What to Watch at Ideas Week: Leila Janah

There's a lot to wrap your mind around with the approaching Chicago Ideas Week.

It's the first gathering of its kind in our fair city, and it's a doozy: From Oct. 10 through 16, there will be an invasion of diverse speakers ranging from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Fran Drescher to Wes Craven and plenty of other names you might not recognize. They're appearing at venues all over and will be imparting their wisdom on so many topics there honestly isn't enough space here to print them all.

It's on that last bent where we come in.

With big marquee names, you'll obviously know who they are and whether you want to come listen to them. Between now and October 10, we'll be dishing out regular shoutouts, or shining the spotlight on folks who you might otherwise miss out on but definitely shouldn't as an aspiring entrepreneur.

Inaugural capsule profile: Leila Janah.

Accolades: Named one of Fast Company's Most Influential Women in Technology in 2009; snagged the Prix NetExplorateur from the French Senate and a World Tech Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2010.

Why you should care: Janah might be young -- she was born in 1983 -- but she's whipsmart and has already accomplished much in her field.

As the founder and CEO of non-profit Samasource, she's carved a niche for herself by providing digital work to impoverished people around the world, or "microwork."

In an age where people think additional schools or celebrities visiting poorer countries will fix their problems, Janah boldly has gone her own direction, rolled up her sleeves, and dedicated herself to social change.

She's also a fantastic reminder that not all entrepreneurs care about the bottom line; that people can go into business for themselves to make a difference for everyone. 

When you can see her: October 10, Museum of Contemporary Art, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.

You can check out the full list of speakers here, and register for passes here.

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