In her 37 years, Leila Janah made an incredible impact on the world.
The New York native passed away in January after battling epithelioid sarcoma. While the rare form of cancer limited this successful entrepreneur and dedicated humanitarian’s time on Earth, her legacy continues in every person whose life she turned around.
Leila’s mission began in 2000 when she traveled to Ghana as part of an international high school exchange program. There, she helped educate children who are blind and saw how difficult life can be.
“I had never experienced anything like the poverty I saw there,” she told Hearts on Fire. “I could feel the intense suffering caused by poverty, by seeing what people had to do every day to survive. It helped me to understand how poverty oppresses people.”
The change in perspective sparked an epiphany. She knew that to make a difference for those in need, she had to create opportunities for them first. So in 2008, the Harvard graduate founded Samasource in Nairobi. The nonprofit hires people in Kenya, Uganda, and India to do digital work for a living wage. The company has since employed about 11,000 people, helping them and their families out of poverty.
And Leila was just getting started! She especially wanted to focus on women, which is how her cosmetics line, LXMI, came to be in 2015.
Following its motto, “Beauty for Humanity,” the company employs hundreds of African women who have been widowed or otherwise affected by war.
These women are tasked with growing and harvesting ingredients for LXMI’s skin-care products. One of their main exports is Nilotica nuts, which are ethically sourced and produced mostly in Uganda.
LXMI pays its employees three times more than the average local wage, which enables them to support their families.
To Leila, there’s no better way to tackle poverty. In her book “Give Work,” she emphasizes that creating jobs gives people the power to change their own situations.
What an incredible visionary! LXMI is currently lamenting her loss, but they’re also reflecting on all the incredible things she’s accomplished.
Her commitment to creating a better world was unparalleled. The ripple effects of her work will be felt for generations. We are all committed to continuing Leila’s work and to ensuring her legacy and vision is carried out for years to come.
Rest in peace, Leila. You will always be remembered for your desire to help your fellow human being. Thank you for making the world a better place!
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