A charity which encourages survivors of trafficking, conflict and other forms of violence to rebuild their lives by becoming entrepreneurs is launching its first ever crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise money for future training.
Established ten years, Her Equality Rights Autonomy (HERA), which was co-founded by Lynellyn Long PhD, provides women with learning and development skills, so they can achieve their own career aspirations, whether that is completing their education, securing their ideal job or starting their own venture.
Long, who is also the Chairwoman of the charity told Training Journal: “HERA reintegrates survivors back into the economy by focusing on stopping trafficking. We also give women grants up to €700 to help them buy a computer or register the business. The trafficking numbers have increased, so when women go back to work the grant prevents vulnerable women from being trafficked again and offers them an alternative.”
The charity hopes to raise £25,000 through it’s crowdfunding campaign to secure finances for future student. For example £100 will cover the travel costs for one student allowing them to attend the summer course at Imperial College Business School. £1000 you’ll fund one student through the entire year long course and provide some additional support for transport or 200 hours of mentoring.
There are an estimated 35.8 million people enslaved in the world. Human trafficking creates approximately $150 billion in illegal revenue annually. Approximately 80 per cent of victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation, with 19 per cent trafficked for labour exploitation.
Survivors are at risk of being marginalised, forced to remain on social entitlements, and even re-trafficked. The women who originate from Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa and aged between 17-40, are more likely to be discriminated against when returning to the workforce or formal education.
Since 2008, HERA has provided annual entrepreneurship training and mentoring for UK-based survivors at Imperial College Business School to over 183 trafficked, refugee, and other young women survivors of violence.
Long added: “Entrepreneurship is their way out as many have holes on their CV, so they need critical skills in order to succeed in the job market. We teach them by asking them three things. 1)What is your concept and ambition, 2) How do you finance it, so they are able to budget and save and 3) how do you plan on marketing it to get customers?”
“Our statistics show that 85 per cent are in a job, higher education or have started a business venture, such as catering, fashion and cleaning. Some women haven’t got a choice and have to start their own business to get into the job market.”
Over the past decade, more than 220 people have mentored HERA students in the UK, giving the women the skills they need to realise their dreams and escape the stigma of trafficking.
Former participant Silvia praised the charity for giving her the confidence and on-going support to achieve financial and economic autonomy.
She said: “A big thank you to HERA for giving me a chance to do the course. I found the course very exciting, fascinating and motivating indeed. The highlight when doing the course was listening to the various speakers brought by the HERA team.
“This opened my mind and I learned more about the skills needed to start a business. The HERA course encouraged me and gave me a kick-start to rebuild my life. I decided to go and chase my childhood dream to be a lawyer.
She added: “I have just obtained my law degree and I’m looking forward to start a Legal Practice course in September 2014. I am also looking for a training contract at present. I have faced a lot of challenges along the way but I‘m going to continue holding on…reach my goal and be a successful lawyer one day.”