Making Migration to Malaysia Safer

Project Selamat

  • Ethical Recruitment
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    Migrant workers are a critical labor source for global supply chains yet also a highly vulnerable population. A significant share of forced labor victims are migrants. Malaysia is highly representative of this global situation. It is a major hub for supply chains across many sectors and hosts ~2 million migrant workers, not counting a possibly larger informal migrant population. It has an estimated ~200k modern slavery victims (GSI). There are no good estimates specific to international migrant workers in Malaysia, but practical experience suggests high rates.

    With the generous support of, GFEMS is helping address the exploitation of migrants in Malaysia. Selamat is the Malay word for “safe,” and the first word in the phrase for “welcome” – selamat datang. For Project Selamat, the overall, long-term vision for success is to live up to that word by creating an environment that is safe and welcoming for migrant workers in Malaysia. Safe and welcoming means migrants are able to work free from forced labor and can have a migration experience that is productive and beneficial for them and their families. We’re getting there by seeding ethical recruitment and equipping travelers with the tools they need to avoid, recognize, or report exploitation.

    Supporting the First Ethical Recruitment Agency in Malaysia

    GFEMS is funding Malaysia’s first ethical recruitment agency, Pinkcollar, in order to expand its operations. Pinkcollar has a long track record helping domestic workers in Malaysia operate safely and legally. Between its founding in 2019 and the start of Selamat in 2022, Pinkcollar placed and support 180 domestic workers, saving them an estimated $70,000 in exploitative recruitment debt. Under Project Selamat, Pinkcollar is expand in two directions: to providing services directly in a new labor-sending country, Indonesia, and addressing a new sector, Malaysia’s growing manufacturing industries. The Fund’s support will help Pinkcollar accelerate their growth and increase their operating capacity for both domestic work and manufacturing recruitment.

    Bringing SafeStep to a Malaysia

    Since 2020, GFEMS has been supporting a consortium of partners ELEVATE, Diginex, and Winrock develop SafeStep: an app that helps Bangladeshi workers migrate safely. A lack of information is a major factor in how people who have migrated fall into forced labor so often. They aren’t sure what their rights are in their destination country, what they should expect from an employer (or what they should be protected from), or what it should cost, among other things. SafeStep offers country-specific educational digital content, a budget calculator, digital documentation storage, and help center functions, which collectively address numerous migrant challenges. Crucially, it was developed with deep input from actual migrant wokers. In our initial funding rounds, we helped build out the app for use in migration to Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Under Selamat, ELEVATE and its partners are tailoring the app to Malaysia and building in additional features that will help SafeStep meet the needs of employers and migrants alike.



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