Project Live Free

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Project Live Free: Safe Migration Tools for Female Migrant Workers Vulnerable to Trafficking

New York City, United StatesNepal
Year Founded:
2014
Project Stage:
Idea
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Project Live Free is a non-profit providing low interest loans and an online community of fellow migrant workers to women that are vulnerable to human trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if women could safely migrate for work opportunities without the possibility of being forced into labor or debt bondage?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Migrant workers often do not have financial resources to migrate for work opportunities leading to predatory loans with interest rates exceeding 50% leading to debt bondage and women migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to forced sex labor. Migrant workers often do not have the ability to report these situations due to fear and corrupt legal systems.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Project Live Free provides low interest loans to female migrant workers and develops repayment plans that enable the bulk of their earnings to support their families. Project Live Free establishes a community of female migrant workers where the safety of each women can be ensured and concerns can be reported be phone to the closed group and handled anonymously by Project Live Free staff.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Amba lives in a rural village in Nepal and is enticed by a local recruiter to take a job in a garment factory in India where she will be able to earn money to send home to her family. Because Amba does not have a bank account or any collateral for a bank loan the recruiter offers her a loan to cover her migration fees at a rate of 60%. Amba accepts the opportunity but on arrival in India she finds out that she is being paid much less that she was promised and that her employer has taken away her passport so that she may not leave. Amba works 12 hours every day and nearly all of her wages are paid to the recruiter to repay her loan + interest. Amba can not leave because she is heavily in debt and is not in possession of her passport.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

With Project Live Free, Amba would have been able to receive a low interest loan that would have allowed most of her earnings to go to her family. As part of the loan issuance, the work contract presented by the recruiter would have been scrutinized by Project Live Free to ensure the wages and job promised would be the wages and job received. Amba would not have been lost and trapped in India as she would have joined the community of other female migrant workers accessed by phone and been able to report the 12 hours a day she was working. Project Live Free would have investigated the situation and through international legal channels and NGOs worked to stop this instance of modern day slavery and worked to prevent other women enrolled with Project Live Free from ending up in this situation.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Project Live Free will pilot in Nepal where many women seek work opportunities as factory workers or domestic helpers in India, Bangladesh, Israel, Qatar, and the UAE. The pilot will start with 10 women and expand as grant money is received. After a successful pilot Project Live Free will research expansion potential in other vulnerable locations including South Asia and Africa. As initial loans are repaid Project Live Free will use the loan repayments to make new loans to more women.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The pilot project has been successfully funded by individuals. To expand the operations Project Live Free will seek grants as well as donations by businesses involved in the global supply chain seeking to improve Fair Labor conditions.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many organizations that provide low interest loans to women seeking to start a business, however, there is not a specific utility for women seeking to safely migrate for work. Some countries and NGOs offer a hotline to report instances of human trafficking but these hotlines are typically broad and do not focus within a community of women migrant workers to ensure the safely of the worker and her family as well as ensure that "lessons" can be learned from each report to reduce the risk for future migrant workers.
Team

Founding Story

Erin is currently studying for a Masters degree in International Law in South Africa. The dissertation component of this degree brought Erin to Nepal to research how corruption can lead to human trafficking within global supply chains. It is during this research that Erin learned of the great need to low interest loans for migrant workers due to the huge risk of debt bondage. It also because apparent how many workers become lost and stuck within their situations because of fear and embarrassment and a lack of a safe community of fellow workers.

Team

Erin Plante - Founder and Program Director, drive overall program strategy and financial viability Panna Lampert - Nepal Program Director, coordinate on the ground work in Nepal Sy Shan - Technology Developer, develop website and tools for the migrant worker community In addition, Project Live Free would like to hire case workers that will work within both the sending and receiving countries for migrant workers.
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