Forget Money and think of Adding Value- Bethlehem Alemu- Sole Rebel’s Story - MADE AFRICANS


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Monday, 8 January 2018

Forget Money and think of Adding Value- Bethlehem Alemu- Sole Rebel’s Story

For those of us who know Bethlehem Alemu, if this lady doesn’t inspire you, then something must be wrong with you. How can a lady see international brands like Adidas, Nike and millions of shoe manufacturers who sell millions of shoes every hour and still think of starting a shoe company? Well, she did and she got really successful. Her story is going to be a short one because her story is straightforward, she knew what she wanted and she just went for it. And when I write “what she wanted” I mean create value and not make a shitload of money.

Born in the Zenebework area of Addis Ababa in Ethopia in the year 1980. She was the eldest of four siblings and she was raised by her two parents who worked in a local hospital in Ethopia.
She finished her primary and secondary education and then went on to study accounting at Unity university where she graduated in 2004.

In the year 2014 she founded SOLEREBELS with capital from her husband and other close family members.
SoleRebels is the planets fastest growing African footwear brand, the world’s first and only World Fair Trade Federation [WFTO] FAIR TRADE certified footwear company AND the very 1st global footwear brand to ever emerge from a developing nation.

She started working from a plot of land owned by her grandmother from Zenebework. All SoleRebels shoes are redesigns and reimaginations of the famous Selate and Barabasso shoe, a traditional recycled tire sole shoe which has been worn by Ethiopians for a very long time. 

The Selate and Barabassoshoe was famously worn by Ethiopian rebel fighters who vehemently opposed western forces from colonizing the country. As matter of fact, that’s where the name ‘soleRebels’ emerged from. 

SoleRebels shoes are also hand crafted by Alemu and her over 1000 employees.
Solerebels got so successful that by 2016 the company had sold 125,000 shoes and created 1200 jobs.

Still in 2014. Alemu started working on another venture, The Republic of Leather. Alemu identified the luxury leather goods industry as being "ripe for a total re-imagining,". The Republic of Leather is centered on principles of customer choice—customer choice of design, producer and receiving charity of 5% of the price they pay, stilll[5] espousing the same ideals of ecological and economic sustainability as soleRebels.

In 2017, " another venture,Garden of Coffee" was also added to her companies. It begins with outlets in Addis Ababa.

Alemu’s story is unique when compared to the average entrepreneurIal story, her story is actually the dream of every 20 year old who wants to start a business and  get very successful within a very short time. 

The only difference is a 20 year old wants his/her first Lamborghini just one year after starting his/her business. But driving an expensive car or making a lot of money wasn’t Alemu’s motivation. She saw the high level of unemployment in her country mostly for artisans, and she did what she could about it. 


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