Episode 16: Matthew Friedman | Where Were You? A Profile of Modern Slavery


A note before we begin. Please be advised this episode may be triggering for some listeners. In this episode, there is a conversation about sex trafficking, sexual violence, torture, and rape. Listener discretion is advised.

Hello everyone, and welcome to the Humanitarian Entrepreneur podcast!  My guest today is Matt Friedman.

Matt is a leading, internationally renowned global expert on modern slavery and human trafficking with more than 35 years of experience.  He is the CEO of The Mekong Club, an organization of Hong Kong’s leading businesses which have joined forces to help end all forms of modern slavery.

Mr. Friedman previously worked for USAID and the United Nations in over 40 countries.  He has offered technical advice to numerous governments, banks, and corporations working to eliminate all forms of modern slavery and is the author of 12 books.

In 2017, Matt Friedman received the prestigious Asia Communicator of the Year Gold Award for giving more than 800 presentations to 80,000 people—including government leaders and the Vatican—on the topic of modern slavery within a five-year period in different countries. 

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Matt and are inspired to learn more about how you can make an impact in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking.  

If you were inspired by this episode, please be sure to explore the content in the resource section below to find out more about how you can make a difference.  You can also show your support by leaving us a review wherever you’re listening and by sharing this episode with those you know.  It really helps.


In This Episode:

[02:05] – Matt explains how his work with USAID led him to what he does today. 

[04:41] – The realization of how evil these places were struck Matt after he visited the very brothels he’d heard were buying young girls for sex trafficking.

[05:50] – Matt talks about the differences between forced labor and traditional slavery.

[08:29] – This is how modern slavery impacts us as consumers today. 

[09:52] – How can we become responsible consumers? 

[11:55] – This is why people are still trapped in modern slavery, and Matt answers if this problem will ever be solved.

[13:59] – The Mekong Club works with the private sector to help them understand the problems with human trafficking.

[15:38] – We learn how Matt has been able to get the counter-trafficking community to work together. 

[18:06] – Matt discusses his work in Cambodia. 

[19:14] – The importance of evidence-based evaluations and the distinction that needs to be made in the counter-trafficking sector for trafficking outcomes, according to Matt.

[21:12] – This is what we can do to take a stand against modern slavery.

[23:53] – At this time, Matt anticipates the number of trafficking victims will go up from 40 million to 60 million because of the desperation that exists within the COVID-19 pandemic.

[25:15] – It’s unrealistic to expect someone without experience to jump into the front lines in the fight against human trafficking.  There are plenty of other ways we can volunteer our talents and have a more positive impact.


Website – Humanitarian Entrepreneur

Website – The Mekong Club

Website – Sylvia and Matt Friedman

Book – Where Were You? A Profile Of Modern Slavery

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Individual Coaching


LinkedIn – Matt Friedman
To Join The Free, Humanitarian Entrepreneur Slack Community—Networking, Resources, and Support—Email [email protected]

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