The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship announced today that Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu , founder and CEO of soleRebels, has received the Foundation's Social Entrepreneur of The Year Award at the 2012 World Economic Forum on Africa taking place now in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia [May 9th-11th].
Nobel Prize laureate and father of microfinance Muhammad Yunus , Music icon Quincy Jones and other global luminaries from Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship were part of the panel that selected the African footwear icon to receive award. She is the first Ethiopian to ever win this award.
In making the award Schwab Foundation Chairman & co-founder Klaus Schwab stated:
“We deeply believe that economic as well as social progress can best be achieved through entrepreneurship.” “ Bethlehem embodies the vision and values of the global social entrepreneur community, and we are proud to honour her exemplary work in creating a highly innovative, ethical and sustainable business that continues to make a strong social impact with this special award.”
“I am truly honored that the Schwab Foundation Board has chosen to recognize me in this manner. I proudly share this recognition with every single one of the talented, industrious, committed and cultured people who everyday work alongside me to make soleRebels what it is - the coolest artisan driven footwear company on the planet .” said Bethlehem
Hailed for both creating award winning products and their model of equitable and sustainable growth, soleRebels is being showcased to World Economic Forum delegates in a series of interactive site visits to the company’s artisan driven factory and soleRebels innovative flagship retail location , the very first private African company to ever be profiled by the WEF in this manner.
- Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is founder and Managing Director of soleRebels, the world's fastest-growing African footwear brand and 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 and today 70,000 pairs of shoes leave her factory every year. soleRebels has been expanding rapidly and today exports to no fewer than 45 countries and is targeting 50 stand alone soleRebels retail stores across the United States by 2018 and 500 worldwide by 2022.