This FORBES article follows the very personal career paths of 10 women who are writing their own stories.
LEILA JANAH Founder and CEO, Samasource; Cofounder and CEO, LXMI
Her Steps: From global development to a social-minded beauty brand
FORMATIVE EXPERIENCE She put herself through Harvard with scholarships and 3 part-time jobs, but always found a way to travel and work in development projects abroad. At 17, she spent 6 months teaching English at a school for blind students in Ghana.
TURNING POINT On a consulting assignment in India, Janah saw that outsourcing helped the middle class, but many were still left out. She founded a nonprofit, Samasource, to help those left out of the digital economy do simple tasks, like data entry, for clients such as Google, Walmart and Yahoo. “It dawned on me that it was possible to connect the dots between global poverty and the digital economy.”
NEXT STEP As a social enterprise, Samasource re-invests all profits and a good deal goes towards R&D for new job creation strategies. In 2015, Janah used that R&D branch to develop LXMI, a beauty brand that gives Ugandan women fair wages for harvesting and processing rare Nilotica plants into high-end moisturizers.
More: How she runs a social enterprise and a beauty brand at the same time. Read
Her Steps: From a young Gap executive to media founder
FORMATIVE EXPERIENCE Hired as Gap’s global director of digital and social media at 24, and named a Forbes 30 Under 30 listee, Tipograph watched market trends and connected with ecommerce founders and venture capitalists. She treated her executive position like “an MBA program where I collected a salary.”
TURNING POINT At Gap, she saw social, mobile videos were the most powerful way to drive sales. So she decided to make a company that helps retailers do that affordably. After a 4-month world tour to clear her head and scout talent, she started building MikMak.
NEXT STEP MikMak makes shoppable videos for retailers, and works with brands like L’Oréal and Kate Spade. In 2017, clients will be able to get their own set of tools for shoppable video creation.