03 December 2014

Rise of the Corporate by Guest Blogger Diane Wilkinson

Our latest GUEST BLOG from Diane Wilkinson, National Freedom Network, South Africa

Rise of the Corporate

As a South African network of actors and stakeholders, we have seen all sorts of people emerge with a desire to somehow get involved in counter-human trafficking. These include individuals and organizations who want to spread awareness, social clubs, church ministries who reach out to those working in prostitution and strip clubs (we even have a team working with pimps, some of whom have been trafficked themselves), government representatives, supporters of existing programs and volunteers who naively wish to ‘break down brothel doors and rescue girls’.

This year, though, has seen the rise of another role player in South Africa. All of a sudden, as if on some silent cue, there has been a burst of interest from corporate actors wanting to know more about the issue and how they can get involved - beyond just handing over a nice big cheque.

LexisNexis were, to our knowledge, the first corporate actor to really step up to the challenge in South Africa and take counter-trafficking on as their Corporate Social Investment initiative, setting the standard high for corporate involvement. A bold step, but over the past few years they have been amazing not only with raising funds for their designated Anti Human Trafficking Fund to help support various network partners across South Africa, but also by using their position to make available human trafficking information, including creating their Human Trafficking Awareness Index (http://www.lexisnexis.co.za/pdf/LexisNexis-Human-Trafficking-Index.pdf). What followed was a succession of corporate actors following the example set by LexisNexis and offering their own unique and valuable support.

Nielsen Cares (the social responsibility team of Nielsen SA) sponsored a set of our Story Board banners that showcase local South African stories of human trafficking, which we were then able to donate to the Kwa-Zulu Natal network for use by partners in their awareness events and campaigns. It’s wonderful to be able to use local resources with real “homegrown” stories to show that this is not just an issue happening ‘out there’ in Eastern Europe and South East Asia, but also right here in South Africa.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation generously offered free legal advice to any of the registered NGOs in the network, and they also hosted a live streaming of London’s annual Trust Women conference (focusing on female economic empowerment and anti-human trafficking) here in Johannesburg, which network partners were able to attend for free.

Production company MoviWorld created a 60 second PSA for us and one of our network partners that is now available for all network partners to use across South Africa. Trigger warning for survivors: you can watch Ruby’s Story here. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRGLfXoEZoQ )

The latest offering has come from advertising company Ad OutPost, who have offered us billboards and other outdoor media space to create awareness.

For us here in South Africa, these initiatives represent a big step forward and we are grateful to each of these companies for caring, sharing and supporting the cause.

Diane Wilkinson
Network Coordinator & Gauteng Provincial Networker
National Freedom Network
Operations Manager
Project Tshireletso