Tuition was due. The rent was, too. So Mary Mbugua, a university student in Nyeri, Kenya, went out in search of a job. At first, she tried selling insurance policies, but that only paid on commission and she never sold one. Then she sat behind the reception desk at a hotel, but it ran into financial trouble.
Finally, a friend offered to help her break into “academic writing,” a lucrative industry in Kenya that involves doing school assignments online for college students in the United States, Britain and Australia. Ms. Mbugua felt conflicted.
“This is cheating,” she said. “But do you have a choice? We have to make money. We have to make a living.”