Bethlehem Alemu, an Ethiopian entrepreneur, started her footwear company SoleRebels in 2005 to provide eco-friendly, fair trade jobs to her community. SoleRebels transforms vehicle tires into smart shoes. Its continuous growth as a business has seen the company open over 18 stores worldwide, including the USA, Japan, Austria, Spain, and Switzerland. Bethlehem was the first female African entrepreneur to address the Clinton Global Initiative and CNN also named her in the top 12 women entrepreneurs in the last century.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu was born and raised in the Zenabwork /Total area of Addis Ababa, one of the most impoverished and marginalized communities of Ethiopia.
Growing up Bethlehem saw that Ethiopia had no single global brand of its own, so she set out to make a change. By utilizing her community’s and the nation’s rich artisan wealth and heritages, Bethlehem began re-imagining what footwear could be.
In early 2005, fresh out of college in Addis Ababa, Bethlehem started the company SoleRebels to provide solid community-based jobs. After five years, SoleRebels slowly became one of the planets’ fastest-growing African footwear brands. According to the world’s first and only World Fair Trade Federation [WFTO], FAIRTRADE certified footwear company and the very 1st global footwear brand to ever emerge from a developing nation. Bethlehem is a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship and also sits on the board of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
A trailblazer in every respect, Bethlehem has transformed the discourse on African development to one about prosperity creation driven by local Africans maximizing their talents and resources.
In conclusion, Bethlehem is a leading force in the new generation of homegrown African leaders, talented entrepreneurs. She has taken on the global market and continues winning on an unprecedented level. She gives a face and a voice to African-driven female economic leaders. Today, she continues to elevate her nation, her continent and her company, all keys to creating more prosperity across Africa and beyond!