Combating modern-day slavery through economic empowerment

From Right-Left (1st Row): Michelle Pabalan (MVF Communications Head); Bam Aquino (MVF President & Hapinoy Co-Founder), Cecilia Flores-Oebanda (VF Founding President & CEO), Vio Montano (VF Center for Social Partnerships Head). (2nd Row): Jover Larion (VF Social Partnership Officer) and VF Nanay Leaders of Pandacan

Economic empowerment and human trafficking prevention are two unlikely missions that go side by side – or are they?

For almost five years, we’ve have been working with women micro entrepreneurs towards the growth of their sari-sari stores and their personal development as entrepreneurs. Most recently, we’ve taken a step forward by partnering with Visayan Forum Foundation Inc. (VF), an internationally-recognized NGO, to work together and come up with new, innovative solutions for the socially and economically challenged in the Philippines.

VF is a Philippine-based NGO that works for the empowerment of vulnerable migrants, particularly victims of human trafficking, domestic servitude and other forms of exploitation, through building social movements and advocating for policies and delivering of services.

The Hapinoy Program will be implemented in the VF communities of Paco-Pandacan in Manila and Bacolod City in Negros Occidental. The parent leaders of VF’s Bantay-Bata sa Komunidad (BBK) are the target beneficiaries of the program. Together, we aim to empower these communities and work towards combating modern-day slavery.

We at Hapinoy are more than excited with our partnership with VF and are hopeful that by nurturing, developing and supporting micro-businesses in poor communities, the Hapinoy Program can be a significant deterrent in human trafficking.

Training these sari-sari storeowners and assisting them in working towards developing a sustainable business is a strategy we believe will help alleviate poverty. Additionally, with our partnership with VF, human trafficking through economic empowerment becomes a powerful intervention force.

Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, Founding President and CEO of VF, sees this partnership as an innovative strategy that addresses the major gap of preventing human trafficking by providing viable alternatives and economic empowerment to vulnerable communities.

We hope to partner with more like-minded groups in our mission to create greater opportunities for more Filipinos.

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