Source: Forbes International | by Renuka Methil | 15 October 2015
This article appeared in the August/September 2015 issue of Forbes Woman Africa.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is a tireless foot soldier taking Ethiopian entrepreneurship to the world. She is building a $20-million shoe factory in Addis Ababa and is also soon launching a coffee brand.
The Adams Pavilion, a dusty shopping center selling aromatic oils, kitschy cushions and costumes in the noisy Sar Bet area of Addis Ababa, is hardly the setting for a flagship shop selling high-value branded shoes to 16 stores around the world, from Singapore to Switzerland to Silicon Valley.
Yet, that is where it all started – from a single outlet in Ethiopia.
Above the din of traffic outside, the diminutive Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, in jeans, a white T-shirt and blue blazer, her hair coiffed into a careless bun, is retelling the genesis of her hugely successful business, soleRebels, 10 years ago.