David Batstone, founder of Not For Sale — a nonprofit with a mission to put an end to human trafficking and modern slavery — will be accepting the “Peace Award” from the United Nations later this week.
The El Granada resident and University of San Francisco professor will receive the award at the U.N. headquarters in New York City on Friday. The ceremony takes place during the week of International Women’s Day, which is celebrated today.
While teaching business and entrepreneurship courses at the university in 2000, Batstone was appalled to read a San Francisco Chronicle article that revealed that the owner of a restaurant he frequented in Berkeley was arrested on charges of human trafficking.
“I was so shocked,” Batstone told the Review on Monday. “I’d been going to this restaurant for some time.”
The article stirred up a “burning passion to understand” more about human trafficking, said Batstone.
In 2005, he took a year off from teaching and traveled the world. From San Francisco to Bangalore to Los Angeles and beyond — Batstone witnessed multiple instances of human trafficking and slavery.
“I learned 30 million people are living in slavery around the world,” Batstone said. “It’s so prolific and stretched from my own backyard to everywhere around the world.”
From there, Batstone decided to write a book on the topic to shed some light on the issue. In 2007, he published “Not For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade — and How We Can Fight It” and became so emotionally invested in the issue that he decided to take action.
He built a village in Northern Thailand to provide a safe space for children forced into prostitution and begging, and that’s where Not For Sale truly got its start, Batstone says.
Since then Batstone has set up shelters and services for people who were being enslaved in Romania, Peru, Vietnam, Holland, Uganda and San Francisco — to name a few.
The professor takes advantage of a Tuesday-Wednesday teaching schedule to budget in trips through the rest of the week.
Batstone says the organization has rescued 4,000 people last year alone, a number that grows with each year.
To fund the work, Batstone falls back on his entrepreneurial skills. He used to run a Not For Sale store at Harbor Village. The store has since been relocated to the Dogpatch neighborhood in San Francisco.
He has also created a few product lines such as Rebbl juice products and Z Shoes, which are carried by other stores, such as New Leaf Community Market and Whole Foods Market.
Batstone said he was surprised and honored when the United Nations contacted him to say he had been selected to receive the 2017 Peace Award.
But rather than leave it at that, Batstone says he asked the organization if it would be interested in partnering with Not For Sale to work on empowering 25,000 women to become entrepreneurs by 2025. The U.N. reportedly agreed to the partnership. Batstone says he believes encouraging more women entrepreneurs could be a long-term solution for reducing the number of people at risk from human trafficking.