The only way to change the entire world is by having partners around the world who are ready and willing to help you. Whether it’s opening an entire office or simply enlisting the help of a few individuals in a region who are familiar with local practices, global infrastructure will be needed to ensure long-lasting change is enacted.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Purizhansky.
Jon Purizhansky is the CEO of Joblio and a New York lawyer with years of international business experience. Jon is committed to upholding humanitarian standards in the international migrant labour industry through Joblio’s digital platform. He is focused on leveraging technology to bring transparency and efficiency into otherwise non-transparent ecosystems globally.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I grew up in Belarus, in what used to be the USSR. At a very early age, we fled our country as refugees and lived in Austria, and then Italy. This was a formative process for me — living in Austria, Italy, and eventually the US as a refugee taught me what it means to be a migrant. I also know what it’s like to be a migrant laborer; I had to work as we moved to help my family survive. Understanding the migrant experience is part of why I started Joblio with the aim of helping migrants find safe, well-compensated work around the world.
Eventually, I decided to study law in America so that I could help make the world a better place. Before Joblio, I was practicing immigration law in New York. One of the great things about living in New York is that it’s an essentially American hub of immigration and culture. You never know what kind of person you’re going to meet or how they’re going to broaden your cultural horizons. I think being around so many different people for most of my life is what encouraged me to get involved in international business in the first place.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Every person we help is a new story to remember. There are countless stories I’ve encountered that have shaped me into the person I am today. Still, there are a few specific stories I’ve come across since starting Joblio that really influenced me.
One of our Joblio analysts encountered the tragic story of a woman that would never have happened if Joblio had been around to help her. She was a 33-year-old Cameroonian national and the single mother of an 11-year-old child. In her city of Douala, she’d be lucky to earn 1 dollar per day. Looking for upward mobility, she contacted an agent who was supposed to help her find work abroad.
As it turns out, this agent was one of many unscrupulous middlemen who regularly prey upon migrant labourers. After demanding a huge loan of 1,000 dollars — which is a massive sum of money for someone in her position — the agent found her work as a domestic assistant in Lebanon. She was supposed to be earning 250 dollars every month. In reality, she was enslaved shortly after arriving in Lebanon and was chained to the wall of a barn with other slaves. She endured brutal conditions before running away.
Eventually, she was apprehended by Lebanese police and deported. Her agent refused to provide her with a refund, claiming that all he could do was send her back to Lebanon with a fake passport. She also learns at her next medical checkup that she’s suffering from both AIDS and Crohn’s disease. This woman would never have undergone this terrible experience if she had Joblio supporting her. We cut these middlemen out of the picture entirely and ensure migrants travel to new countries in a safe and legal fashion. Every day, thousands of people undergo similar trauma to hers — but Joblio is working to change that.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
In all of our lives, the most instrumental people are our family. They shape our values. My family has had the greatest impact on who I am.
Other than them, I’ve met so many other people having lived in different countries, having dealt with people on Wall Street and Main Street alike. I’ve had so many great mentors, and others who I simply learned from by watching their mistakes. Every experience in life is a learning experience. I just hope to become a better person who can do better for the world as a result of interacting with the people around me.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There’s a great poem of Marge Piercy’s called “To be of use.” One line of the poem reads:
“The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.”
The entire poem is about how nice it is to have a real purpose in life — to have something to do. I think everyone deserves an opportunity to be of use in a way that makes them happy. When I started working with international migrant labourers, I was convinced that all they needed was a chance to prove themselves and earn an honest living.
If everybody who wants to be of use was given an opportunity to showcase their talent, the world would be a better place. That’s why Joblio is working to ensure that real work with fair wages is available to anyone who seeks it.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
A good leader is open minded. You hire the best person for the job, even if they’re from a different background or have different beliefs than you do. In my own life, I’ve seen how beneficial it is to recruit from a wide array of people and listen to as many perspectives as possible before making a major business decision. While a leader is ultimately responsible for making an important choice, it never hurts to keep an open mind and consider what someone else has to say.
I also think you have to be flexible to succeed in the world of business. When you’re using technology to solve a social problem, you have to recognize that the technology might be replaced by something even better just a few years from now. Alternatively, the social problem could evolve and require a new solution. Staying on your toes and being ready to adjust your strategy is an essential part of finding success in the world of international business.
I would also say that having a global vision is important if you really want to change the world. It’s one thing to start a company or sell a product locally — it’s another beast entirely to try and reshape a global marketplace that needs reform. The only way you can succeed is by having a broad vision that guides you whenever you make an important decision. Having a positive vision for the future also encourages you in the face of setbacks and encourages other forward-thinking innovators to join with you and help make your vision a reality.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive social impact on our society. To begin, what problems are you aiming to solve?
Every year, millions of people of suffering under the yoke of modern slavery. The International Labour Organization actually believes that about 40 million people are in modern slavery. Some of them are victims of human trafficking, others are workers in various industries whose visas are being held hostage by vindictive employers.
These workers contribute to global economic growth and are often the only thing keeping vital sectors up and running. They harvest our food, make our clothes, and build our cities. More often than not, they’re struggling with pitiful wages and exploitative working conditions. Their true potential is being wasted while others profit from their exploitation. This isn’t just an economic issue — it’s a basic matter of human rights being violated.
How do you think your technology can address this?
Joblio is fighting against modern human slavery by providing workers with a platform that allows them to find fair and well-compensated work around the world. Rather than being exploited at home, they can use Joblio’s app to find a great position in a new country where their rights will be respected. They can even count on Joblio to make the immigration process as smooth and easy as possible.
Joblio is also rendering exploitative middlemen obsolete. These are recruiters who prey upon laborers all around the world — they promise good jobs and high wages to workers before sending them off to misleading destinations with poor prospects. These middlemen effectively profit off the exploitation of workers and create huge turnover in workforces around the world. Joblio cuts them out of the equation entirely and puts power back into the hands of the actual workers.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
It’s impossible to learn about modern human slavery and not feel outraged. I have observed human rights abuses in different countries throughout the world with my own eyes. It’s a combination of my own personal experiences and the stories of others that make me passionate about this.
There are so many luxuries we get to enjoy in the modern world that are often the products of exploitation — maybe the fruit you’re enjoying was harvested by workers who were paid meager wages, or the clothes you’re wearing were made in a dismal factory. We don’t have to exploit workers to enjoy these things — I actually think that better wages, improved working conditions, and a more transparent hiring market will benefit consumers, too.
I’ve met so many people from around the world who pretty much had no prospects of success to look forward to. They were exploited by their families, or by their bosses, or simply couldn’t find work at all. To see human potential go to waste is a terrible thing. After witnessing others stand up for migrant rights, I felt compelled to take part in the fight against human rights abuses. That’s why we created Joblio to ensure people could safely move around the globe without putting themselves in harm’s way. That’s what inspires me the most — I can personally contribute towards making the world a better place.
How do you think this might change the world?
Can you imagine a future where everyone is paid fairly for their work? Where companies can find qualified employees anywhere in the world? Just picture a tomorrow where consumers didn’t have to worry about whether their products were ethically sourced because it was all guaranteed through fair labour practices. I’m personally convinced that Joblio can help people around the globe make new and better lives for themselves by finding work abroad.
One of my main concerns is protecting the data and privacy of people who use Joblio to find work. If people trust our platform, it’s only natural that we should dedicate ourselves to avoiding the mishandling of their personal information. Any time you develop an app, website, or technology of any sort, you have to make sure users come first.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
- Understand the regulatory environment. When you’re trying to solve problems at the international level, you’re going to have to grapple with different rules and regulations. This is why it’s important to be flexible when conducting international business. You may be familiar with local rules and regulations, but what if people start using your tech on the other side of the world? How will you remain compliant with local standards that deviate from one another, while all the while paying attention to international standards that apply everywhere?
- Build global infrastructure. The only way to change the entire world is by having partners around the world who are ready and willing to help you. Whether it’s opening an entire office or simply enlisting the help of a few individuals in a region who are familiar with local practices, global infrastructure will be needed to ensure long-lasting change is enacted.
- Invest in logos and imagery which can be universally understood. At Joblio, our primary logo consists of two people shaking hands. It’s simple enough to understand wherever you travel across the globe — there’s no language barrier. If you want to create social change at the global level, you need to be able to relate to people around the world, and that means universality and simplicity.
- Leverage data and statistics. When we try to explain the scope and severity of modern slavery, we rely on statistics from organizations like the International Labour Organization. This helps everyday people better understand the issue we’re trying to solve — which in turn makes it easier for them to understand Joblio. Presenting clean, easy to understand infographics is a great way to get the public interested in whatever your business is focused on.
- Focus on success stories. There are so many stories of exploitation and abuse in the migrant labour industry. Finding and highlighting success stories reminds people that positive change is a real possibility — we just have to work toward it. Presenting the public with a name and a face helps them remember the issue you’re trying to solve as a company. It also makes them more sympathetic to your plight, which is important if you’re trying to sell a product or solicit donations.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Understand that a strong sense of ethics is one of your most valuable tools. As you begin to find success, you may find yourself approached by individuals who want you to sell out or change your business model for any number of reasons. Sticking to your guns and adhering to your principles will generate the best results in the long run. Don’t be discouraged when other people cut corners and trust in your motivating beliefs, and soon you’ll be making a positive impact on society. In my own experience, Joblio’s commitment to ethics is a major reason why we’ve found success.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
That’s easy — Elon Musk. He’s making the world a better place by combining capitalism and technology. I think that’s the most efficient way to solve problems and improve people’s lives.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.