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Binance Charity: How Blockchain Technology Can Help Combat Modern Slavery

2021-11-10

According to the Global Slavery Index, over 40 million people are living in slavery today; 24.9 Million people are enslaved through forced marriage and 15.4 Million people through forced labor. Consequently, women are disproportionately affected by slavery than men accounting for over 70% of the victims.

The vast majority of people who end up in modern-day slavery are usually tricked and exploited, often as a result of poverty and exclusion. These are vulnerable people, unbanked and have little to no financial freedom and therefore no freedom at all. Unregulated and unaccountable supply chains are a root cause of modern-day slavery. From clothes, to coffee, to tech parts to diamonds to fish to rubber - almost every commodity is implicated in exploiting people for cheap labour to meet our consumer culture’s demand for cheap products. 

Modern-day slavery is a hidden, yet global issue. Every single country in the world harbors slaves and/or contributes directly or indirectly to the issue.

What does blockchain have to do with this?

We know blockchain is a powerful tool that can be used to help advance some of the most challenging social issues of our time. This is already happening in many forms. 

For example, we’re working with Mercy Corps to set up mini economies within refugee camps, allowing vulnerable people to take back control and become financially independent. What if we could scale up this work and set up individual crypto wallets, targeting women who are most at risk of being exploited and providing them with an alternative way of receiving funds to live? 

On this note, high remittance rates are one of the greatest barriers that cryptocurrencies are working to break down. For years, Africa and Asia (as well as other parts of the world) have been subjected to high transfer rates, with diaspora paying the price of sending money to loved ones.  

Aside from financial independence, industries are already exploring using blockchain to create transparent supply chains. What if this became the rule not the exception? Consumers could take control and ensure the products they’re purchasing are from ethical sources, practising fair trading standards. Every transaction, every step would be completely accountable and irrefutable. Corporations could no longer hide behind ignorance and corrupt supply chains.  

Emerging technologies are also opening up opportunities for cross industry collaborations and allowing a lower entry barrier into professions in such industries. Take for example NFTs, now anyone with access to a computer can become an NFT artist and generate an income from their creativity.  While we recognise access to computers is still severely limited in many countries, for those with access, trends such as NFTs are giving the power back to the creator and by working on a royalty basis, visual artists now have the platform to earn in a more similar manner to that of the music industry.

NFTs, metaverse and GameFi are also providing the charity sector a much needed revamp.  Major nonprofits such as Save the Children, The Water Project, UNICEF and the Redcross now all accept donations in crypto. NFTs, crypto and Metaverse gaming are opening up new and lucrative fundraising opportunities to a wider, more diverse audience. 

Just today, we’re celebrating the launch of the first joint African artist NFT series from  two-time Academy Award-nominated actor and humanitarian, Djimon Hounsou and human rights lawyer,  activist and  artist Láolú - who's collaborated with many artists including the likes of Beyoncé. 

Their exclusive artwork series “TIME TO HEAL” will be sold in a premium auction on the Binance NFT Marketplace between November 10 and 15, 2021.  A percentage of proceeds will be given to the  Djimon Hounsou Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to reconnect the African Diaspora with the motherland and fight modern-day slavery & human trafficking. This pioneering collaboration also aims to ignite conversations on how NFTs will change the digital art space for creators of African descent and how blockchain companies can support Africans artists more. We are confident that this fundraising and awareness campaign is just the beginning of our work with the Djimon Hounsou Foundation as we explore ways of tackling these issues together. 

Of course, blockchain and crypto is not a silver bullet to solve poverty, close the inequailty gap and thus, help to erradicate modern-day slavery. It is just one of many solutions that need a holistic approach and  must be underpinned by education. But, if harnessed properly, it can be an invaluable resource to help combat grave human rights abuses. We can apply it to eradicate corruption, promote financial freedom, revoluntise supply chains, open entry points into careers previously considered out of reach and provide new, fresh fundraising opportunities.