Friday, July 13, 2012

Week in Review: Kiva, Not for Sale, and the fight against human trafficking

What if we could transform the $27.8 billion dollar human trafficking industry into an industry of entrepreneurship and empowerment?

There are more slaves in the world today -- more than 30 million -- than any other point in human history. Why? The problem is poverty. Where most trafficked individuals come from, 50 to 60% of the population lives on US$1 a day. Communities lacking economic opportunities and resources become hotbeds for exploitation.

These people are so hungry for opportunity that they become easy targets for people looking to take advantage of their eagerness to work. Recognizing that many of these people come from regions of the world that are rich with resources, the non-profit organization Not For Sale is working to combat slavery by bridging the connection between resources, customers and a workforce in desperate need of dignified employment.

Yesterday, Not For Sale announced itself as "the first cause to start a company" when it launched REBBL --which stands for roots, extracts, berries, bark and leaves -- a tonic tea company. The brainchild of San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt, REBBL sources its ingredients from the Peruvian Amazon, providing much needed jobs to a vulnerable community plagued by human trafficking.

REBBL is a bold and innovative idea to help Not For Sale's move toward the root of the problem and work towards prevention -- expanding economic opportunity at the same time.

Because women tend to have less education and economic options available to them, the trafficked population is overwhelmingly female. Pulitzer Prize winners and power couple Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn wrote about many of the issues facing women and ways to unleash their potential, in their book Half The Sky, the success of which led them to launch the Half The Sky Movement. The movement strives to raise awareness through videos, games, blogs and a PBS documentary series set to air in October and provide concrete steps to fight these problems and empower women.

Both Half the Sky and REBBL share our belief that change is possible, and the best solution is to empower everyone to be a part of the solution. Poverty is such a complicated and pervasive issue with no one size fits all.

Here at Kiva, we hope that by expanding access to financial services and promoting a culture of opportunity and entreprenuership, that we can address the larger issue of poverty. But our work with organizations that reach out to vulnerable and severely poor communities is key in the fight against slavery.

Watch Sheryl WuDunn discuss sex trafficking, equality and economic opportunities in this TED Talk.

Here is a video from Mashable, who recently interviewed Not For Sale's co-founder and president David Batstone about his vision for REBBL to help create a better world.

Photo courtesy of Not for Sale.