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Matthew Friedman is a leading, internationally renowned global expert on modern slavery and human trafficking. An award-winning public speaker, author, filmmaker, and philanthropist, Friedman regularly advises heads of governments and intelligence agencies.
As the founder and CEO of The Mekong Club, Friedman is considered the leading catalyst of the anti-slavery movement in Asia’s business sector by captains of industry. The Mekong Club is one of the first international not-for-profit organisations of its kind based in Asia to use a ‘business-to-business’ approach to fight slavery. Bridging the gap between the public and private sectors, the Mekong Club helps companies of all sizes to understand the complexities of human trafficking and to reduce their vulnerability within their supply chains/business environment. Together with business partners, the Mekong Club is spearheading innovative and strategic projects to achieve a slave-free world.
In 2017, Friedman received the prestigious ‘Asia Communicator of the Year Gold Award’ for giving more than 800 presentations to 80,000 people, including government leaders and the Vatican, on the topic of modern slavery within a five-year period in different countries. Friedman has a unique and powerful speaking style that inspires people and helps them reach their fullest potential.
Each year he is cited at least 40 times in the news media (CNN, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, the Financial Times, The Economist, etc.) and invited to speak at major international conferences around the world.
During his time as a UN and US diplomat, he managed and directed tens of millions of dollars to major humanitarian portfolios impacting millions of people for the World Bank, the U.S. State Department, and the United Nations. His work over the last 30 years of pioneering and managing international anti-human-trafficking projects from Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand and Hong Kong has given him access to many influential networks in different countries throughout the world.
Friedman is the author of 12 books including non-fiction accounts of his human rights work, to a book that outlines his unique philosophy of ‘time’. A long-time supporter of film and the media arts, Friedman was an executive producer and advisor on four award-winning films, one of which was nominated for an Emmy and another executive produced by Emma Thompson.
Friedman has launched a new global campaign called Be the Hero and has published a book to go with it entitled Be the Hero: Be the Change (published on Amazon in March 2020). He believes that the collective actions of ordinary people have the greatest chance of effecting a real transformation. He considers everyone who volunteers, no matter how big or small the gesture, to be heroic.
Friedman is represented by international speaker agencies and provides a range of inspirational keynote speeches to teach, mentor and motivate people from all walks of life to step up and take a stand in life. He has an uncanny ability to take something as complicated and confusing as slavery and break it down into a series of simple messages that walk an audience down a path to understanding. He has shifted the mindsets of many, even the most resistant detractors. His is always a message of hope.
Friedman is married to Sylvia Yu Friedman, who is an award-winning journalist, filmmaker, international speaker, and author of Silenced No More: Voices of Comfort Women. She also fights the scourge of modern slavery, and together in the summer of 2016, they gave 113 presentations in 27 U.S. cities. Friedman has done speaking tours in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Singapore.