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Pierre Tami

Cambodia , Class of 2004

Pierre Tami

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From despair to hope—Pierre Tami in Cambodia helps to regain dignity for the abused, vulnerable and jobless through social empowerment.

Pierre Tami originally comes from Switzerland with a background in business, to be more specific, the airline industry. He and his wife, Simonetta, moved to Asia in the early 80s and later on in the 90s moved with his family to Cambodia.  It was there that he first became involved with human trafficking victims. He opened Hagar Cambodia in 1994, a shelter for women and children. The organization rapidly expanded and developed into a hybrid organization, with social rehabilitation programs under the NGO and a number of commercial and social enterprises. Hagar has developed a number of projects such as, counseling services, education and skills, as well as a foster home for abused and trafficked children. Hagar also opened a home for children with disabilities in 1996 called the House of Smiles. Key to Hagar’s strategic approach was the combination of social businesses alongside the NGO protection, recovery and reintegration programs.  Mr. Tami was given a Trafficking in Persons Report Hero Award in 2004 in recognition of the work he was doing with Hagar.

By 2005 with the support of US State Department and IFC World Bank, Hagar created Hagar International. This was done in order to expand to other countries such as Vietnam and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Hagar has also made the aftercare of boy trafficking victims a priority, which is not only rare in the field but also in the areas in which they work. Representative offices were also set up in Australia, UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States as a way to support the expanding work of Hagar.

In the meantime, Hagar International created Hagar Social Enterprise Group (HSEG) to manage its social enterprise investments.  Hagar still retains to this day Cambodia's leading industrial catering business, which prepares around 3.5 million meals a year by employing more than 300 people. Hagar is also an investor in Joma Bakery Cafe, a regional bakery and coffee chain operating throughout South East Asia and providing training and employment pathways to Hagar beneficiaries.

In 2011, Mr. Tami stepped down from his leadership position in order to focus on new emerging challenge in the region: youth without skills and jobs who could be vulnerable to possible exploitation, trafficking, low level employment and poor pay. Mr. Tami founded Shift360, an organization focused on Southeast Asia and a growing economic region called the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The organization works to provide sustainable opportunities, fair and valuable employment, economic growth, and boost the capital potential for youth  who are coming from vulnerable and low socio-economic populations in Southeast Asia. Their first project was to create a skills college in Phnom Penh called the Academy of Culinary Arts – Cambodia through an innovative approach, a Public – Private Partnership (PPP). Mr. Tami alongside different business partners, has also opened a number of businesses in the food/beverage area. Pierre and Simonetta Tami continue to live in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and have three daughters and three grandchildren

In the 2014 TIP Report, Cambodia was listed as a source, transit, and destination country, and placed on a Tier 2 watch list. Sex trafficking is common, in and out of the country, as is trafficking for the purposes of forced labor or domestic servitude. The country is making efforts to comply with the minimum requirements of the TVPA. 

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