Poverty reduction through microwork: a case study of Samasource

Louise Amungwa Mikkelsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This dissertation sets out to explore the concept and issues surrounding poverty, with an ambition to show how microwork can be a sustainable solution to poverty reduction. Poverty is a global challenge impacting more than half of the world’s population. The failure of development aid to produce anticipated results to the issue of poverty has increased the popularity of the bottom up approach. The solutions adopted by this approach will be directed towards the poor per se. The wellbeing of poor people can be improved through substantial job creation. Through the single case study of Samasource, this dissertation investigates how the company uses its business model to fight against poverty. In simple terms, the organisation uses its high quality online platform to outsource computer-based jobs (microwork) to youths and women in poor regions geared at helping them out of poverty. The findings from this study indicate the following: firstly, Samasource has created and distributed 6,794 jobs and impacted an additional 20,993 people and local communities. Therefore, Samasource’s business model has channelled a substantial amount of jobs to help the poor out of poverty. Furthermore, there is however some doubt as to whether the organisation really targets the BOP segment per se, judged by the character traits of some of their workers. This thesis confirms Samasource’s alignment to multidimensional poverty. The company goes beyond the income aspect of poverty (as opposed to the BOP), to incorporate non-financial deprivations like education and capability building, as advocated in multidimensional poverty. Additionally, this thesis concludes that Samasource has incorporated sustainability and CSR related dimensions by ensuring that the economic, social and ethical responsibilities are respected. Last but not least, this study revealed that despite its achievement, Samasource faces a couple of challenges that they must be taken into consideration in order to increase their chances of scaling more.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages89