Why We Hired 3,000 Nepali Nationals for a Major Census Records Project


In 2013, Spokeo’s CEO Harrison Tang took an unforgettable trip to Nepal with the goal of organizing a workforce of 3,000 locals to transcribe 200 million census records!

Spokeo’s mission is to help people find and connect with others. With this mission in mind, the company decided to embark on a monumental effort to digitize 200 million historical census records ranging from 1790 to 1940. Census records during this time period are nearly all still on microfilms, which makes it virtually impossible for consumers to search for ancestors who lived during these centuries. The goal of the transcription project was to enhance Spokeo’s online data and make it easier for people to discover their own family histories.

Spokeo’s partner in the endeavor was CloudFactory, an on-demand workforce. CloudFactory’s mission is to provide meaningful work for the digital age to one million people in the developing world. Nepal is one of CloudFactory’s countries with the largest on-demand workforce, and at the time the unemployment rate was approximately 50 percent, according to the CIA. It was the natural choice when Spokeo began working with CloudFactory to execute this historic and wide-scale project.

The transcription project began in March of 2013. The team kicked off the endeavor with a ribbon cutting ceremony where they loaded the first census document onto a large TV screen, ate traditional Nepali sweets called “laddu” and even listened to an original song by a few of the employees! In May, Harrison travelled to Nepal to see the CloudFactory team in action. He was blown away watching hundreds of workers per day skillfully transcribing records at Internet cafes in Kathmandu. The entire project lasted two years, providing an economic boost for thousands of workers in Nepal, especially when the devastating earthquakes hit in 2015.

The Nepali workers made a significant impact on Spokeo, enriching our database and improving our customer experience. Now Spokeo has the most comprehensive information available in the people search industry. We cannot thank our Nepali partners enough for their hard work and dedication to this invaluable project!