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Project helps Liberians start small businesses

May 13, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University professor is collaborating with WMU students to help Liberians get established in the wedding dress business.

Called "Micro Enterprise--Macro Impact in Liberia," the project assists Liberians with the startup of small businesses renting or creating wedding dresses in the West African nation.

"Families are very important in Liberia, a country devastated by war and poverty," says Dr. Susan Weinger, a WMU professor of social work, who is heading the project. "If one family member begins a business, the profits are used to support an extended family. Very little means can go a long way to helping people reestablish their lives and give young people a chance for development."

Wedding dresses are very popular in Liberia, and few are available, Weinger explains. She and her group are asking for donations of good quality, used and new wedding dresses, as well as wedding dress fabric, veils, beaded appliqué and lace.

The dresses and materials will be sent to Liberia to help a 30-year-old mother, who just graduated from college, start a bridal gown rental business and supply local tailors with material to make wedding dresses. Donations of quality sewing machines also will be helpful to the tailors, who will supply the rental business with wedding dresses. With the profits, the business people can become self-sufficient.

Weinger has been to Liberia, serving as a consultant to a rehabilitation center. She has also sent used computers to the war-torn country, and two Internet café businesses have been developed as a result. Her direct contacts there help ensure the goods will go directly to the people who are in need and who have the competency to develop a business.


To learn more about the project and how to contribute, call (269) 344-0760 or e-mail elegant.liberia@gmail.com.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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