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.  

Jobs as an Antidote

Job creation in the poorest regions is needed, but not only as a preventative measure. It turns out that jobs are also one of the most vital pieces in the recovery and reintegration of survivors of human trafficking as well. If poverty and lack of skills makes someone vulnerable to trafficking, how much more vulnerable is someone with the same lack of education and skills who is also coping with trauma experienced at the hands of a former employer?

Survivors don’t just need a job—they need a job in a workplace uniquely suited to building their skills and helping them heal in a supportive community of trauma-informed leaders and colleagues. By combining the vital components of economic opportunity and holistic employee development, Freedom Businesses provide the missing piece in a comprehensive solution to human trafficking. If human trafficking is business gone bad, this is its antidote.

The Growth of Redemptive Entrepreneurship

But the work is not easy. While traditional businesses typically seek to hire the best and brightest, Freedom Businesses hire the traumatized and uneducated. Thus, they intentionally create opportunities for those who require developmental strategies such as holistic aftercare, comprehensive training and ongoing development. This puts a unique strain on these businesses, requiring innovative business models to achieve sustainability, let alone profitability. They go beyond models free from exploitation, even beyond a high standard of workplace ethics, into models that, to use a term coined by Praxis Labs, are a prime example of redemptive entrepreneurship.

Over the past decade, Freedom Businesses around the world have sprung up as a grassroots response to the tragic cycle of re-exploitation in anti-trafficking interventions, often founded by leaders who witnessed the issues firsthand and decided to take action. These businesses are growing slowly and steadily, but still vastly out of proportion to the need. They require resources and partnerships to grow and scale.

Freedom Business Alliance

Freedom Business Alliance is a global network of over 100 of these businesses operating in more than 30 countries around the world, an industry facilitator for these businesses uniquely positioned to undermine the economically-driven foundations of human trafficking.

Learn more about the Freedom Business Alliance and how business is being used as a force for good in the fight against human trafficking in their 2022 IMPACT Report. 


This article originally appeared on the G20 Interfaith Forum blog


>>Read all published Blogs on The BAM Review on Freedom Business

Rachel Rose Nelson serves as Global Ambassador for the Freedom Business Alliance, and previously was the Executive Director. FBA is a global network creating business solutions to human trafficking and has 115 member businesses across 30+ countries. They are on a mission to scale the Freedom Business movement in order to create 100,000 jobs for survivors of human trafficking and those at risk of being trafficked. 





Click to Open Report





¹ Annan, Kofi. “Address At The Opening Of The Signing Conference.” The United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. Dec. 12, 2000.

² International Labor Office. “50 Million People Worldwide in Modern Slavery” Available at:–en/index.htm

³ International Labor Office. “Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour.” 2014. Available at—ed_norm/—declaration/documents/publication/wcms_243391.pdf