Friday, April 2, 2010

Made in Liberia

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."

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!


Anonymous said...

With a Class System between American Liberians and Native Liberians still very much intact, do you believe Liberia will evolve with the rest of the world one day? How long will it take?

Meaning - written into their Constitution, foreigners can't buy / own land. How do Liberian's expect to evolve with the rest of the world, when they economically isolate themselves with their restrictions on land ownership / property?

In addition to this, almost every insurance company in the world has black-listed Liberia. If you wanted to insure a business, building or a vehicle - it's virtually impossible. No one is willing to take the risk where endemic corruption and crime still occurs.

What were the results of your thesis? Did you solve any of their major economic problems Molly?

Lous group said...


Lous group said...

Molly, thanks for your insightful story about the women in Libera who are sewing Tshirts. I applaud your blog.
Lou in Dallas

Anonymous said...

Dear Molly and Everyone,

I thank you all for helping my country especially so the women of Monrovia and its surroundings. You did not have to do it but you did out of love for your fellow human beings. Thanks a million!

My name Bernard Gbayee Goah. I hail from Liberia, West Africa. While in Liberia, I worked as a school registrar for the Len Miller Senior High School and also served as a member of the UNICEF Water and Sanitation section.
I fled from Liberia into neighboring Cote d’lvoire as a result of the Liberian civil war. Due to war and political instability in Cote d’lvoire I fled to Ghana West Africa where I lived as a refugee at the Buduburam refugee camp, which held over 42,000 refugees.
I served as school teacher and project director for the Liberian Refugee skills training center where I taught Physics and basic electrical. As a refugee myself, I served as Head of the Water and Sanitation Department of the Children Better Way organization for three years. While working with Children Better Way, I worked with both local and international volunteers from diverse backgrounds and from all over the globe including the USA, Canada, UK, Spain, France, Germany, Australia and Holland. I served as founding member and first chairman of the Buduburam Sanitation Network with coalition members such as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, as well as Local NGOs and CBOs in and around the refugee camp.
I now live in the United States and I am a graduate of Portland State University. I hold a BA in Business Administration/Information Systems and currently working on a masters degree.

I do not intend to put my resume on your blog for any other reason. I had to do this because of the level of hardship currently in Liberia. Women in the hinterland in Liberia are totally left out by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government. To be specific, Women in the Southeastern region of Liberia are not considered at all by the current Liberian government. Almost all government funding and programs are concentrated in Monrovia and its surroundings. The rest of the hinterland is left on its own.
I have a question for you. Did you travel beyond Bong County? Did you visit Grand Gedeh, Lofa, and Nimba counties? These three counties are the biggest in the entire country and were damaged by the very war Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf support financially.
If you like, I can send you current photos of the kind of life the people in these areas are living. With huge sum of money been pump into Liberia by the international community especially the US, I find it hard to believe that life in Liberia is the way it is after almost 4 and the half years of Ellen Johnson coming into power.
I do not believe one bit that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf wants to help the indigenous women of Liberia. These were the same women she ordered rebels to kill in 1990 on BBC radio. There were over 100,000 women and children in Monrovia at that time when Ellen told Charles Taylor to level Monrovia to the ground. Most of them were truly killed as instructed by Ellen Johnson. Why would anyone want me to believe that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has changed at all?
Again, thanks a million for all of the help. I only want you to know that what took place in Liberia is deeper then what you saw and what is happening inside the rest of the country.

Bernard Gbayee Goah

Audrey said...

Hi Molly. My name is Audrey and I live in NJ. I've been offered an acre of land in Liberia to build a Womens Business Center. I just wanted to know if I could ask you some questions about your experience while you were there. Please email me at

Thank you,

amp said...

thanks for this blog and your great work on liberia

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