Isn't it Crazy...
We think it’s crazy that in this day and age, millions of people in poor countries suffer from debilitating medical conditions that can be treated with a simple surgery.
So we teamed up to do something about it. Samahope, a website we’re building, lets you change a person's life for just a few dollars by funding his or her procedure. We focus on surgeries that are low cost, have a high rate of success, and create major life impact for the patient, including treatment for burns, cleft palate, and obstetric fistula. You can learn all about the procedures we fund here.
How it Works
1. We choose great partners
We vet local clinics and hospitals in poor communities with a track record of excellent care using a combination of interviews, analysis of the clinic’s financial information, publicly available reviews on leading charity watchdog sites, and on-site visits.
2. Users fund real patients
Approved partners post profiles of real patients who have recently received or are awaiting a surgery. Visitors to Samahope choose patients they’d like to fund and donate via PayPal or credit card. Thanks to the support of a few early donors and our “tip jar” system, 100% of users’ donations go to the surgical partner for conducting the procedure.
Each month, we collect donations for each patient and send them to the partner performing the surgery. Our partners posts updates on a regular basis to allow donors to track the progress of the surgeries they have funded.
3. We ensure donors’ money is well spent
We conduct frequent site and patient audits using a combination of staff and volunteer field visits to guarantee all information on the site is accurate, to the best of our knowledge. With fewer than 1,000 surgeries on Samahope, we are able to audit 10% or more of all surgeries. As the site scales, we will adjust our audit sample size accordingly. For a list of current patient audits, please refer to Tab 2 of our transparency document.
Who We Are
We are an all-volunteer team that believes technology and direct giving can dramatically reduce suffering around the world. Leila is a social entrepreneur who founded Samasource four years ago. While in Sierra Leone last year, Leila met Dr. Maggi, a retired Texan OB/GYN who was performing 200 volunteer surgeries each year and fundraising on his own. When she returned home, she called Shawn, who had recently visited Sierra Leone and assisted Dr. Maggi with website and database work. Together, the two came up with the idea for Samahope. They soon roped in Shivani, an experienced program manager who had just quit her job at McKinsey, to help scale the site and launch it. Along the way, we convinced Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, to sign on as an advisor. To ignite the operation, an initial donation of $25,000 was provided by one of Leila’s board members to cover a portion of our startup costs.
With Your Help
We need your help to make Samahope happen. With $50,000, we plan to scale by:
- Adding new partners - we’ll hire a part-time staff member to help us interview and vet new partner organizations.
- Adding 1,000 more surgeries - we’ll recruit 5 volunteers to visit partners on site to load patient profiles into the system and validate patient information with partial travel stipends.
- Marketing the site widely to potential donors - we’ll retain a fantastic PR and marketing agency or contract professional at a discounted rate to spread awareness of what we do through social media, our blog, and advertising.
- Working together as a team - we are currently all volunteers. We do most of our work on Skype and in Google Hangouts, but occasionally, we need to meet face-to-face. A modest travel budget would allow Shivani (who lives in NYC) to travel to California to meet up with Shawn and Leila (who live in LA and SF) several times in the next year. This would also allow us to visit other field partners.
If this campaign exceeds our wildest dreams and raises over $100,000, we’ll be able to invest in a solid team that can do so much more:
- Improving the user experience - we’ll invest more in site development to make Samahope faster and easier to use; build a better email and communications system with donors (personalized updates on each patient); and build stronger donor marketing campaigns targeted to major life events (such as weddings, birthdays, and having a baby).
- Improving the partner interface - we can create and provide robust reporting and administrative tools for partners, making it easy for partners to share and work with Samahope.
- Creating stronger profiles of patients - we'll add video profiles, add the ability to update profiles with post-surgery information, and explore better ways to connect directly with patients.
- Adding 5,000 more surgeries to the site - we'll add substantially more surgeries to the site.
What You Get
We’re offering some incredible perks to friends in the Indiegogo community who support our campaign, with anything from $1 to $15,000. From "Give Life" pins to rad African-print caps, totes, and headbands, we’ve got you covered. We’re also offering the trip of a lifetime for donors at the $15,000 level.
Crowdfunding has radically changed the funding landscape for startups, medical innovation, creative projects, nonprofits, and even schools. Why not share the benefits of this model with the millions of people who need medical treatment but can’t afford it, by funding their surgeries?
We’ve built a site that does exactly that. Samahope could close the gap in funding for women who can’t afford to treat painful conditions arising from giving birth, and for children who are disfigured from burns or cleft palate. With your support, Samahope could grow into a platform for funding all kinds of treatable medical problems.
Our team will make this happen. Shawn has worked as an engineer for over a decade, building websites and technology solutions for leading companies including Allstate. Shivani, a former product manager, launched and marketed successful products at Microsoft and the Grameen Foundation. Leila built Samasource, an innovative social business, into a global operation with 3,000 workers in East Africa and South Asia.
Thank You + Ways to Get Involved
We are grateful for any support you can offer to get Samahope off the ground. Giving to our campaign at any level sends a signal to your friends that you care about fixing the funding problem for medical treatment for the poor.
We invite you to help us spread our message online and offline to your friends and family. Please use Indiegogo’s helpful share tools to create a ripple effect with your gift.
More on the Team
Leila Janah is the founder of Samasource, an award-winning social business that connects people living in poverty to work via the internet. Leila is also on the Board of CARE. Early in her career, she co-founded Incentives for Global Health with Yale-based moral philosopher Dr. Thomas Pogge and helped produce a plan for incentivizing the development of new drugs for neglected diseases. Fun Fact: Leila was an anchor for a local, low-budget teen news program on a city-cable TV station in CA.
Shawn Graft spends most of his waking hours thinking of ways to
improve processes using technology. He brings his start-up mentality
to the corporate world and constantly challenges himself and others to
"Get Stuff Done!" His approach is pragmatic but progressive. Shawn and his wife welcomed their daughter, Sloane, to their family earlier this year. Fun Fact: Shawn often goes on long cycling rides or runs to brainstorm. He and his wife raced and completed a 36 mile beach run in 2010...on sand.
Shivani Garg Patel is a former product manager, consultant turned social entrepreneur. Throughout her career, Shivani has focused on technology driven innovation across the private, public and social sectors. Her work with Samahope is inspired partly by her time in college leading a non-profit providing free medical and social services to the low-income population of Berkeley. Fun Fact: Shivani once modeled facial expressions for an english-language learning book in Japan.
Visit www.samahope.org to learn more