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Our Story

The Freedom Fund’s journey

Looking back, there is a lot for the Freedom Fund to be proud of. Our hotspot programs have had a direct impact on over 1,473,000 people, and liberated over 30,700 victims from slavery. We now support over 140 frontline anti-slavery organisations in nine global hotspots. Our impact and the research we have supported is increasingly being recognised internationally. We have a long way to go, but it is worth reflecting on how far we have come…


May: The Freedom Fund launches the a program to reduce trafficking of child domestic workers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and reduce trafficking of Ethiopians migrating to the Middle East as domestic workers. The program was funded by the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons under their Program to End Modern Slavery.

June: The Freedom Fund received a transformative gift of $35 million from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett.

July: The Freedom Fund and our partners reached more than one million people living in slavery or at high risk of exploitation

September: The Freedom Fund launches the Survivor Leadership Fund, a trust-based fund that aims to get money directly into the hands of organisations led by survivors of modern slavery.

October: The Freedom Fund launches the Tariff Act Legal Fund designed to curb forced labour in global supply chains.

By year-end: The Freedom Fund is partnering with over 140 frontline partners in nine global hotspots. The number of lives directly impacted by the Freedom Fund is over 1,282,700.


February: Work begins in the Brazil hotspot, aimed at combating the sexual exploitation of children.

April: As the devastating impact of the covid-19 pandemic became clear, the Freedom Fund moves quickly to set up an emergency response fund that mobilised $2m for immediate funding to frontline partners working with highly vulnerable communities.

September: The covid emergency response fund supports our frontline partners in India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Ethiopia and Brazil – directly supported some 230,000 vulnerable individuals, with hundreds of thousands more benefitting indirectly.

December: The Freedom Fund launches Freedom Rising, building a powerful and representative anti-slavery movement led by women and survivors.


January: The Freedom Fund begins planning for new hotspots in Myanmar, focused on reducing the number of women and girls trafficked into China for forced marriage, and in Brazil to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

May: The Freedom Fund’s three founders – Minderoo Foundation’s Walk Free initiative, Legatum Foundation and Humanity United – commit a further $16m to our mission to end modern slavery.

September: Multiple independent evaluations find Freedom Fund’s labour interventions stop abuses, protect workers and change structural conditions to keep families out of bonded labour in northern and southern India.

August: The Cassiopeia Foundation, a private philanthropic fund, joins the Freedom Fund’s community of investors as its newest anchor donor.

October: The Freedom Fund is awarded a grant by the U.S. State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons under the Program to End Modern Slavery for research on responsible recruitment of low-skilled migrant workers in Ethiopia.

By year-end: The Freedom Fund is partnering with 155 organisations in eight global hotspots. The number of lives directly impacted by the Freedom Fund is over 860,000.


January: Set-up phase for new hotspot to combat child labour in Jaipur gets underway, funded by CIFF, Laudes Foundation and British Asian Trust.

September: The Freedom Fund receives the first commitment to launch the inception phase of a Myanmar hotspot focused on reducing the number of women and girls trafficked into China for forced marriage and childbearing.

May: The Freedom Fund explores creating a leadership program, Freedom Rising, to support a new generation of frontline anti-slavery practitioners, especially women and survivors.

October: Freedom Fund staff complement rises to 45 as Geneva Global transition nears completion.

November: The Freedom Fund convenes key donors to share and learn from efforts to address modern slavery in supply chains.

December: The Freedom Fund reaches another important milestone, liberating our 20,000th individual from slavery.

By year-end: The number of lives directly impacted by the Freedom Fund is over 500,000.


January – June: The Freedom Fund partners with the UK Home Office for India and UBS Optimus Foundation for central Nepal.

January: Freedom Fund frontline partners in northern India (Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) achieve unprecedented legal successes, recording 13 convictions of traffickers.

March: Landmark victory as Thai court sentences six defendants to 14 years in prison for trafficking migrant workers; Freedom Fund partner Human Rights and Development Foundation represents plaintiffs.

August: After over three years of successful partnership with Geneva Global, the Freedom Fund begins the transition process to bring hotspot grant management in-house.

September: The Freedom Fund convenes frontline leaders to coordinate action on modern slavery as part of the International Labour Organization’s Alliance 8.7 initiative.

December: The Freedom Fund is partnering with 122 organisations in seven hotspots.

By year-end: The number of lives directly impacted by the Freedom Fund is over 390,000.


January: Harvard University study shows impact of community-based prevention model in India.

April: Following investigations and advocacy by Freedom Fund partner Environmental Justice Foundation, the European Union extends a formal “yellow card” warning of possible sanctions on Thailand’s seafood industry.

September: The Freedom Fund steps up engagement with U.S. and UK governments, and Nick Grono meets UK PM Theresa May as she calls modern slavery “greatest human rights challenge of our time”.

November: After joining a Freedom Fund delegation to the Philippines, Ethiopian officials and hotspot partners issue a joint plan to promote safer migration.

December: The Freedom Fund and Legatum Institute host a convening of global anti-slavery leaders opened by the UK Secretary of State for International Development and the Minister for Home Affairs.

By year-end: The number of lives directly impacted by the Freedom Fund is over 280,000. The Freedom Fund reaches an important milestone, as the number of victims liberated exceeds 10,000.


January The Freedom Fund begins planning for new programs in Thailand on forced labour in seafood industry; and in Tamil Nadu to end abuse of teenage girls in garment sector, funded by Laudes Foundation.

May: The Freedom Fund and the Human Trafficking Legal Center convene leading international litigators and funders in London for two-day event on strategic litigation.

July: Children’s Investment Fund Foundation becomes the Freedom Fund’s fifth anchor donor.

July – August: Four new hotspots launch – in Ethiopia, Kathmandu, Thailand and Tamil Nadu.

September: The Freedom Fund and the Helen Bamber Foundation publish study surveying existing knowledge on treatment of mental trauma.

December: The Freedom Fund and UN University launch report in New York on how UN can work more effectively to end slavery. Nick Grono speaks at first Security Council debate on human trafficking.

By year-end: The number of lives directly impacted by the Freedom Fund is over 150,000.


January: Nick Grono commences as CEO of the Freedom Fund.

July: Formal launch of first hotspot program to combat bonded labour in northern India.

November: Second hotspot launched in south-eastern Nepal to end slavery of 100,000 Harawa-Charawa labourers.

December: The Stardust Fund joins as a new anchor donor.

By year-end: Six staff recruited and offices established in London and New York.


September: Humanity United, Legatum and Walk Free announce the creation of the Freedom Fund.