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2023-2024 Impact Report: Ten years of the Freedom Fund

May 1, 2024

I’m still finding it hard to believe the Freedom Fund turned ten years old in January.

I have such fresh memories of flying into London at the start of 2014 to take up my post as the inaugural CEO of this brand-new philanthropic fund. At that stage we had no other staff, no office, our board had not been formally appointed and we had no strategy in place. But we had huge ambitions, and the enthusiastic support of our three founder organisations – Legatum, Walk Free and Humanity United – to turn those ambitions into meaningful change for the tens of million women, men and children in slavery, or at risk of it, around the world.

Fast forward ten years and the Freedom Fund is now working on the ground in 16 countries with high burdens of modern slavery, and helping transform millions of lives.

I won’t set out our many impact numbers here, as you will find them scattered throughout our 2023 Impact Report. But one of the numbers I will highlight is that we have funded and partnered with over 225 frontline organisations in the last decade. These frontline organisations are the building blocks of all sustainable change when it comes to modern slavery. And every time I visit our program countries and spend time with the courageous and dedicated staff of these organisations, I come back inspired by the change they are delivering every single day for the vulnerable communities they serve.

Of the many things I am proud of at the Freedom Fund, foremost among them is how our team and partners have helped redefine the discourse around slavery over the last decade. There has been a seismic shift in that time from a predominant focus on raids, rescues, and prosecutions, to an understanding of the centrality of resilient communities with the power to sustain their own liberation. There has also been normative change in the way anti-slavery organisations use data and research to understand their impact and contribution to change on the ground. That sets us all on the path to deliver even greater change over the next decade.

None of this would have been possible without the vision and unstinting support of our three founders – for which they have our everlasting gratitude. And that gratitude extends to all the funders who have been willing to take a bet on the Freedom Fund and our ambitious vision. We wholeheartedly thank you for that support. Many of those funders have been represented on our board over the years, and I thank all our dedicated board members for their commitment to our common cause.

And finally, I want to thank all my colleagues at the Freedom Fund, past and present. From our modest beginnings, we are a team of 80 in ten countries today. The impact that this team has achieved – in program countries with our frontline partners, and in shaping the anti-slavery space more broadly – is remarkable. It’s a testament to their expertise and commitment. It’s been one of the joys of my life working with them over the last decade to help deliver that change.

And now it’s onwards into the next decade, and ever greater impact!

Photo: Fishing industry in Samut Sakhon, Thailand. Credit: Jittrapon Kaicome / The Freedom Fund

Written by
Nick Grono