Case Study

Kamonohashi – Spiralling up through theory of change and portfolio management


Kamonohashi (Kamo) was founded in 2002 with the mission to create a world without sexual trafficking and exploitation as well as to prevent vulnerable women and children from being trafficked.[1] Kamo’s mission of combatting sex trafficking is the primary incentive for Kamo’s activities. It is this mission, Kamo’s theory of change and the subsequent model development that influence Kamo’s portfolio of activities.

Today, Kamo is present in Cambodia and India, receives support from 3,211 members monthly and 90 corporate members with 500 volunteers[2] and has a total annual revenue of 1.277 Million USD[3]. Revenues come to 44% from membership fees, to 22.5% from factory sales and other livelihood activities and to 21.4% from one-time donations[4]. This untied financial source gives Kamo flexibility to allocate its resources only to impactful programmes. It also carries out due diligence strictly in alignment with its mission. Together with its history of redefining and refining the theory of change, these are the strength of Kamo to choose impactful organizations to partner with and to achieve its mission.

Kamo started initially in Cambodia. The Cambodian venture began with IT classes in 2004, Kamo established its first factory in 2006 and another factory in 2008. In 2009, the organisation involved the police force and orphanages in its quest to reduce trafficking by offering the Law Enforcement Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking in Children (LEASETC) together with the UN and other agencies, which was renamed in 2011 into the LEAP (Law Enforcement Advancing Protection of Children and Vulnerable Persons). Concurrently, the community factory had grown to 125 trainees covering most poor families in the district and had begun to sell handicraft in the local market. In 2012, the second store opened in the market and programme evaluation took place for law enforcement initiatives.

Learning from experience: Changing the Theory of Change from Cambodia to India

The Indian operations were started in 2012, when Kamo decided to explore expansion to other countries worldwide, and it build partnerships with local NGOs in 2012. The Indian venture is particularly interesting as it shows what Kamo has learned from its initial organisation in Cambodia and how its theory of change has been developing.

Kamo’s theory of change in Cambodia was built around the assumption that poverty eradication and prevention are key to eradicating sex trafficking. This is why Kamo focused on building an income stream for the community by starting IT classes and setting up the factory. Subsequently Kamo also started working with law enforcement agencies to increase arrest and prosecution of perpetrators and reduce incidences of trafficking. Through these actions, Kamo learned that while poverty is one reason for sex trafficking, vulnerability to trafficking has more complex reasons than poverty[5]. For instance out of one village, only a few persons may be trafficked, so what vulnerability do these persons have that makes them prone to trafficking? This is where impact assessment becomes crucial: in terms of the factory in Cambodia, it was difficult to see the direct correlation between employment and deterrence to sex trafficking, as well as difficult to link the micro-level impact to the trend shift in the macro-level. By contrast, the effect of law enforcement was more clearly observed from the Cambodian LEAP programme.

In India, the theory of change shifted to enhancement of criminal justice system and rehabilitation of trafficked survivors, keeping ecosystem building in the centre of these two focuses. Tomomi Shimizu[6], senior project manager at Kamo in India, outlined the rationale: “Providing employment is maybe affecting the sex trafficking, but the law enforcement agencies were the obvious link. If law enforcement agencies work rigorously, more traffickers are being indicted, the business of trafficking is becoming costly and is expected to wind down. So the enhancement of criminal justice system working with government is crucial. In India we have been working with the criminal justice system firstly and also increasingly the rehabilitation of the survivors, because we found that survivors of sex trafficking are not heard by the system, so survivors need to be empowered, and for this the rehabilitation is crucial.” In contrast to Cambodia, the criminal justice and rehabilitation are the key angles in India to change sex trafficking.

Manifestation of theory of change in Portfolio

While Kamo’s theory of change is still evolving in India, Kamo’s activities are manifested in its continuous model development, research pared with impact measurement and ecosystem-building. This is reflected in Kamo’s portfolio in India[7]:

  1. Model development         – 49%
  2. Research                         – 17%
  3. Ecosystem building         – 16%
  4. Miscellaneous.                 – 18%[8]

Model development integrates questioning the initial theory of change and continuously refining it according to rigorous trial and error. Initially Kamo decided to focus on the corridor Bengal to Maharashtra based on government data, which showed that 48% of trafficked persons rescued in Maharashtra come from West Bengal. Starting with this data, Kamo develops a hypothesis and then do a model around the hypothesis. The model is then implemented in one area with continuous data collection in order to see if the model works. Once the model proves to work, Kamo scales up to other locations and again examines what factors may have contributed to the success beyond their own activities[9].

One example is the dance movement therapy that Kolkata Sanved and Kamo are implementing to facilitate the psychosocial recovery of trafficked survivors under institutional care. In 2012 Kamo invested 5 lakhs INR/ 10 000 USD into the research to understand the context and situations of institutional care and psychological issues that survivors are currently facing at institutional care. Then based on the findings from the research, Kolkata Sanved developed a specific model for trafficked survivors and rolled out the model in Mumbai in 2013. In 2014 the model was modified and the revised model has been tested again with the same setting in Mumbai. Simultaneously, the revised model has been tested in West Bengal also to see how the model works in different context and what patterns exist to make the model successful. Right now the programme is in the phase of impact assessment to see the feasibility of scale-up/out, and for Tomomi Shimizu, this is essential because “this is when we realise what works and when we put money into a programme, we put the money in the right model”.[10]

Kamo assesses the timing of exit by the degree of improvement in the issue. This assessment process was started in 2012 in Cambodia, when Kamo started thinking about localisation of the Community Factory. By 2018, it plans to hand it over.

Research has various functions for Kamo externally and internally. To start with the internal function, research influences the inclusion of different parameters into Kamo’s impact measurement for instance from 2012 measuring “number of those rescued” to 2013 measuring “numbers of survivors receiving legal support in the Maharashtra-West Bengal route”[11]. The theory of change changes according to the data from the ground, as can also be observed in the shift away from poverty alleviation based on Cambodian insights and the stronger focus on law enforcement coupled with rehabilitation in India.

Externally, it’s a way to pull together data and can be a fact finding mission[12]. One example of this is the report with Sanjog “Tafteesh: In search of justice” (2013) [13] which also has an impact on model development in 2014[14] by understanding the roles and systemic gaps in the current justice delivery mechanism for survivors.

Another external function of research is creating awareness. The report with Dasra on the initiatives in India to end sex trafficking[15] generated much momentum and increase awareness[16]. Ultimately, Kamo “aims to put an end to this inhumane issue with philosophy of EVIDENCE-BASED with data from the ground, STRATEGIES shared and agreed with stakeholders, and coordination with the ECOSYSTEM of anti-human trafficking.”[17]

To this end, Kamo invests heavily into eco-system building in order to achieve convergence of all agencies working on the issue of sex trafficking in India[18]. Beyond data collection and sharing, Kamo concretely builds the eco-system to enhance and work with law enforcement agencies in strengthening deterrence to this inhumane business of human trafficking[19].  In particular, Kamo is directly and indirectly catalysing for the partnership with following stakeholders[20]:

  • The State agencies
  • Survivors
  • Local community
  • Global community
  • CBOs and NGOs

However, while the areas are listed separately in the portfolio, the three areas are very much cutting across each other. For instance, while the model development is being done, then the eco-system building happens simultaneously. So flexibility is high between the three areas. 

In sum

Kamo’s rigorous approach to exploring its theory of change has a significant impact on portfolio management and allocation of its resources. Leveraging synergies between the model development, research and eco-system building are crucial for Kamo’s mission-driven approach and is being continuously refined to reduce if not eradicate the complex issue of sexual trafficking.


[1] http://www.kamonohashi-project.net/english/about/

[2] Kamonohashi Annual Report 2013-2014, p. 2

[3] Kamonohashi Annual Report 2013-2014, p. 11

[4] Kamonohashi Annual Report 2013-2014, p. 11

[5] Conversation with Tomomi Shimizu on 14 April 2015

[6] Conversation with Tomomi Shimizu on 14 April 2015

[7] Kamonohashi Annual Report 2013-2014, p. 7

[8] Miscellaneous includes support for institutional growth, such as operations, stabilisation of other eco-system players, and to generate data and insights; conversation with Tomomi Shimizu on 14 April 2015

[9] Conversation with Tomomi Shimizu on 14 April 2015

[10] Conversation with Tomomi Shimizu on 14 April 2015

[11] Kamonohashi Annual Report 2013-2014, p. 4

[12] Conversation with Tomomi Shimizu on 14 April 2015 and see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23sSzj1DoHI accessed on 15 April 2015

[13] http://www.kamonohashi-project.net/english/project/

[14] Kamonohashi Annual Report 2013-2014, p. 7

[17] Written comments by Tomomi Shimizu on 13 April 2015

[20] Conversation with Tomomi Shimizu on 14 April 2015




A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

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