Survivor leaders are at the vanguard of the fight against modern slavery thanks to new trust-based awards.
The Freedom Fund has launched a new $1 million fund with the goal of getting money directly into the hands of organizations led by survivors of modern slavery and trusting them to spend it in the manner they believe would have the greatest impact.
The Survivor Leadership Fund is being piloted in three East African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.
The Survivor Leadership Fund will provide survivor-led organizations with an unlimited US$15,000 grant to spend as they see fit. With a simple application process and limited reporting requirements, the Freedom Fund hopes that this trust-based strategy can provide financing to small, local organizations fighting on the front lines of the battle against modern slavery quickly and efficiently.
The deadline for applications for the US$15,000 grants is October 31, 2021, with a total of US$105,000 available in this initial round.
With more than US$1 million in total available over the next five years, the fund will spread to other regions, including Southeast Asia, South Asia, and South America.
Organizations in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya that have one or more people in leadership positions who have lived experience of exploitation (including human trafficking, forced labor, bonded labor, or forced marriage) are eligible to apply for the first round of awards.
In future rounds, the fund will expand to additional regions, such as Southeast Asia, South Asia, and South America, with the goal of disbursing more than $1 million in total.
“Organisations with survivors of modern slavery in important leadership roles are too few and far between,” said Amy Rahe, the Freedom Fund’s North America Managing Director, who oversaw the initiative’s development. Traditional donors tend to lock out small survivor-led organizations, denying them the cash they need to expand and flourish.
“The Survivor Leadership Fund strives to empower and support survivor-led organizations by allowing them to select how they want to create internal capacity.” We aren’t establishing any rules, conditions, outcomes, or goals. We trust them to put their funding to the greatest possible use in order to fulfill their organization’s goals.”
“We think that this fund can be a game-changer for tiny, survivor-led organizations, paving the way for a new generation of survivor leaders and groups that can truly make a difference,” Meseret Bayou, deputy country representative for the Freedom Fund in Ethiopia, said.
“The work we’re doing in Ethiopia with young girls and women who are likely to migrate relies heavily on nurturing and supporting survivor-led organizations and female leaders. They are more willing to listen to other returnees about the dangers of exploitation, as are Ethiopians who have previously returned from exploitative work in the Middle East. Flexible funding allows survivor-led organizations to make timely decisions about how best to aid, decisions that only individuals on the frontlines and as survivors can make.”
The application procedure, which includes a simple online form and a meeting with a panel of Freedom Fund professionals, tries to be as transparent and inclusive as possible. Grants can be used for everything the organization needs money for, including operations, programming, office payments, and technology expenditures. After six months, the organization is requested to offer simple comments on where the funds went and how they helped the organization achieve its purpose.
“This award places power and leadership where it belongs, with people most affected by modern slavery and leading on the frontlines,” Amy Rahe said. We hope that other funding organizations will be inspired by this concept, and that philanthropists and other contributors would be as enthusiastic as we are about ensuring survivors are at the heart of the worldwide campaign to end slavery.”
The Freedom Fund is a global leader in the fight to abolish modern slavery. They identify and fund the most successful frontline efforts to end modern slavery in the nations and industries where it is most widespread. They fight the mechanisms that allow slavery to endure and prosper by partnering with innovative investors, governments, anti-slavery organizations, and those at danger of exploitation.