Businesses around the world are emerging as employers of survivors of human trafficking. Often it is opportunities like these that help survivors get back on their feet or help prevent vulnerable individuals from being trafficked.
Outland Denim is one such company that employs vulnerable women in Southeast Asia, paying them a living wage and giving them a sustainable career. Speaking to Racked, Outland CEO James Bartle explained the purpose behind the business:
Bartle says that giving women the opportunity to become skilled workers earning a fair wage is crucial because many trafficking victims are lured into slavery with false promises of employment.
“They’ll move to another country to get this job that’s been promised, and they get there and are held as a slave,” he says. “We had a girl promised a job at a hotel in Malaysia. They took her into Malaysia and then locked her in jail for being an illegal immigrant. Other girls get stuck in brothels, and it’s hell for them.”
Other “profit-for-purpose” companies like Purpose Jewelry, Malia Designs, and Elegantees are also helping victims of trafficking.
Wendy Dailey, president and cofounder of International Sanctuary and Purpose Jewelry, says her organization works directly with organizations that provide trafficking survivors with shelter and basic emergency services. Once the women are ready, her business can help with steady employment. “The social workers come to us… and we provide thorough training of jewelry-making as the conduit to be able to build relationships, establish trust, and to create a safe environment where they can learn from each other,” she said.
Leaders of all of these companies say they want consumers to buy their products because they are well-designed and high quality. The fact that they are helping trafficking survivors is an added bonus.
“A pity purchase isn’t going to be sustainable for the girls and the survivors. The strength of the brand is going to allow us to transform lives. As far as being a strong brand — that’s really what we’re after,” added Dailey.