A Business Takeover: Combating the Business of the Sex Trade with Business as Mission
Between 12 and 27 million people globally are currently caught in human trafficking and exploited for their labor or sexual services. To begin combating the monstrosities represented by these numbers, we must recognize that trafficking is an industry and the sex trade is a business. These are economically driven enterprises. We must intentionally and systematically acknowledge the important role of business as a strategy to fight the trade on both a macro and micro level.
Traditionally, businesses have been relegated to participating in anti-trafficking work as the funding source for the work of nonprofits. However, business as mission (BAM) entrusts businesses with much more than simply funding nonprofit work; the business itself becomes the vehicle of change. As such, both nonprofit and for-profit strategies are integral to success in anti-trafficking work.
Business and nonprofit work can come together in anti-trafficking work to focus on job creation, increasing the employability of individuals who have been victimized by human trafficking, and in their subsequent aftercare. Freedom business is a term used to describe enterprises that are involved in such anti-trafficking efforts and care of survivors.
Cultural differences between nonprofit and for-profit entities must be recognized and addressed to enhance working relationships and maximize success. With clear communications, expectations and goals, cultural barriers can be overcome and flourishing partnerships can develop.
Beyond the general best practices of fair trade and BAM, freedom businesses must take extra care when considering the employment of individuals coming from situations of abuse. Extensive training in both technical and soft skills is often required for employer expectations to be met. While having a job with dignity is a major step in the restoration process, aftercare must be intentionally structured into the business so that individuals and communities can heal physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Creating a business that provides for individual needs while at the same time systematically attacking the larger trafficking industry is an overwhelming task for even the most enthusiastic entrepreneurs. There are three main categories of businesses currently working in this space: businesses working for prevention, businesses creating employment for restoration and businesses working in support of field-based freedom businesses. These businesses are growing slowly, but steadily. Few have achieved profitability and most benefit greatly from subsidies of some sort. For true success to be found, freedom businesses must seek (with resolute pursuit) to be profitable, sustainable and scalable while participating in traditional marketplaces both globally and locally.
Freedom businesses are uniquely positioned to strike at the economically driven foundations of the sex trade. By combining the necessary components of economic productivity and holistic ministry, the staggering numbers of people caught in the trade can be reduced through the powerful response of freedom business.