One of the most innovative and exciting programs I've been following in Liberia is the Liberian Women's Sewing Project. A dear friend and classmate of mine, Emily Stanger, has been working tirelessly to help get this program off the ground. Here is her latest update from Monrovia, sent by e-mail this week...
"Over the past few months, I've been assisting with the start up of a new export-oriented fair trade sewing factory in Liberia. A dearfriend of mine, Chid, is a Liberian who grew up in the US and returnedto Liberia to invest in a sustainable, fair trade apparel factory.
After over a year of work, the project is now well on its way with 32 women employees, a parallel nonprofit for reinvesting funds into thewomen's communities, 30 industrial sewing machines, a generator thatruns on biofuel (hurray for green energy!!!), and an order for 100%African organic T-shirts that will be sold in Spring 2011 fashion lines.
Teaching these women economicsin Liberian English (they are now fluent in supply chains, fair trade,supply and demand, shareholders & dividend payouts, and socialenterprise) and helping them develop into a business-minded workforcehas been one of the most rewarding experiences.
Chid's first investors (a great organization called Root Capital) visited last month. They put together a video to share theirexperience of LWSP and I thought I'd pass it along to all of you as anintroduction to my world in Liberia.... lots of chanting, lots ofsinging, lots of clapping, and LOTS of amazing women. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq_0Qv7EB44."
I am very impressed with this project and see a great deal of potential for it to really take off. I am looking forward to tracking it closely. Further updates from Emily to come!