Nairobi-based Sama, formerly SamaSource raises $70M to deliver training data for world’s most ambitious AI apps


Sama, the Nairobi-based AI company delivering accurate data for ambitious AI to Fortune 2000 companies, has raised an oversubscribed $70 million in Series B financing led by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), a global investment group, with participation from First Ascent Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Vistara Growth, in addition to all existing investors.

The AI data solutions landscape is highly fragmented, with many products built in silos, each solving one piece of the puzzle for developers. Sama will be using its new funding to build the first end-to-end AI platform that enables teams to manage the complete AI lifecycle from start to finish, resulting in faster development, and elimination of data transfer between products.

“At Sama, we’re committed to shaping a future of AI that’s accurate, fair, and ethical,” said Wendy Gonzalez, CEO of Sama. “The market is really fragmented but with our latest funding round and the support of our investors and community, we’re committed to becoming the first one-stop-shop for AI development.”

Sama powers cutting-edge technology by providing industry-leading training data quality for its clients, achieving up to 99.9% accuracy versus the industry average of 94%. To date, Sama agents have annotated over 1B image points on the platform, with an average of 1M tasks completed per month across industries such as manufacturing and robotics, bio and MedTech, autonomous vehicles, and entertainment. This allows the company to provide its customers with the highest quality training data for their AI projects to help them commercialize their technology faster.

CDPQ led this Series B Round through its Equity 253 fund which targets SMEs and promising technology companies that leverage diversity and inclusion as a vector of development and expansion. This investment is also aligned with its broader strategy to support and accelerate the growth of global disruptive AI technology companies such as Sama in all development stages.

“Sama has successfully captured the rising demand for fast, accurate, and cost-effective AI-powered training programs and built a strong pipeline of blue-chip clients while advocating for an ethical AI supply chain that contributes to reducing poverty and empowering women,” said Wils Theagene, Senior Director at CDPQ – Equity 253 fund. Sama is a high-tech company with a global footprint, including in Canada where it relies on a massive pool of machine learning talent. We look forward to supporting Sama in developing a research and product development hub in Montreal which will help them commercialize new AI-based solutions to support their Fortune 2000 clients.”

The launch of Sama Machine Learning Assisted Annotation MicroModels™

In addition to the fund raise, the company announces the launch of Sama Machine Learning Assisted Annotation MicroModels™, a proprietary and patented machine-assisted annotation technology. The offering powers 2-4x more efficient dataset annotation by providing one-click to human-in-the-loop validation. This process allows clients to achieve 8x faster AI development. Most importantly, the technology reduces the barriers to entry for Machine Learning teams with small or nonexistent R&D budgets by minimizing the need for time-consuming and intensive manual labor.

“Our MicroModel technology gives us the ability to rapidly adapt to the demanding needs of our customer’s ML model development,” said Loïc Juillard, VP of Research and Development at Sama. “Our team of researchers has made breakthrough discoveries that could soon change the way learnings are stored and processed in complex AI Systems.”

Included in B Corp’s Best for the World in the Workers category and as the only AI training data company to be B Corp certified, Sama’s ethical hiring model has helped over 56,000 people in Kenya and Uganda lift themselves out of poverty. To date, Sama is the only AI training data provider with a responsible training and employment program.

The company has received several recognitions, including inclusion on the Forbes AI 50, Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies, and Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas lists.