Early in June 2014, Chid Liberty’s factory hummed with promise. Workers were almost done installing the sewing machines, completing a two-year-long overhaul of the facility, a multi-story building that rises above the slums of West Point in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia. Liberty & Justice, the company he founded to produce ethically sourced apparel and bring prosperity to a pocket of this war-torn nation, had just hired 200 workers.

Liberty’s mind was on logistics and possibilities,...

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