Leila Janah



Leila Janah is pouring her life into creating a more sustainable world. After all, her company has "equality" built into its name. Janah is the founder of Sama Group ("sama" means equality in Sanskrit), a not-for-profit organization that seeks to improve the lives of those living below the poverty line. It has three different efforts: Samasource, which connects people in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to digital jobs; Samaschool, which trains people in digital skills, and Samahope, a crowdfunding platform to fund medical treatments.


Janah is also sourcing ingredients from low-income communities for her newly launched skincare line Laxmi. All this, and she’s only 33.

What about your job most excites you?

The chance to work with the best people in the world, who happen to share my values and passion. The 22-year-olds in our office blow me away.


How many hours do you sleep?

6-7 hours. If I could have any superpower, it would be to sleep less.


What do you eat for breakfast?

Home: green smoothies in my Vitamix. Away: almonds, berries, and whatever other hunter-gatherer type food is around.


If you could pitch to one person, who would it be?

Melinda Gates


What’s on your home screen?

Evernote, Paper by 53, Gmail, YogaGlo and the New Yorker.


How often do you exercise?

Daily. Even if just for 20 minutes.


What app can’t you live without?

Evernote. It's my brain/desk/journal in one.


What's your favorite city and why?

Rio. Samba, bossa nova and beaches.


What’s the most important company we’ve never heard of?

Ecoalf. Barcelona fashion brand making coats from plastic recycled from the Mediterranean Sea. I wish their name were as cool as their design.


Are there any social platforms you refuse to participate in?

Everyone is all about Peach but I have no time for another platform.


What are you reading right now?

Paragliding: a Pilot's Training Manual


Do you think there’s a tech bubble?

Definitely. As long as Uber is subsidizing rides with VC money, Lyft will be doing the same, which means most of Silicon Valley is invested in two companies whose pricing is artificial. That's scary.


Best piece of advice you've been given?

"Trust the world," my grandmother's advice after hitchhiking around the world on $5 in 1948. She set my life motto.


What keeps you up at night?

The fact that at least 1 billion people work extremely hard and still earn less than $2 a day for toiling away in mines, on fields and in homes. It's a disgrace. But there are solutions -- Sama is one of them.


If you could tell your 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?

Don't bother taking the LSAT. And buy some Facebook shares as soon as you graduate.

Photo Credits: Leila Janah, Shutterstock, Getty Images