“Waiter – The IOM X Innovations menu please!”

If you enjoy quotes we have a fun challenge for you. Go to your preferred quote-website (Brainy Quotes, Goodreads), type in the word “innovation”, read through the results and try to find a prominent humanitarian amongst its authors. You will be looking for a long time. But why?
The ALNAP Review of Humanitarian Action (RHA), an annual analysis of key trends and issues relating to humanitarian performance, highlights that the development sector’s monitoring and evaluation frameworks don’t capture novel approaches and fresh ideas. Instead, the sector tends to identify the same problems and issues. This is often subject to criticism from professionals both within and outside the development world. But the study also highlights that “this does not mean that the humanitarian endeavour is lacking an innovative spirit”. The motivation to extend assistance to vulnerable individuals affected by crime, conflict or natural calamity has driven individuals to extreme lengths – and led to considerable ingenuity and perseverance.

We at IOM X agree and believe that such ingenuity holds tremendous potential; especially in the fight against human trafficking.

Going against the grain of public perception, we decided to celebrate the role of innovation in development by launching this 5-part blog series on new ideas and innovative practices in counter-trafficking. This series will provide novel examples highlighting the sector’s innovative thinking, how we at IOM X develop new ideas in collaboration with our partners and how we move initiatives from concept to execution.

  “But who is this IOM X to suddenly start talking about innovation?” – you may ask yourself. 

Good question! We will start this blog series by covering a few ideas IOM X is currently working on. Some of them are mere concepts, but others have already seen the light of day and are waiting to be scaled. The common denominator is that we are very excited about all of them and we believe that you should be excited, too. So without further ado, we are introducing our list of innovative counter-trafficking projects: The IOM X Innovations Menu!



As part of our Learn, Act, Share philosophy, IOM X has developed an eLearning platform which allows you to take short, in-depth courses on various topics around the issue of exploitation and human trafficking.

Each course is designed to be fun, interactive and educational. In order to provide learners with a visually visceral learning experience, IOM X uses Lego to illustrate counter-trafficking concepts without having to rely on the negative imagery depicting victimization, bondage and physical violence. An added benefit of using toy figures is that all imagery featured on the portal remain culturally neutral, which would be difficult to accomplish with real-life photography. Each course features a series of interactive quizzes and activities to keep our audience engaged.

You can check it out here: www.iomx.org/learn


6degree.org is one of IOM X’s most successful innovation projects to date.  The new crowdfunding portal was launched by IOM X and Microsoft in 2015 and has since been incubated into its own project. It provides individuals with the opportunity to donate and support the sustainable reintegration of former victims of trafficking and will be used by IOM to support the organization’s assistance programme for survivors of human trafficking.

In 2016, IOM commenced efforts to expand the portal’s front-facing features, its user experience and online presence. 6Degree’s scaling efforts will focus on solidifying its brand awareness to sustainably position the portal as the Internet’s principal online mechanism with which to channel individual financial commitments to trafficking survivors in a safe and secure way.

Visit 6degree.org to check it out.

INNOVATION 3 – Application for Migrant Domestic Worker (RESEARCH STAGE)


In 2015, IOM X started to engage a Fortune 500 tech company to enter  into partnership for the development of a web and mobile based application aimed at empowering female domestic workers. The app will contribute towards preventing their exploitation and/or abuse across the Asia Pacific region. Of the estimated 20.9 million people living in exploitative working conditions globally, 56 percent are from Asia and the Pacific (11,700,000). Southeast Asia is a key sub-region that supplies victims of forced labor to the rest of the world. Many victims, and  especially  those  working  in domestic  service, suffer from a high degree of physical isolation. In some cases, they face confinement when working abroad, which makes them particularly vulnerable to exploitation. We hope to change that.

IOM X is currently conducting research with a wide range former domestic workers, who worked in Singapore and Hong Kong, to inform the application’s minimal viable features on which basis IOM X and its partners will develop a beta-ready prototype.


Do you have a Windows 10 computer, tablet or phone?


Why not check out our IOM X outreach app?


In November 2015 IOM X, along with its partners USAID, the U.S. Embassy Singapore and Microsoft, developed and piloted an outreach application for Microsoft’s Windows 10 mobile and desktop platforms as part of our Connect Singapore event. During the pilot project, university students from National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) set off to busy public areas and used the application to test 100 Singaporeans’ knowledge on the issue. The results from this study can be viewed here:

We are currently working on ways to expand the app’s functionalities including support for other operating systems, such as Mac OS and Android device families.

You can download the app from the Windows Store here.



Leveraging contacts with a private non-for profit university, IOM X is exploring the feasibility of developing an entertaining but educational mobile game, to raise awareness of exploitation of domestic workers in the ASEAN region.

The game’s features will aid to achieve both IOM X’s and 6Degree’s mandates by communicating awareness-raising messaging as a path to win the game whilst supporting individual survivors of human trafficking through an in-app interface with the crowdfunding portal 6degree.org.

This concludes our foray into IOM X’s innovation portfolio. Please don’t hesitate to contact us via www.IOMX.org/contact should you wish to help us develop, scale and/or realise any of the aforementioned projects. We will keep you updated on our progress and ask you to keep it tuned to www.IOMX.org/blog for our our next post in this series, where we will cover our Top 5 innovation initiatives from the counter-trafficking sector.


How to explain human trafficking to your friends and family

Can you imagine having your freedom taken away? Your freedom to move, to choose, to plan your own future? This is the reality for more than 20 million people around the world who are victims of human trafficking.

Most of us are aware that human trafficking exists, and that it is a global problem, but most people don’t know how it happens. Being able to work together to stop human trafficking starts with learning. Here is some information that will help you better understand what human trafficking is and how it usually occurs. This information can also help you have better informed discussions about human trafficking and exploitation with your friends and family.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is when a person is tricked, sold or forced into a coercive, highly exploitative situation against his or her will, with few options to escape.

The human trafficking process

Human trafficking is a process that begins with an act that leads to exploitation. The three elements of the human trafficking process are:

  • The Act: This is WHAT is done to initiate the trafficking process and this includes procedures such as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons who are being trafficked.
  • The Means: This is HOW the act of trafficking is done. The human trafficking perpetrators can either use threat, force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or give payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim being trafficked.
  • The Purpose: This is WHY the act of trafficking is done. There can be many reasons why a victim is  trafficked and these can vary from sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.

It is important to note that if the victim is under the age of 18, it is considered human trafficking even if there was no “Means” of luring the victim into the situation of exploitation. This is because people under the age of 18 are considered to be minors.

Some insightful human trafficking stats

  • There are an estimated 20.9 million people are living as victims of human trafficking globally.
  • 5 million of these are children, and over half of the trafficking victims are in Asia Pacific.
  • The majority of victims are between the ages of 18 to 24.
  • More that 14.8 million people are trafficked within country borders and 6 million are trafficked across international borders.


Why it happens

The demand for cheap labour and cheap services is one of the key drivers of human trafficking and exploitation around the world, and that demand allows traffickers to generate an estimated USD 150 billion every year.

Different forms of human trafficking and exploitation

Human trafficking and exploitation exists in different forms, including forced labour, forced marriage, forced begging, forced sex work and debt bondage. These forms range from children being unlawfully recruited by armed forces to be child soldiers, men, women and children being forced to work in factories, farms, fishing boats and private homes, individuals being forced into sex work against their will, and women and girls being forced into marriage.

Traffickers can also exploit the debt workers owe by inflating it beyond what is humanly possible to pay. This form of exploitation ensures that the victim is forever in debt and their movements and freedom of choice are restricted. In some countries, children, the elderly and those with disabilities are forced to beg by traffickers. The traffickers exploit the age and/or disability of these individuals for financial gains.

What can we do to help stop human trafficking

We can stop human trafficking and exploitation by promoting changes in the way people act. The choices we make about how to migrate and the products and services we pay for can make a difference in how we fight or fuel human trafficking and exploitation. We can also educate our friends and family about the practices and process taken by traffickers in order to build resilient communities. Sharing knowledge about human trafficking can help people to easily identify situations of human trafficking and solicit help for those in danger.

To learn more about human trafficking and exploitation visit the “Learn” section on the IOM X website (IOMX.org/Learn) and take IOM X’s short ‘What is Human Trafficking?’ eLearning course. You can also watch this cool animation, which explains the different forms of human trafficking and exploitation using post-it notes. You can also share the video with friends and family to help increase resilience to human trafficking.