Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Private Sector-NGO Cooperation to Combat Human Trafficking in Ukraine

On June 18, representatives from the nongovernmental, international and private sectors gathered in Kyiv to discuss building private sector and NGO partnership to combat human trafficking in Ukraine at a conference sponsored by the International Organization Mission to Ukraine and USAID.

From the IOM press release:

"IOM Ukraine, in tandem with its network of Ukrainian NGOs dedicated to eradicating the evil of human trafficking, have begun to enlist the assistance of the private sector to build the sustainability of counter-trafficking initiatives in Ukraine. Key speakers at the conference will include representatives of Ukrainian and international companies who have demonstrated corporate social responsibility and an unmistakable willingness to collaborate with IOM on anti-trafficking campaigns and projects."

Over 60 participants from Ukrainian NGOs, the private sector and international organizations took part in the panel discussions and the interactive sessions aimed at finding common ground between private sector businesses and non-governmental organizations working to combat trafficking. The panelists came from major companies already doing socially responsible work as well as NGO directors who have had some success bringing in private donors.

Here are the profiles and presentation summaries of some of the companies and organizations that provided speakers for the conference:


Galnaftogaz is a Ukrainian fuel retail company with filling stations all over the country. The company recently took part in an information campaign that posted large billboards at entry and exit points on Ukraine's borders warning about the dangers of trafficking with hotline numbers. The stated objectives of the campaign were to 1.) provide Ukrainians going abroad with safe migration information, 2.) inform Ukrainians returning to their home country about the National Counter-Trafficking hotline and 3.) to raise public awareness on the issue of human trafficking. According to the company, they choose to cooperate in combating trafficking because, "Everyday we indirectly face consequences of this problem: our filling stations service buses with potential migrants, relatives of our employees can be victims of this problem, etc."

Their approach: Create new workplaces, offer quality business education, reassure citizens that it is worth staying in Ukraine to work, and warn people about the possible problems of leaving the country for uncertain work.

Microsoft Ukraine

Microsoft runs multiple community partnership programs that provide skills training and technology as well as initiating the Coalition for Child Safety Online to help combat cyber crimes affecting children. The Unlimited Potential - Community Technology Skills Program has multiple components. Two that directly affect the fight against human trafficking include the "Learn IT to Find a Job" program, which works with local State Employment Centers and NGOs to provide access to technology skills training to job-seekers (thus lowering the prospects of deciding to leave for work abroad by providing attractive job skills), and the "Information Dissemination and Equal Access" or IDEA project, which was launched in collaboration with Project Harmony International. IDEA Centers offer free monthly training and internet access to centers that provide skills classes to vulnerable groups. Seven centers have been established across the country, and many of these offer training to victims of trafficking.


Kyivstar is one of Ukraine's largest telecommunications companies and a national mobile operator. The company was recently honored by the IOM for their work with anti-trafficking initiatives. Kyivstar joined together with two other mobile operators to establish a toll-free number "527," which, when dialed, routes the call to a hotline with operators who provide advice and warnings regarding finding work abroad. These operators are also trained to identify and assist people who were exploited while abroad.

Western Union

In 2008, Western Union, which offers financial services and money transfer operations, cooperated with the International Organization for Migration's campaign to raise awareness on the trafficking issue in Ukraine. Brochures are available at over 350 locations of the Ukrainian Financial Group with Western Union Money Transfer services, and a new initiative concerning reintegration assistance to victims of trafficking is about to be launched. The company commits to corporate citizenship in order "to facilitate global economic empowerment and help families stay connected, overcome barriers and realize their dreams.


Every day, ADECCO helps over 700,000 labor migrants to find work through the netwrok of more than 37,000 employees and over 7,000 branch offices in more than 60 countries and territories. The company provides language training as well as integration assistance for people with various levels of experience and matches them with employers who are looking for people with a certain set of skills. The placement process takes about 3 to 5 months on average.

Brainstorming and NGO presentation

One of the NGO leaders that spoke was also a participant in my recent case study project. Elvira Mruchkovska of Suchasnyk in Chernivtsi. The organization conducts programs that help former victims develop business skills, as well as gain support for entrepreneurship projects. There was a also a project recently that helped support female victims through manufacturing crafts and promoting them in Ukraine and abroad.

The event ended with a few brainstorming sessions where NGOs and private sector participants spoke together about how NGOs can approach businesses to help support their activities including understanding business motivations, doing research on the goals of companies to identify ways to approach them with mutual benefits involved in the project, coming up with creative ideas for projects that target businesses would support, being able to explain the advantages of the organization's work to businesses, among many other ideas.

*All photos were taken by the IOM.

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