SoleRebels: Revolutionizing the culture of business, one step at a time

By Bridget Boynton

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – In the busy-iness of our world today, how often do we stop to think about where the products we buy came from? As globalization continues to occur at an unprecedented rate, we have more access to goods from other places than ever before.

Yet, the ease with which we can obtain these goods makes it likewise easy for us to ignore the history behind them. Many of the products we buy with labels saying “Made in X” start, in reality, as raw material which is then shipped and processed in a multitude of places, with only one of these places receiving credit for the whole process. This also puts into question the authenticity of the products we buy. Every marketer wants their products to  represent authenticity, originality, and sustainability. However, there are far too many companies out there willing to risk achieving any of these ideals in order to make money.

A footwear company in Ethiopia is at the forefront of changing all this. What started out as a young woman’s dream of giving back to her community has turned into a global business of providing the highest quality footwear to people around the world while empowering Ethiopian artisans and changing the culture of international business.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, creator of the soleRebels brand of footwear, grew up in Zenabwork, Addis Ababa, where she noticed the struggle of her fellow community members to find job opportunities that allowed them to express their many talents and skills. Knowing that a change was needed, Bethlehem took action and decided to start a shoe business to alleviate job scarcity in her community and create a company firmly rooted in Ethiopian traditions with an international appeal.Read more

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