It was a pleasure an honor to meet Leila Janah at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (#GES2016) and interview her for the podcast. Since launching Samasource in 2008, Leila has been not only a participant in social enterprise, but has been a leader, advocate, and trusted voice in the space.

She spoke in the plenary session of #GES2016 Plus, a day focused on women and youth in entrepreneurship. The plenary session explored new global innovations and the entrepreneurs that are attracting funding, breaking the status quo and changing the world.

  • Moderator: Brad Stone – Bloomberg West
  • Oren Yakobovich – Founder, Videre and 2016 Skoll Foundation Entrepreneur
  • Leila Janah – Founder, Sama and Founder, Laxmi
  •  Ooshma Garg, Founder and CEO, Gobble

To hear insightful remarks and reflections by Ooshma Garg, please listen to our episode: Live at #GES2016 Plus.

Listen to the Podcast

Meet Leila Janah

Meet Leila JanahLeila Janah is the Founder and CEO of Sama Group, Co-Founder and CEO ofLaxmi, and an award-winning social entrepreneur. Her work focuses on bringing living-wage jobs to poor women and youth to reduce poverty and build better communities.

Leila is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a Director of CARE USA, a 2012 TechFellow, recipient of the inaugural Club de Madrid Young Leadership Award, and in 2014, was the youngest person to win a Heinz Award.

The idea for Samasource began in high school, where Leila was already interested in social justice and involved with the American Civil Liberties Union and a couple of local organizations. At 17, Ms. Janah went to Ghana on a scholarship to teach English. She then studied African development at Harvard, and later worked for the World Bank, getting frustrated with the large-scale development approach in places like Africa.

Show Notes

  • Sama Group
  • Samasource
    • Value proposition: non-profit business that connects marginalized women and youth to dignified work via the Internet.
    • website:
  • Samaschool
  • Laxmi
    • Value proposition: unite undiscovered, effective natural ingredients with transparent, responsible production and sourcing practices. Engage women to take part in the world in a way that creates lasting beauty.
    • website:



President Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Entrepreneurs at #GES2016

In these quiet and reflective moments after the Global Entrepreneurship Summit I have been trying to put words to thought. The three days of GES, the experience of Innov8social covering the event, seeing noted leaders from the US, Silicon Valley, and the globe; including President Obama, Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman, Secretary of State John Kerry was a profound experience.

The opportunity to meet and interview incredible social entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders including Leila Janah, Daymond John, Cheryl Yeoh,, and GES stars Kenia Mattis and Jean Bosco—all of whom who graciously joined our live podcasting— provided a meaningful way to share the experience and inspiration.

Listen to the Podcast Episodes

Now that a few days have afforded some time to reflect and act on the experience, there is more. Perhaps it is 5+ years of blogging, but I tend to think in lists. And here is one about what I learned from the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 (#GES2016).


3 Things I Learned at #GES2016 – Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016


Learned at #GES2016 with Steve Case with GES Entrepreneurs

1. Social Entrepreneurship Has Reached the Main Stage.

Panels and discussions that five years ago would have been happening in breakout sessions or over the water cooler among social impact-aligned delegates and entrepreneurs, were front and center on main stage. Right from the plenary session when Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel opened by saying “we are all social entrepreneurs”, to the panel discussion in that same plenary session moderated by Chamath Palihapitiya, of Social Capital, in which all of the entrepreneurs were mission-driven—social entrepreneurship was less a ‘separate kind of entrepreneurship’ at GES but more ‘the future of entrepreneurship’. For further evidence simply look to the agenda of sessions as well as the docket of press releases announced, including a host of new impact funds by venture capital, incubators, and foundations.

Learned at #GES2016 with Chamath Palihapitiya2. We Must Start Where We Are.

We heard stories from entrepreneurs in post-conflict Africa to those who grapple with multiple failures, traction that is gradual to build, lack of any type of funding resembling numbers and sources we see in Silicon Valley, and the drive to persevere from successful social entrepreneurs like Cheryl Yeoh who has been ‘the other’ by way of ethnicity, race, culture, and socio-economic background but leveraged her determination and vision to not only lead and exit a successful enterprise, but then return to her home country of Malaysia to head the country’s bold initiative to encourage entrepreneurs, MaGIC, to create new pathways and opportunities for future leaders and social entrepreneurs.

My favorite example of starting where you are is GES itself. Initiated by President Obama in his first year in office, he and his administration could have no idea that six iterations later they would have created not just an event, but an institution. With spinoffs such as the White House PAGE program, numerous announcements of impact-driven entrepreneurial, education, and investment initiatives, and beyond that, a culture of inclusion, accessibility, and possibility bring people from corners of the country and world together. He started where he was, as a new president with an innovative idea, and iteratively, that idea has grown and become more impactful over time.


3. The World Is Waiting, For Us.

Learned at #GES2016 with Sundar PichaiSundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said of the future of entrepreneurship at the closing plenary session of GES2016: “it’s about more than building apps to make money, it’s about transforming industries, creating millions of jobs, curing diseases, fighting global warming, making our schools better for our children.”

Pichai ended his speech, “We’re all looking to you. The world is counting on you, and we can’t wait to see what you build next.”

President Obama continued the sentiment, “I believe in you, and America believes in you.  And we believe that you have the talent and the skills and the ambition not just to pursue your dreams, but to realize them; that you can lift up not just your own families, but communities and countries, and create opportunity and prosperity and hope for decades to come.  That’s the promise that we see in all of you.”

The world is waiting. Entrepreneurship is changing. We have been issued a call to action by our President and innovative leaders who have changed the game themselves. We are ready to go and do.


Innov8social Photos from #GES2016


 Watch the Video Recaps



Innov8social is at #GES2016 Closing Day where President Barack Obama, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the cast of ‘Silicon Valley’, and global social entrepreneurs spoke at the plenary sessions.

Listen in to hear reflections from that morning session, learn about a few opportunities to further your social enterprise work and receive funding, and also hear from Shark Tank investor Daymond John about his perspectives on impact entrepreneurship. 

live at #GES2016 closing day

Live at #GES2016 Closing Day with Daymond John, Kiva, GES Global Social Entrepreneurs

Listen to the Episode

Show Notes

Alice Fenton, Silicon Valley Startup Cup

Vallerie Bellande, Sr. Business Development Manager at

Jean Bosco Nzeyimana from Rwanda, Founder of Habona

Daymond John, founder of FUBU, Investor, Shark Tank

Kenia Mattis

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Watch the Video Recap


More Innov8social Coverages of #GES2016

Podcast Episodes

Video Recaps

Photos from #GES2016