In Liberia, crafting propagandize uniforms — and amicable alertness – PBS
December 23, 2016 - School Uniform
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, opening a new conform limit in Africa. Special match Fred de Sam Lazaro has a news from Liberia on one man’s bid to use his success in Silicon Valley to move decent jobs to Africa, partial of a series, “Agents for Change”.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Every morning, scarcely 100 women during this mantle bureau in Monrovia start their workday with song.
Liberian women arise up, they sing, “You are a Leaders of a Nation”. Most of them grew adult in circuitously slums. Many had no grave education. Yet, now, they have turn leaders in their communities and partial owners of this factory.
The male who built a bureau is Chid Liberty, a amicable businessman innate in Liberia, son of a diplomat whose family sought haven in a U.S. during a country’s 14-year-long polite war.
Liberty was lifted in Wisconsin, became an American citizen, and was operative in Silicon Valley, vital a American dream, he says, when he had a revelation.
CHID LIBERTY, Co-Founder, Liberty Justice: we was vital in a Bay Area, we know, we had a good salary, we had a unequivocally costly unfamiliar car. we had all we consider a 20-something-year-old child would want. But we satisfied that though going behind to Liberia, we would never unequivocally know who we am truly as a person.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Liberty returned to a nation that had been ravaged by a war, scarcely two-thirds of a race lived in poverty, some-more than half of all adults were illiterate. Although a nation exported iron ore, rubber and diamonds, those industries didn’t emanate many jobs, he said.
CHID LIBERTY: To me, that was crazy. How can we design to lift so a many people out of misery if we’re not indeed creation something, if we’re not adding value to something? So, we looked to countries who have finished it in an extraordinary approach in Asia and we pronounced we feel like this is Africa’s time to do this.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He motionless to build a satisfactory trade mantle bureau profitable women rival wages. He went looking for U.S. investors with this pitch.
CHID LIBERTY: Hey, we wish to go do this ground-breaking world-changing thing and everybody would demeanour during me and say, manufacturing, not only in Africa though Liberia? Are we crazy? You know, don’t let a doorway strike we on a approach out.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Did we have any self-doubt that maybe this was, indeed, a unequivocally stupid idea?
CHID LIBERTY: What we knew we could trust in is a people in Liberia.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Liberty scraped together $200,000 from socially disposed investors, adequate income to buy 30 sewing machines and sinecure 30 women to work in his aunt’s basement. They started by sewing elementary things, t-shirts and receptacle bags that were sole locally.
Four years of assertive doorway knocking finally yielded a jungle prize, a multimillion-dollar sequence from trouser builder Haggar and another from a second company. New buildings and new machines were purchased and 300 workers hired.
CHID LIBERTY: When this was all done, it would have been about $40 million a year that we would be creation from these dual companies. We suspicion it was a flattering good business, as did a investors and everybody else.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And afterwards this —
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Ebola conflict in West Africa —
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Ebola. Seventy percent of a employees lived in West Point, a area that was belligerent 0 for a lethal virus. Employees were entirely sensitive about precautions to take and thankfully, all of them survived.
CHID LIBERTY: On a business side, we fundamentally went to zero. We mislaid all of a contracts, we didn’t broach in time.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And they weren’t entrance behind even when a predicament abated.
CHID LIBERTY: we would call behind people and contend we consider a conflict is roughly over, do we wish to come behind to Liberia? And they’d say, no, son, there’s no approach we’re entrance with you.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Stuck with a bureau full of fabric and idled employees, Liberty got an idea, since not make propagandize uniforms compulsory for all students opposite Africa and that relatives mostly can't afford?
CHID LIBERTY: So, we knew that preparation was a unequivocally large problem. Kids were out of propagandize for a year. The one thing we could minister was a uniform.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: To compensate a workers who would stitch and present a uniforms, Liberty launched a Kickstarter debate offered t-shirts. He lifted $230,000 in only over a month. That got a courtesy of a Manhattan tradesman Bloomingdale’s that invited him to start his possess wardrobe line. He called it reasonably enough, Uniform. It includes simple t-shirts, pants and jackets and they’re marketed as socially-minded products.
With any sale of a mantle in a U.S., income is donated to a Uniform Project in Liberia. We went with him recently as he delivered t-shirts to a Monrovia Football Academy. So far, he’s been means to present 8,000 uniforms to schools opposite Liberia.
Chid Liberty says he never suspicion he would be in a conform business, though now he says he’s happy not to have to count on other clients.
CHID LIBERTY: we unequivocally suspicion there was no approach we could do this on a own, though it’s been extraordinary to see a possess code and lead with munificence and assistance with kids in school, and that’s what finished adult creation a bureau successful.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The women seemed happy, too. They make some-more income than average, polite servants, accept medical and simple propagandize march work. School was not an choice for many during a war.
You listened there was a pursuit here.
MUAYEN SWARCEY, Garment worker: Yes.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And we came and how prolonged would we like to be in this place?
MUAYEN SWARCEY: How prolonged would we like to be here? Forever.
LEONA MONGU, Garment worker: This has helped me providing for my children and promulgation them to school.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Liberty is means to compensate high salary and keep his prices rival with Asian factories since his panoply can be alien duty-free to a U.S. interjection to a law to inspire trade with African nations. Massive problems sojourn in Liberia: a miss of roads, strange energy supply and official corruption, though Liberty feels he has combined an oasis for his workers.
CHID LIBERTY: It’s been so extraordinary to watch people have a grace of a job, so most so that during times that, we know, when we close down since of Ebola, kept revelation them, don’t come, they still came. They see any other as a family and they go to any other.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It’s a little bid in a nation in unfortunate needs of hundreds more, though a prototype, he says, of what Africa needs, decent jobs creation African products from African resources in Africa.
For a “PBS NewsHour” this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Monrovia, Liberia.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Fred’s stating is a partnership with a Undertold Stories Project during University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.