Leila Janah Foundation Announces Winners of Annual Give Work Challenge

Each winner receives one year of mentorship and a grant of $6,000 USD to continue building their businesses and impacting their communities.

The Leila Janah Foundation (LJF) has announced the winners of its sixth annual Give Work Challenge (GWC) for existing businesses.

The winners are Mvuvi (Kenya), Kono Farm (Kenya), Mawejje Creations (Uganda) and The Reusable Sanitary Pad Project (Uganda)

Each of the four companies will receive one year of mentorship and a grant of $6,000 to continue building their businesses and impacting their communities. The GWC is the Foundation’s primary execution of its mission to alleviate poverty and create new opportunities for entrepreneurs in East Africa by creating new work opportunities. 

“The Give Work Challenge is a movement that displays the powerful will of women and youth in East Africa to create decent work opportunities for their communities and play a role in global economic and gender empowerment. Through the GWC grant and mentorship, each of our winners will have a larger impact on their communities that will ripple out and positively impact many more individuals,” said Liliosa Mbirimi, Program Director at the Leila Janah Foundation. “We are proud to continue the mission of our namesake, Leila Janah, to alleviate global poverty by giving work, not handouts.” 

The LJF is the primary shareholder of Sama, the leader in providing data annotation solutions that power the AI models of the future. Both entities take their mission from Leila Janah, who founded Sama in 2008 on the belief that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. In its early inception, Sama received a major boost from a grant and since then has helped more than 65,000 people lift themselves out of poverty. The GWC aims to recreate that boost. Since its establishment in 2018, it has awarded more than USD 200,000 in grant money to 37 ventures, which have created 322 jobs for previously unemployed youth to enter the formal economy, supporting economic growth in Kenya and Uganda. 

Each GWC consists of a three-round competition, where entrepreneurs from Kenya and Uganda submit their business plans and information to a jury made up of Sama volunteers from East Africa and North America. Entrepreneurs who make it to the final round pitch live to a regional judging panel of volunteer seasoned entrepreneurs from Kenya and Uganda.  

“Sama and the LJF’s shared mission has already helped thousands in East Africa, whether it’s by helping them establish or grow their businesses, develop valuable work skills, materially improve their lives and positively affect their communities through formal employment or business ownership. Seeing what we have already accomplished reminds us that our mission is not complete, however. Our work to empower and support marginalized communities continues,” said Wendy Gonzalez, CEO of Sama and a member of the Board of Directors of the Leila Janah Foundation. 

The LJF also runs a GWC for new businesses in ideation, stealth or operating for less than 12 months at the time of application. In February 2023, four businesses were each awarded $4,000 in grant funding; a $1,000 incubator membership and training and mentorship for one year. 

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