the average salary for someone in knew robe by, you know? -- nairobi, you know? it would never have how occurred to them to do that. i think there's a fundamental shift that happens when we move people into the knowledge economy. and thankfully, the data really corroborates that. if you look at the trajectory of our workers and all this data that we publish, you'll find that they tend to stay out of poverty, and pretty dramatically so, long after they leave sama source. >> that's great. so i'm left with a question that is becoming a tradition, but i think it's a very odd question for you -- [laughter] because i think you've already done it. the question is what is your 60-second idea on how to make the world a better place. [laughter] well, i actually think we know your idea but, actually, you have more than one also. probably your staff is going, oh, no, she's going to come up with another one. >> yeah. >> okay? but anyway, do you have some new ideas? or, basically, i think you're
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making the world a better place on your old ideas. >> i'll summarize. you know, i think we're so often frustrated by what we see in the media and what our politicians are or aren't doing. we forget we vote with our dollars every time a cent leaves our bank account. with the products we buy, when we go to work at our companies, those companies are choosing the world we want to live in by the way they do their procurement. we can literally change the world. >> okay. >> in south africa during apartheid during a span of three years, the u.k. reduced imports of south african textiles by 35% because consumers said we cannot agree with this unethical regime, and we're not going to buy stuff from this regime until they change. and they toppled that empire. it happened. so we absolutely have the power to vote every second. and the more we do that as consumers, the better world we're going to live in. >> fantastic. all right. well, let us all thank this inspirational powerhouse.
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