21 April 2021 LESSONS Labour rights

Boosting Brazil’s fight against slave labour

A worker handling fabric

InPACTO promotes the prevention and eradication of slave labour in Brazilian and international corporate production chains.


  • The grant was aimed at strengthening the organisation by: expanding the InPACTO team’s capacity and external member base;
  • boosting actions to combat slave labour; and
  • innovating and consolidating organisational approaches and services.


Partner: InPACTO (National Pact for the Eradication of Slave Labour Institute)

Investment: EUR 536,005

Duration: 4 years (April 2017 to March 2021)

Geographic region: Brazil


InPACTO has a positive standing and influence in the Brazilian field of eradicating slave labour, thanks to its technical expertise and effective collaboration with different sectors.

InPACTO is viewed as a credible organisation in Brazil and has received some international recognition, however, there is scope to further improve its reputation and visibility. InPACTO’s influence lies in its ability to identify and liaise with different interests, participate in public fora, and advocate for change. The organisation has gained credibility in the production sector thanks to successful collaboration with companies and its capacity to deal with a major issue – modern slavery – in a technically rigorous way that helps companies resolve value chain challenges.

Positive results were concentrated in the coffee value chain and there was further reported merit in driving the carnauba (palm wax) agenda, against a backdrop of scarce resources. Action within the textile sector was less successful and conflicted with the agendas of other textile retailer bodies. International fundraising supported many of these efforts, with Laudes Foundation remaining a significant contributor to InPACTO’s budget. Over-reliance on foundation funding leaves the organisation at risk where financial sustainability is concerned.

While the partnership was relevant for addressing shared goals on forced labour, the core support grant design and operations proved challenging.

As well as being aligned with the programmatic goals of both organisations, the core support grant boosted InPACTO’s organisational development and supported the human rights agenda in Brazil. The core support model enabled important capacity building through grant features like the medium term length of the partnership, financial support, unrestricted use of resources, leveraging co-financing and in-kind support. However, the partnership added a focus on the fashion industry and this shifted the emphasis away from the core focus on institutional strengthening.

The grant design was based on third party input from consultants, contradicting the aim of organisational strengthening. Plans developed by consultants were not typically effective in building capacity as they failed to take into account the feasibility of implementing proposals in practice 

The monitoring mechanisms set up by the foundation involved frequent communication that enabled management to resolve challenges and triggered frequent realignment on the core support approach. The intensity of monitoring was reported as unsustainable and unfeasible for partnerships supported by the foundation.

The goal to establish a skilled and appropriate team with able and present leadership and a well-functioning governance model was fraught with challenges.

The process of strengthening the InPACTO team met with difficulties including high turnover, an incomplete and overloaded team that was unable to meet demands and produce results, and the absence of development and learning opportunities. A lack of people management skills at the leadership level limited team management approaches and the time needed to devote to the organisation. Nonetheless, efforts were made towards establishing a more appropriate, integrated leadership team during the last year of the initiative.

The adoption of a governance model inspired by the organisation that incubated InPACTO was inappropriate for both the size and proposed mandate. The governance model was also not amenable to supporting leadership development. Further, the presence of Laudes Foundation on the Board highlighted challenges related to communication, independence and autonomy, and created a dilemma in terms of exiting the partnership. However, the restructuring of InPACTO’s management model is now underway.

What did we learn?

Laudes Foundation

Core support should be treated as purely core support. Inserting an additional agenda of the funder's interest can lead to inefficiencies that limit the partnership's main objective – in this case, unrestricted support aimed at organisational strengthening.

It is vital to include an exit strategy that supports the sustainability of the partner organisation when developing a comprehensive core support approach. 

Organisational capacity building and institutional strengthening efforts must emerge from within partner organisations to enable increased ownership and buy-in.

For Partners & Others

External consultants that support design plans (such as those focused on communications, theory of change and fundraising) without sufficient monitoring on the implementation of proposals can lead to unmet results that create institutional anxiety.

The main capability ingredients for good institutional leadership are political coordination, technical expertise and organisational management. 

Close partner relationships can support consultative problem solving and promote adaptive management.