One of the more frequently asked questions about our program is this: How did Free The Girls come up with the idea that gently-used bras could help provide job opportunities for survivors of sex trafficking?
In 2010, Free The Girls founders Dave and Amy Terpstra were getting ready to move their family to Mozambique to become missionaries for World Venture. Dave traveled there in advance several times, searching for opportunities and leads for the social entrepreneurial work he would be doing through World Venture. He knew he would be working with vulnerable populations in Mozambique from homeless street boys to human trafficking survivors, so one purpose he had in mind during these trips was finding a viable business opportunity that would help provide job opportunities for survivors of sex trafficking.
One day he saw a street vendor walking around with an umbrella that had used bras hanging all around it. His curiosity was piqued, did women really buy used bras in the second hand clothing markets?
After conducting additional research, Dave learned that bras are considered a luxury item and command top dollar in the used clothing markets of developing countries like Mozambique.
He thought: “if we are going to do something to help create business opportunities for women trying to build–or rebuild–a life after prostitution, why not choose something that can make them as much money as possible reselling something that women in the United States would happily give away for free?”
And the idea for Free The Girls–survivors selling bras as a source of income–was born.