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Social Enterprise: A Journey to Emancipated Nonprofits

Living in Vancouver, a favourite pastime is counting the number of cargo ships in the harbour. It’s a symbol of regional prosperity, global connection and a touchstone to a rich nautical heritage. All of which get reappraised when a story breaks about Vancouver being a portal for human trafficking.

My earlier post got me thinking about the limits of social enterprise and the lessons I’ve learned from an emerging social entrepreneur, John Berger.

John and his wife, Sarah, founded The Emancipation Network , TEN, to

help survivors of human trafficking, and women and children at high risk of being trafficked, by offering them a means for self-sufficiency and an economic alternative to further exploitation.

TEN partners with anti-trafficking organizations and women’s craft collectives around the world, including Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, and India. We buy gorgeous and unique handicraft products from our partners, and sell them at home Awareness parties, colleges, and community events across the US. This provides the survivors with economic opportunities as well as raises awareness of this human rights crisis among Americans at the same time.
Sarah leads the nonprofit, and works with the NGO partners, while John builds sustaining revenue.

The Emancipation Network bridges what can be two solitudes, the developed and developing worlds, by using Ambassadors to host Awareness Parties in one and creating sustaining employment opportunities in the other.

In January 2006, John left behind 17 years in the financial services sector to bring business and business development practices to TEN.

Looking at TEN you can see the fingerprints of Seventh Generation, Timberland, as much as Mary Kay.

It’s interesting to witness the symbiotic development of TEN as it navigates business and social issues. If TEN finds the balance it’ll become one of a very few “emancipated nonprofits”.PR