Hi, I'm Adisyn- the founder and CEO of Freeleaf (more on me to come).
Starting a social enterprise definitely hasn't been the easiest thing I've ever done.
So when a few people suggested that I start blogging, my initial response was, "No way! We don't have time for that!" Let's be real: between marketing, accounting, hiring, staff care, office management, product design, fighting for women's rights, living in Asia, finishing a Master's Degree in International Community Development, being a wife, and maintaining some semblance of sanity, blogging was about the last thing on my list to do. Right after cleaning out my pantry.
However, apparently topics like running a social enterprise, women's empowerment, human trafficking, sex work, poverty relief and development are hot-topic issues these days. People are talking about them-- LOTS of people. And while I'm glad that people are talking, I fear that sometimes these voices tend to over-sensationalize or oversimplify the issues in order to click-bait followers and satisfy the masses.
The fact is, we all like simple truth. We like binaries: either/or, black or white, right or wrong, villains or heroes.
The problem is that life doesn't happen in binaries. If there's one thing I've learned through five years of working on women's issues in Asia, it's that issues like development and trafficking and poverty exist in the messy grey area.
For example, sex trafficking rarely looks like the kidnapped daughter we see in movies like Taken. In fact, the vast majority of trafficking happens through much more subtle methods of force, fraud, coercion and abuse of power. While this reality is less sensational, it is every bit as debilitating for the millions of men, women and children affected by trafficking today. By only focusing on sensationalized stories, I fear that we may become blind to reality. It's difficult, if not impossible, to truly address issues when our reality is skewed. In this way, sensationalism and binaries actually sabotage our efforts.
Freeleaf is a social enterprise created to provide employment and holistic care to at-risk, exploited and abused women in Asia. This vision involves deep reflection and responsible action on issues like social enterprise, women's empowerment, poverty relief, human trafficking, sex work and development as a whole.
So we’re blogging because we believe deep reflection and responsible action is essential if we as a global community are ever going to make long-lasting change towards development and women’s empowerment.
We don’t just want to be another voice in the often-distorted conversation. We don’t want to rely on click-baiting or over-sensationalizing. We believe the truth can be “sticky” too. So as we move forward, here a few promises from us to you:
We promise to be a voice that will tell you the reality of our experiences with social enterprise, women's issues and development-- even when that experience is complicated, hard to swallow or messy.
We promise to be a platform where conversation is valued. On issues as polarizing as women’s rights and sex work, part of the problem is that we’re not listening to others. As our Unity Necklace represents, we believe we're stronger together than we could ever be apart.
We promise not to be the doomsday blog. The truth is that Freeleaf is a company of JOY and LIGHT, even as we interface with extreme darkness and depravity. Our office is made up of beautiful, strong women full of hope. We can’t wait to introduce you to some of these women.
On that note, while we are extremely passionate about social enterprise, women’s empowerment and community development, we are also highly enthusiastic about beauty, high quality design and creativity… so we promise to talk plenty about those lighter things as well.