Chid Liberty saw a gap between what the women of Liberia were capable of and the opportunities available to them. In response, he founded Liberty and Justice, a garment factory that is the first fair trade-certified apparel producer in Africa, and the first to empower its workers.
“I want to change the world by providing jobs for women at the base of the pyramid.”
For the past decade, Liberia has been a country in the remaking. With even the most basic infrastructure — roads, schools, hospitals, water delivery systems and power grids — destroyed from years of civil war, establishing a steady supply of jobs has remained all but impossible.
Chid Liberty seeks to change that. Armed with a background in finance, Chid returned from the United States to his childhood home intent on doing good and turning a profit. His venture Liberty and Justice hires local women to sew fair trade clothing and handbags for American retailers. But his employees aren’t your standard factory workers; the women also own 49 percent of the company (Chid channels his 51 percent share into community development programs). He explains how their involvement is beneficial to both the women and the company: “because they’re the shareholders in the factory, they want to be internationally competitive with productivity; they want to have more premium so that they can build more schools and hospitals.” As a result, the workers have an incentive to be proactive and find their own ways to make production more efficient.
By making the connection between fair employment practices and financial reward, Liberty and Justice has succeeded in becoming the first (and only) value-added export to come out of Liberia. Chid explains, “We are the only company right now that is unlocking that human spirit, that human creativity in actually producing something that you just can’t take from the ground.” In doing so, the factory also meets “92 standards in terms of environment sustainability and economic justice,” according to Chid and was awarded the 2011 SVN Innovation Award from Social Venture Network. He sees his current factory, and a second opening in Ghana, as just the beginning: Chid wants this “Factory 2.0” model to flourish globally. “We want to create this model, it’s completely open source.”