Leonardo Sakamoto

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Leonardo Sakamoto was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Leonardo recontextualizes the issue of slave labour, taking it out of the realm of the historical anti-slave movement and aligning it with modern-day worker’s rights in the agrarian expansion in Brazil. In doing so, he has hit upon an effective strategy: Approaching the problem at the market level—he has managed to engage the private sector in mapping the chain of products from farms known to practice slave labour (the names appear on a “laundry list” published by the Federal Government). As a result of his “mapping”, more than 160 large companies, national and international, are working to cancel their contracts with these suppliers, and signed the National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labour.
Leonardo believes the issue of slave labour is part of the labour and human rights movement. Since discourse related to slave labour is degrading, he has leveraged this to focus his strategies on communication and education. He has produced research, published reports, and collected data on the subject which has allowed him to disseminate information about slave labour and other critically related issues, such as deforestation, land reform, and the development of biofuel. In addition, he has developed capacity-building courses for teachers, adult literacy, and local community leaders in regions where there is a high incidence of slave worker enticement.
These strategies are the foundation of the organization Reporter Brazil, which informs and alerts Brazilian society, industry, and the consumer market about the existence of slave labour, its broader causes, and impacts. Today, Reporter Brazil is an essential reference for the media and national and international labour rights organs. Leonardo is replicating his work in other Latin American countries and works with the Congress and Federal Government preparing legislation related to labour crimes.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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