Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, From the humblest of beginnings, has built soleRebels into the planet’s fastest growing African footwear brand.
She has created world class jobs, empowered her community and country while presenting a galvanized, dynamic face of African creativity to the global market.
A trailblazer in every respect, she has shifted the discourse on African development from one of poverty alleviation orchestrated by external actors, to one about prosperity creation driven by local Africans maximizing their talents and resources.
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 she saw that Ethiopia had plenty of charity brands but not a single global brand of its own.
So she set out to change all that. Tapping into her community’s and the nations rich artisan wealth and heritages, Bethlehem set about reimagining what footwear could be.
In early 2005, fresh out of college in Addis Ababa, Bethlehem founded the trailblazing footwear company soleRebels to provide solid community-based jobs. Flash forward five years, many shoes and hundreds of creative, dignified and well paying jobs later, 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!
Now hailed as the Nike of Africa, Tilahun Alemu is proud that soleRebels stands as living proof that creating innovative world-class brands is the best road to greater shared prosperity for developing nations like Ethiopia.
soleRebels emerges as the first African brand to become an international job creation powerhouse with its international stores forecasted to create over 600 jobs in the countries where they are located by end 2015 , proof that growth in Africa equals real global economic and jobs growth around the planet.
Tilahun Alemu represents the leading edge of a new generation of homegrown African leaders, talented entrepreneurs who are taking on the global market and winning on an unprecedented level.
She gives face and voice to what grassroots African-driven female economic leadership looks like , as she continues to elevate her nation, her continent and her company, all keys to creating more prosperity across Africa and beyond.