empowered worker voice

People are at the center of all of Issara's data and intelligence work.  Using human-centered design, we conduct in-depth research into supply chains while empowering workers within them, developing tailor-made technologies that tap into one of the most potent and under-utilised resources of all: worker voice.

With eyes and ears on the ground, workers have invaluable information on what happens in supplier facilities every day. Through worker voice channels such as the Issara hotline, Facebook, social media, and established connections with migrant communities, Issara has a constant pulse on the voices of thousands of workers, who have the capacity to uncover risks in complex global supply chains and drive structural changes in the way business is done, from small changes at the individual supplier level to large-scale changes at the national industry level and how responsible sourcing is done globally. 


The purpose of having robust worker voice channels for migrant workers is threefold: (1) to provide migrant workers with platforms to exchange critical information to find decent work and avoid risky recruitment and employment; (2)  to expand channels for remediation to more migrant workers; and, (3) to support corporate due diligence efforts. 


At Issara Labs we conduct a wide range of research and analytics, related to partner supply chains as well as migration and trafficking more broadly. Please check out our library of research publications under Publications and Press!  To read more about 'worker voice' in the context of global supply chains, please check out our November 2017 brief at right: What is worker voice in global supply chains?  5 questions that need to be asked, from the perspective of data integrity and worker empowerment.

Golden Dreams: A 'Yelp-Like' smartphone app for Burmese and Cambodian workers

Over 90% of the estimated 5+ million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand own smartphones with data packages - and, the mobile phones of over 90% of Burmese people in Myanmar who own phones are smartphones as well.  In January 2017, with the support of USAID and Walmart Foundation, Issara Institute launched Golden Dreams, a Burmese-language smartphone app, to revolutionize safe migration, jobseeker empowerment, ethical sourcing due diligence, and anti-human trafficking.  It is a platform for learning and exchanging information, reviews, ratings, comments, and advice about employers, recruiters, and service providers, in both home and destination countries.  The concept is similar to Yelp or Tripadvisor, except the platform is in Burmese language, and the key topics are those that are most relevant to migrant workers.

Features include:

  • The latest news and updates on rights, policies, and laws related to migrant workers;  

  • Updated information on a comprehensive, and ever growing, list of employers, recruitment agencies, and service providers such as hospitals and NGOs;

  • Review and rating functions to allow users to exchange views and opinions about employers, recruiters, and service providers;

  •  Polling, to allow migrant workers to voice their opinions, and learn the opinions of other Burmese people across the world;

  •  Easy and secure registration through Facebook or the creation of a secure userID and password;

  • News updates from Myanmar, including about culture, sports, and Burmese celebrities; and,

  • Ability to share a problem or seek immediate assistance from the Issara team, 24 hours a day, through a free phone helpline or private messaging.


Screenshots of Golden Dreams: easy and secure login page, and Share a Problem with Issara page.

Research: Leveraging our position on the ground and in global supply chains

Issara Institute is very clear in its theory of change, stakeholders, and pathways to impact - primarily focusing on empowering migrant workers, and driving better business management of worker-related systems such as labour recruitment, human resource management, and grievance mechanisms.  However, in our work, we realize that we capture and have access to unique data that, if anonymized and properly analyzed, would make a significant contribution to public good - reports that could be used to inform the policy and programming of governments, industry leaders, NGOs, and development donors.  Through Issara Labs we ensure that we are constantly learning, and constantly generating useful reports to help others learn as well.  We run structured large-scale research, such as our 2017 prevalence study of human trafficking in the Thai fishing industry, as well as generate shorter reports based on innovative research and analytical approaches that contribute unique knowledge and insights - often from workers, trafficked persons, or business.  Check out our library of research and reports on our Publications page, including our recently completed series on Labour Issues in the Fishing Industry, and series on Ethical Labour Recruitment, rolled out in 2018!

Issara's 2016-2017 research team enjoys a bit of down time while investigating human trafficking in the Thai fishing industry.

Data visualization through GIS mapping


Issara uses GIS mapping to create visual representations of its various incoming data streams. We analyse data from our worker voice channels, field research, prevalence research, and case data to better understand worker migration patterns and high areas of risk for incidences in trafficking.


This intelligence is used strategically to conduct targeted outreach and prevention activities, including for capacity building of civil society and government.


Click through our gallery for some examples of maps produced. Tailored maps are also available on request. Please get in touch with the team at