Nina Smith is the founding CEO of GoodWeave International. Since 1999, she has developed and led its operations that, include standard-setting and product certification programs; its programs for inspecting and monitoring informal supply chains; its market engagement; the removal and rehabilitation of child laborers; and a range of worker-protection programs. The organization now has offices in India, Nepal, Afghanistan, the U.K. and Germany. A longtime advocate for children’s rights and an expert on addressing labor violations in manufacturing supply chains, she has been invited to speak on these issues by Harvard University, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, the American Bar Association, TedX–Dhaka, and other organizations. In 2016, she was presented with the Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year award. She has also received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s EXCEL Award for excellence in chief executive leadership.

Currently she sits on the board of the Fair Labor Association, and is a practitioner affiliate of the Social Enterprise Graduate Degree program at American University.

Christopher P. Skroupa: What’s been the impact of GoodWeave’s work within corporate human rights?

Nina Smith: GoodWeave’s vision is a world free of child labor. We have been on the front lines of rescuing children from child labor for almost 25 years. Founded by Nobel Peace recipient Kailash Satyarthi in 1994, GoodWeave has pioneered an innovative, holistic system that brings visibility and gives voice to the most marginalized in the informal work sector, assures consumers that products that carry the GoodWeave label are child-labor free, and restores childhood to rescued children.

Working with the private sector to bring transparency and accountability within all parts of their supply chain is at the heart of GoodWeave’s proven system, from the factory floor level down into the informal and hidden levels where the worst abuses occur. Corporations that value both purpose and policy can, and are, taking full responsibility for the human rights of workers. GoodWeave has been instrumental in partnering with many such companies to make this a reality.

For example, in the South Asian carpet industry we have witnessed an almost 80% reduction in the worst forms of child labor across India, Nepal and Afghanistan due in large part to GoodWeave’s efforts. Partnership with 160 global brands, including Macy’s, Target and RH, and their suppliers, as well as with grassroots communities, has been key. While advancing towards our goal of reaching a tipping point in the carpet industry, perhaps one of the most significant human rights advancements within the corporate arena, we have directly rescued and rehabilitated more than 7,000 children from servitude. And, behind that number is 7,000 names and 7,000 faces. One such name is Nirmala, a rescued child-laborer from Nepal.

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