In Liberia’s capital of Monrovia, I had the pleasure of meeting Chid Liberty, the energetic co- founder of the Liberian Women’s Sewing Project. Chid’s family owns Vamoma House, located on one of Monrovia’s biggest boulevards, an imposing multi-story building painted in faded light blue and cream. During the Civil War, Vamoma House was occupied and pillaged, providing a safe haven for warring factions, including Charles Taylor. Chid returned to his native Liberia to bring his family’s building, scarred with bullet holes, back to life. In the basement of Vamoma House, the women of Made in Liberia, Africa’s first free trade-certified garment factory, are filling orders for companies like J.Crew, prAna, and FEED.
The women of Made in Liberia, who were on both sides of the fighting during the civil war, now own and operate a business together. About 75 percent of Made in Liberia’s profits are used for community development projects, with the remaining 25 percent staying within the enterprise, allowing the women to build equity over time. Made in Liberia’s Right to Work program includes a 4-course curriculum intended to train women in entering the workforce, personal finance and job skills. Every graduate is guaranteed a full-time job at Made in Liberia, and an opportunity to save for their future. Made in Liberia’s Working Assets program encourages women to save by matching 100 percent of their savings for one year, enabling them to invest in major assets like land, education or starting a business.