Source: Forbes | September 16, 2014
Named one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa in 2011 by FORBES, celebrated Ethiopian entrepreneur, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu launched her first US offering at the beginning of this month; a flagship store of her eco-friendly shoe brand, SoleRebels, in Silicon Valley, California. The Ethiopian shoe brand’s first international retail space is located at Westfield Valley Fair Mall in San Jose, California, an upscale indoor shopping mall in Silicon Valley.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is founder and Managing Director of soleRebels, the world's fastest-growing African footwear brand and also the only Fair Trade-certified footwear company in the world. Growing up in a poor suburb of Addis Ababa, Bethlehem decided that there was only one way to defeat poverty – use local craftsmanship to make products that can compete in the global marketplace. She decided on footwear. Shoes are traditionally made in Ethiopia in a very special way: from indigenous jutes, recycled coffee sacks, organically tanned leather and the treads of car tyres for the soles. Bethlehem started off with five shoemakers. Today 70,000 pairs of shoes leave her factory every year. The colourful shoes have become popular across the world especially with an urban clientele that's both fashion and ethically-conscious. For years now soleRebels has been expanding and today exports to no fewer than 45 countries. A small global brand – and the only one with its flagship store in Addis Ababa.