Long-term Justice: Business Solutions to Human Trafficking

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe. Our final post for the series is ‘from the archives’, revisiting this post on what it takes to bring long-term justice and transformation.

By Mats Tunehag

In the 1700’s the slave trade was widely accepted and legal. It was, in fact, a backbone of the economy of the British Empire. It was a big, organized and transnational business.

William Wilberforce and the Clapham group decided to fight this evil trade. They chose to attack the systemic issue – the legality of slave trade and slavery. To that end they organized a decades long campaign focusing on justice, aiming at a root cause. They worked politically to change unjust and ungodly laws that permitted the dehumanizing trade.

They could have chosen an easier route of awareness campaigns and a boycott of sugar from plantations in Jamaica, but they knew such initiatives in themselves would not free the slaves or bring about lasting change. The feel good factor may have been higher, but the long-term outcomes would have been meager.

Charity and Justice

Today the slave trade and slavery are illegal, but not dead. Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and it is a lucrative and evil business. Just like Wilberforce and his colleagues, we need to ask what the systemic issue is today – and we need to go beyond charitable actions to fight for justice.

We visited St. Andrew Catholic Church in Clemson, South Carolina early 2016, and their vision statement struck us:

“Charity” is the generosity that alleviates needs that are immediate. “Justice” is the process by which generosity configures our ways of providing education, delivering health care, doing business, and creating laws that lessen the need for charity. There will always be immediate needs even in the most just of worlds.

Charity is the more attractive generosity. We see immediate results for the better and we enjoy – here and now – the gratification that comes from doing good. Justice is less attractive because it usually calls for personal and communal change, and we are creatures of habit.

We often respond to needs and global issues through non-profit charity models. But the danger is that some may have more of a PR function sprinkled with feel good factors, rather than dealing with systemic issues and root causes.

Wilberforce and the Clapham group were not popular; they worked against an institution – slavery – that was broadly accepted. Today, taking a position against human trafficking is among the easiest things you can do. The world will applaud you! But how can your stand free slaves and restore human dignity? Read more

Beacons of Hope: Economic Justice through Freedom Business

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe.  In our third post in the series, Karen Schmidt introduces us to economic justice through Freedom Business.

By Karen Schmidt

Human trafficking remains a pervasive global issue. According to the most recent statistics from the International Labor Organization (ILO), an estimated 49.6 million people are living in modern slavery. This number underscores the magnitude of the problem and the urgent need for comprehensive solutions.

Individuals often enter the cycle of exploitation due to economic vulnerabilities. Poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and limited job prospects make them susceptible to traffickers’ promises of a better life.

In the pursuit to combat human trafficking, the synergy between economic justice and Freedom Business emerges as a beacon of hope.

Committed to the creation of a healing-centered workplace, fair pay, good working conditions, and transparency & accountability, members of the Freedom Business Alliance (FBA) provide jobs that break the cycle of vulnerability. Through access to financial resources, job training, and sustainable employment, survivors are able to meet their basic needs, support themselves and their families, and reduce the risk factors that make them vulnerable to exploitation.

Read more

Business Hope in Adversity: An Interview with a BAM Company in the Middle East

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe. In this interview, we have the privilege of hearing from a BAM practitioner in the Middle East.

 

Malika H and her husband began their tourism company in Türkiye over 20 years ago.

The couple has since fostered not only a highly successful business – bringing in sustainable profits and demonstrating their commitment to the four bottom lines – but also a vibrant and close-knit community within their company.

The couple’s appreciation for life makes them excellent curators of delightful experiences for customers and friends who travel to Türkiye. Having spent time with them in the past, I also witnessed firsthand how they cultivate a culture of genuine joy, optimism, and connection around them.

It hasn’t always been easy. External threats and difficult operating conditions have affected this company in tangible ways. For this series on BAM as Justice, we wanted to share a firsthand perspective of holding onto hope and demonstrating integrity and justice, in the face of challenge.

….and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Thes 4: 11-14

I took a sip of my morning coffee as Malika set up her camera. It was still dark out, my eyes were still adjusting to the bright desk light, and although my questions weren’t as elegantly prepared as I would have liked, I knew that what I would hear from Malika was going to be good.

It was sweet to see her again, even if just over video chat.

I pulled up my notes and started by asking Malika to add some background:

What sort of company is it? Where are they located? How did they start? And how do they navigate operating a business in their region?

Our tourism company is located in Türkiye, which is a very desirable destination on the global travel scene. We don’t usually have to convince people to want to come here, nevertheless, it can be a volatile area.

We started our company several years after 9/11, which set the stage for the reality of what it’s like to run a tourism company in a part of the world that is connected to the Middle East. At that time, all the tourism had dropped, and it was a long process requiring a period of stability and calm to see the industry return.

Since then, we’ve had to ride several waves of ups and downs…

Read more

4 Things to Know about How Business Fights Poverty

In our series this month “Exploring BAM as Justice: Choosing Hope in the Face of Challenge” we’re taking a deep dive into the intersection of faith, business, and complex global realities. We’ll be looking at business as mission’s impact on poverty and justice issues across the globe. Here’s the first post with some essential points on how business fights poverty.

1. Poverty means more than just material poverty

Poverty in the biblical sense goes beyond lack of money and all its implications, although that’s part of it.

Christian development thinker Bryant Myers, in his seminal book Walking with the Poor, describes the nature of poverty as follows:

Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, they are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings. [1]

He took the biblical idea of shalom as the fullness of life that God intended before the Fall, where humans are in right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of Creation.

Poverty, therefore, is the outcome of sin and brokenness in these four relationships.

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert built on Myer’s framework for their book When Helping Hurts and their work at the Chalmers Center. They put it this way:

The question of ‘What does it mean to be poor?’ requires more than a simple answer. We are all poor in our own way, as we grapple with the brokenness in the four key relationships in this world. Poverty is not solely about a lack of money; it encompasses a lack of intimacy with God, a lack of sensing one’s own worth, a lack of community, and a lack of stewardship over creation. – Chalmers Center

We all suffer from different types of poverty; you can be financially rich but socially poor, or financially poor but spiritually rich because you know Jesus.

To fight different kinds of poverty, we need to create different kinds of wealth.

Business has a special capacity to create financial wealth, but also has the potential to create different kinds of wealth for many stakeholders, including social, intellectual, physical, and spiritual wealth. – Wealth Creation Manifesto, Affirmation #8

Business as mission enterprises have the opportunity to bring positive impact in all four areas of our broken relationships: relationship with self, relationship with God, relationship with others, and relationship with the rest of creation. Business as mission is a holistic mission model with the potential to create wealth and address poverty in multiple different ways.

2. Business is part of God’s design and is uniquely positioned to respond to poverty

Business is not evil, it’s not even neutral; it is part of God’s good design. [2] Of course, since the Fall when all things were corrupted by sin, business has the potential to do harm or be used for evil (intentionally or unintentionally). But, it can also glorify God and do good. That is part of God’s original purpose for business; He designed the enterprise of business to enable individuals, families, and human society to flourish. Read more

The Power of Business to Bring Freedom to the Enslaved

This month we are exploring different motives a missional entrepreneur may have for pursuing business as mission as their strategy of choice. In this third post, we are exploring the power of business to bring economic solutions to human trafficking and freedom to the enslaved. Download the 2022 IMPACT Report from the Freedom Business Alliance below to learn much more.

by Freedom Business Alliance

Ghanaian diplomat and former Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan introduced the issue of human trafficking to the UN General Assembly in 2000 with this statement:

I believe the trafficking of persons, particularly women and children, for forced and exploitative labor, especially for sexual exploitation, is one of the most egregious violations of human rights which the United Nations now confronts.¹

Over twenty years later, this egregious violation not only still exists, but has increased. The International Labour Organization estimates that at any given time, 50 million people, predominantly women and girls, are trapped in modern slavery, an increase in 10 million compared to 2016 estimates.²

The Business of Human Trafficking

While awareness of this global crisis has grown in recent years, many still do not recognize the economic aspects of the issue, leaving a complete solution just out of grasp, until now. Freedom Businesses have been launched to address this gap, arising as a groundswell response from entrepreneurs operating in the anti-trafficking ecosystem, all of whom are on mission to create life-giving jobs for survivors of human trafficking and labor exploitation.

Make no mistake: human trafficking is a business. It is estimated that the total profits obtained from the use of forced labour in the private economy worldwide amount to US$150 billion per year. 3 While there are still legal and law enforcement issues to be improved, a major root cause of trafficking is economic vulnerability. Places with high unemployment and under-employment are high-risk areas, where traffickers lure vulnerable people, most of them women and girls. People are making money from the sale of those most economically vulnerable among us. This is business in its most evil form.   Read more

The A to Z of BAM: F to J – from Freedom to Justice

by Mats Tunehag

F – Freedom

Winston Churchill said: “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.

Today tens of millions of people around the world are held as slaves, they are victims of human trafficking. A root cause to is unemployment. About 80 percent of those who are rescued from trafficking are re-trafficked unless they find a job with dignity at the other end. Thus, jobs with dignity and transformational businesses are essential for true freedom. Freedom businesses exist to fight human trafficking, providing jobs for prevention and restoration. [1]

There is no quick fix to human trafficking. There is no ‘jump to freedom’; we have a long journey ahead. As Nelson Mandela said: “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere.” This is true for millions of slaves around the world, and also for the freedom business movement. [2]

Read more

Business as an Agent of Human Flourishing and the Greater Glory of God

by Rod St Hill

It is now three years since the Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation and subsequent publications. During August and September 2020 we will have a series of articles on wealth creation, reflecting on the eleven affirmations in the Wealth Creation Manifesto, which now exists in 17 languages.

Even the simplest one-person or family businesses as most are, especially in poorer countries, unleash the creative capacity in the human person, bringing together various inputs and transforming them into products that contribute positively to human flourishing. Not only do the products contribute to human flourishing, but the processes associated with business create opportunities for the realisation of human dignity.

The purpose of this blog is to reflect and comment upon the seventh and eighth affirmations of the Wealth Creation Manifesto:

7. The purpose of wealth creation through business goes beyond giving generously, although that is to be commended; good business has intrinsic value as a means of material provision and can be an agent of positive transformation in society.
8. Business has a special capacity to create financial wealth, but also has the potential to create different kinds of wealth for many stakeholders, including social, intellectual, physical and spiritual wealth.

I studied economic development at university over 40 years ago. I still recall reading Dudley Seers on ‘The Meaning of Development’. [1] He conceptualised development in terms of ‘realisation of the potential of human personality’. For this, he argued there were a number of necessary conditions, namely:

  • Basic needs – food, clothing, footwear, shelter – must be met
  • A job – defined broadly to include paid and unpaid work like studying, working on the family farm and housekeeping – to satisfy the need for self-respect
  • Other conditions such as good education, freedom of speech, and citizenship of a nation that is truly independent

In the first decade of my academic career I taught development economics. My students were certainly made aware of Seers’ concept. I also introduced my students to Amartya Sen’s work. He rejected the idea of ‘development’ and focused on freedom as the ultimate goal of economic life as well as the most efficient means of realising general welfare. According to Sen, overcoming deprivations (‘unfreedoms’) is central to development. These include hunger, ignorance, an unsustainable economic life, unemployment, barriers to economic fulfilment by women or minorities, premature death, violation of political freedom and basic liberty, threats to environmental sustainability, and poor access to health, sanitation, or safe water. [2]   Read more

How Enterprise Can Fight Slavery: The Freedom Business Alliance

We talked to Jennifer Roemhildt Tunehag about the Freedom Business Alliance initiative and the upcoming Freedom Business Forum.

We are hearing the term Freedom Business being used more and more, what is a ‘Freedom Business’? 

It’s a business that exists to fight human trafficking. There are several types of business that fit into this category:  businesses that create jobs for survivors of exploitation would be the most familiar, but we would also include businesses that hire vulnerable people in order to prevent exploitation, as well as the aggregators who take products from these first two to new markets. A fourth category would be businesses that provide services specifically to and for other freedom businesses (ie., communications, logistics support, etc). Finally, there are businesses who have devoted the profit from their companies to fight trafficking. These are also part of the freedom business ecosystem.

We sometimes call freedom business the ‘backwards business’. In a normal business paradigm, an entrepreneur sees an opportunity to create a product or service that meets a need in the market. By gathering a qualified staff, he sets himself up to make a profit. 

In contrast, a freedom business starts with the group of people it intends to employ. In businesses working to prevent human trafficking and exploitation, those people have been made vulnerable by poverty, lack of education, or other challenging variables. For those in business for restoration, the difficulties are greater.  Their employees have already been victimised, and the resulting trauma creates levels of complexity in life and employment. Read more

Turbocam India: A Stand Against Corruption

The Beginnings

Like many small business stories, the story of Turbocam India involves the spark of opportunity, mixed in with a great deal of perseverance and one or two major breakthroughs that have set the course of the company. But perhaps the most important ingredient of all has been a firmly held belief from its inception that Turbocam was to be a ‘Kingdom company’, existing as a business for the purpose of honouring God.

Turbocam International was founded by Indian Marian Noronha in New Hampshire, USA in 1985. Turbocam’s core business revolves around manufacturing specialised machine parts for turbines and turbochargers, using sophisticated software to machine very high-precision, delicately balanced parts. Right from its earliest days Marian envisioned the company would be used in the service of God. The ideas of creating jobs and generating wealth, supporting Christian service and manufacturing high quality turbo machinery products have all been integral to the mission of the company from the beginning.

An Opportunity

One day in 1984, Marian and his American wife, Suzie, were walking the streets of Bombay and heard singing. They liked what they heard and went in to what turned out to be a small church led by British-born Duncan Watkinson and his Indian wife, Vasanti. Having cross-cultural marriage in common, the couples struck up an immediate friendship that would later lead to business partnership.

In May 1989, Marian invited Duncan to consider using his background in engineering to take on the establishment of Turbocam in India. Marian was looking for an opportunity to expand Turbocam operations outside the USA and into his native India. Coupled with this was a mutual desire to provide greater stability for Duncan and Vasanti’s work amongst churches and helping the poor.

The invitation was accepted and Turbocam India Pvt. Ltd. was established later that year. As Managing Director, Duncan’s role has been to oversee the company operations from his office, originally in Bombay and for the last 13 years in Bangalore. The manufacturing plant, located in Goa, has been from the earliest days overseen by trusted General Manager, Savio Carvalho. Read more

Guidelines for Cross-Cultural Business Ethics

By Larry Sharp

This article is designed to help with decision making for business owners working cross-culturally in developing countries. It recognises that there are few absolute standards which apply to all contexts all the time and thus hopefully these guidelines will assist business owners in making tough decisions on matters related to ethics, corruption, morality, bribery and similar themes.

Some would like to believe that the Bible gives a single definitive perspective for all situations. While this is not true, the Bible does give us principles for decision making, thus in preparing for decisions it is important to understand Biblical absolutes in the light of:

  • Biblical culture
  • Our own culture of socialization
  • Our host culture of doing business

Ethics may be defined as the moral philosophy of knowing the difference between what is right and wrong and acting accordingly. It includes a moral duty and obligation to do good, a statement which seems straightforward but which is complex in light of diverse cultures. Ethics has its root in the Greek word “ethos” which means character; therefore an ethical framework is a systematic set of concepts which provides guidelines for correct behaviour that demonstrates ideal individual and corporate character.

It is important that we treat these guidelines as just that – “guidelines” that are a means to guide our customization in the application of God’s principles to contextual situations in our modern world. Read more