Boosting Ethiopia’s economy, one shoe at a time

SoleRebels CEO Bethlehem TilahunAddis Ababa, Ethiopia - For Bethlehem Tilahun, the answer to ending poverty in Africa is not aid or sympathy or donations from the West. It’s shoes.

Specifically, building a successful shoe manufacturing business that creates jobs, empowers employees, like the one she founded SoleRebels, the first ever global footwear company to come out of a developing country.

“You don’t build your economy based on aid, you want to build your economy based on the way SoleRebels built its business, so that it’s sustainable,” Bethlehem told AFP.

SoleRebels highlights how burgeoning enterprises can transform economies across Africa.

By shifting away from a reliance on exporting raw materials to the production of premium products such as shoes, Africa can ease its dependency on aid and slowly move toward industrialised growth.

Founded in 2004, SoleRebels now employs around 150 Ethiopians producing shoes with hand-spun Ethiopian cotton, rubber and leather for export in over 65 stores around the world. Read more

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