Monday, February 15, 2010

YOU CAN HELP: What businesses need to do to help end slavery.

I just finished reading Kevin Bales book, "Ending Slavery." He gives great insight into the background of modern day slavery, what solutions are most effective and specific ways people can help make a difference.

This excerpt talks about slavery in the product chain and what businesses can do about it. He goes into more depth about this in his book and shares the success of chocolate companies using this model to help weed out slavery in cocoa farms along the Ivory Coast and elsewhere.

The Roadblocks
What makes it difficult for businesses to wipe out slavery is they often buy their supplies from a broker, who buys it from a broker, who buys it from a group of farmers, where a small percentage may have slaves. That's why it's essential for businesses to work with other businesses in their field, the government and anti-slavery groups on the ground that can help identify where slavery starts.

Why Boycotting Businesses is NOT Effective
Some might say, "Let's boycott the products." The problem with this blanket approach is that it does more harm than good. This hurts the business, which hurts the brokers, which hurts the group of farmers, of which 95%+ are legitimate farmers on the Ivory Coast struggling to survive. If their farms fail, they can easily be enslaved on slave farms or may become a slave farm themselves to survive.

Because the overhead is so cheap for slave labor, this has been seen to grow the slave cycle instead of breaking it.

That's why it's critical to weed out the small percentage of slavery in the product chain at the root. When businesses and anti-slavery groups work together, instead of bashing each other, this can take place.

You Can Do to Help
If you know of a company with slavery in their product chain, contact the company to make them aware of the problem along with your state legislators and local news. Nothing will get a company motivated to investigate and cleanup their product chain like a little bad PR. This is actually how the chocolate companies started making changes and decided to partner up with government and abolitionist groups.


Everyone I talk to about modern slavery agrees it's atrocious. Then they ask, "What can I do?" BE A VOICE. Spread awareness by sharing these posts and videos with others. Collectively we can reach thousands of people. Creating awareness and making this an issue in the public mind WILL lead to CHANGE.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
~Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Will you accept my invitation? Will you be a voice?

Thank you,
John Burger


  1. Thank you for starting this blog. Maybe we can make a difference.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement Gina. I believe we can make a difference. Love will prevail.

  3. great post.

    interesting & true thoughts from kevin bales. wow...learning to navigate this battle and making the right choices is difficult but oh so worth it.

    looks like a great blog...

    (danielleH on twitter)

  4. Thanks for the comments Danielle.

    We can definitely help companies along by motivating them to investigate their product lines.

    Glad you like the blog and look forward to hearing from you again.