Skip to main content

Kacharagadla Featured Article

5 Ways to Validate a Business Idea, Right Now

Don't let your day job or lack of capital stop you from finding and testing a business idea. Here's how.
Last year, I embarked upon a personal challenge to validate a business idea in 30 days. To make it even more difficult, it was a random idea chosen by my readers. They asked me to do it without using my existing website, traffic and business connections and without spending more than 20 hours per week on the project. On top of that, I limited myself to spending no more than $500 validating this idea. The experiment was a success.In just two weeks, I built an email list of 565 subscribers without having an actual website. Then, I reached out to a handful of those subscribers and pre-sold 12 copies of a book that didn't even exist yet, all in less than 30 days. I wrote about the experiment in real-time with in-depth weekly updates, successes, failures and lessons learned along the way, right here in my validation challenge. Today, I want to share with you the five most effect…

Tackling Asia's Human Trafficking With Facebook, WhatsApp And LINE

On August 11, IOM X, the outreach arm of the International Organization for Migration, received a Facebook message from a 26 year-old Cambodian man. He was at an internet cafe in the Marshall Islands, where his fishing vessel had stopped.
The man was a victim of trafficking and finding that his Cambodian recruitment firm would not let him leave without a payment of $4,000, he turned to IOM X for help. They were quickly able to put him in touch with anti-trafficking groups in the Marshall Islands and he was later rescued, and returned to Cambodia.
This photo taken on September 1, 2011 shows a migrant laborer sitting on a Thai fishing boat in Sattahip, Thailand’s Rayong province. Thousands of men from Myanmar and Cambodia set sail on Thai fishing boats every day, but many are unwilling seafarers — slaves forced to work in brutal conditions under threat of death. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
While it sounds like a relatively simple story, IOM X says it would have been much more challenging as recently as a few years ago. “Because he messaged us on Facebook, we immediately could connect him with contacts in Marshall Islands and Cambodia. Had he just called us it would have been a lot more complicated,” says Mia Barett, IOM XCommunication and PR Officer. 
This story might be a success/Cinderella story for the trafficking world, but there are a few factors to consider for how the internet and social media are fighting trafficking. (They are also a major source of recruitment but that will be discussed in another post.) 
One of the most obvious differences is speed: a few years ago the Cambodian man would have had to call IOM X long distance in Bangkok to get help, and finding their number on the Marshall Islands would have been almost impossible. On Facebook he got instant help.
Barrett says that frontline organizations working with victims of trafficking are seeing their work increasingly move to social media.
“Facebook, WhatsApp, and LINE have been really powerful tools for frontline service providers to tap into [migrant] networks. When we talk to organizations that are actively working with populations most vulnerable to trafficking, they are saying the best way to communicate information to everyone really widely is through social media,” she says
“They are also increasingly receiving requests for help and assistance online. There used to be a telephone help line, but now it’s done primarily through messages via Facebook.”
Even as recently as a few years ago this might not have been possible. Consider that Facebook only started twelve years ago in 2004 and it wasn’t opened up to global users until 2006. LINE, which is massively popular in trafficking hotbed Thailand, was only released in 2011 while WhatsApp, used in Hong Kong, was released in 2010.
As a final note, social media can also make use of photographs, which can often speak for themselves in engaging activism and assistance. One of the most famous cases is Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian domestic worker abused by her employer in Hong Kong.She was famously photographed in 2014 by a fellow Indonesian worker at Hong Kong International Airport where her employer was sending her home.
The photograph of the battered Erwiana spread across social media and triggered a reaction in Hong Kong and later international media might have been impossible years earlier.

I cover the internet in Southeast Asia.