Abolitionists take on slavery – online
Changemakers.net hosts global competition for innovative solutions to human trafficking.
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Ms. Symons realized in 2005 that the handicrafts they made for therapeutic purposes could turn into a full-blown economic opportunity.Skip to next paragraph
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Today, she and her husband, John Berger, who left a Wall Street career to join the venture, work with 18 shelters in eight countries that care for former slaves. TEN trains the survivors in business development and product design, and purchases and sells the handicrafts in the US (www.madebysurvivors.com).
They market the crafts online, in a store on Cape Cod, Mass., and particularly through home "awareness" parties. The home parties also serve as a means to educate people about slavery and build the abolition movement in the US, Mr. Berger says in an interview. (They also partner with Polaris Project and Free the Slaves, in the US.)
This summer, TEN opened the Destiny Production Center in a three-story house in Calcutta, India, where a number of women will work and provide for themselves. The $5,000 prize for winning the competition will go to the Center. "Thanks to this competition, we have found some new partners and programs to work with, and the prize will help us buy sewing machines and pay wages to the survivors," Berger says.
He sees the contest as bringing benefits to all involved, not just the winners. "The abolitionist movement is still small, and the competition provided a great opportunity for little-known but amazing programs to let the world know about their work," he adds. The comments from others also help groups modify and strengthen their programs.
Other nonprofits among the 15 finalists ranged from a coalition against trafficking of women and girls, which educates young men and groups such as cabdrivers about sexual exploitation, to an
antitrafficking task force focused on the ports in the Philippines.
"A lot of times folks on the ground with a great innovation that has impact don't have time to showcase it. We give them space to present their 'innovation blueprint,'" Mr. Llantada says. Each competition not only builds a community and spurs others to action, he adds, but serves to connect projects with foundations and other philanthropists.
The latest competition, now under way, is a Changemakers partnership with Citi, called "Banking for Social Change," which seeks cutting-edge methods that will "allow financial security to become a reality for everyone."