Monday, November 5, 2012

Ethiopia: soleRebels Footwear in Taiwan

soleRebels Footwear, Ethiopian artisan crafted shoes, are now available for purchase in Taiwan as the first standalone retail shop opens in the Asian country.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu - soleRebels
soleRebels Footwear is the brainchild of Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. It is a footwear company that produces handmade shoes out of recycled materials. These artisan crafted shoes have not only become quite popular in Ethiopia but have also made a global impact: they are now available in Taiwan.

Bethlehem is one of the most prominent personalities when it comes to entrepreneurial innovation. She has been the winner of many prestigious awards among which is the Most Valuable Entrepreneur (MVE) that was awarded her at the Global Entrepreneurship Week in 2011. soleRebels Footwear is not only Ethiopia’s sole business that is a recognized Fair Trade Organization (FTO), accredited by the World Fair trade Organization (WFTO) the global authority in fair trade but also a
global first in the footwear industry. It is these recognitions and achievements that have made Bethlehem an active voice for not only young entrepreneurs but also women entrepreneurs in Africa.

Founded in 2005, the organization makes shoes from recycled materials as well raw materials that are manufactured and bought on the local market. The employees are all considered to be stakeholders and are paid wages that are 4 times Ethiopia’s legal minimum wage and thrice the industry’s average wage not only giving them a steady occupation but also allowing them to make use of their creativity in a profitable way. But more importantly it is one of the very few fully eco-friendly organizations in the country. 

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Starting from humble beginnings the organization now commands a market turnover of millions of dollars. It is this entrepreneurial genius that has made it possible for her to appear and rub shoulders with famous business leaders like Richard Branson and to also take center-stage at global conferences all over the world.  

While there are several retail soleRebels outlets in countries like the United States, Canada, many locations in Europe and also in Japan, the new outlet in Taiwan is the organization’s first standalone international retail store.

soleRebels’ new store is located in Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan. The organization has plans to open a total of 30 outlets in the country, with three more locations expected to open by the end of 2012 alone.

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Talking about her unique entrepreneurial spirit, Bethlehem says: “Love what you are trying to do. If you don’t like what you are doing, you are not going to be successful”.

soleRebels shoes can be bought in Addis Ababa at Adams Pavillion – 2nd floor, right above Kaldi’s.


  1. Their product line is very trendy and no doubt will have a significant impact in their market share in Taiwan's emerging hip and dynamic market from the youth. They even hired local business management consulting for further market integration.

  2. That is a good attitude towards business. You have to be passionate on what you're doing because there will always be a risk, but if you love what you're doing, you will do everything to keep that.

    -Lawrence Banks

  3. Hey, Ethiopia's own Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, founder of soleRebels, received a Social Entrepreneur of the Year award at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa. If you've never heard of this wonderful footwear company and its progressive, local approach to business, check out the video below to learn more. Congrats, Bethlehem!Thanks you so much!!
    Africa Current News

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