Woman Crush Wednesday (WCW): Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

by Duke Magazine

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is an Ethiopian entrepreneur. She is the founder of soleRebels, Africa’s “fastest-growing footwear company”. Born in 1980, she has been at the fore of driving Africa’s paradigm shift from a stereotypical impoverished continent to a continent in the light of social and economic potential.

Alemu founded soleRebels in 2005 to provide ecologically and economically sustainable jobs for her community. The company has today grown to be an exporter of footwear to over 30 countries. Achieving fortunes from soleRebels, she also went on to launch two business outlooks, The Republic of Leather, which designs sustainable luxury leather goods, and Garden of Coffee retail outlets to promote Ethiopian coffees.

Alemu’s entrepreneurial move has been to challenge the traditional narrative about Africa and in particular, Ethiopia, and through her business acumen, soleRebels has been able to help in dispelling these old narratives, allowing Ethiopians to shape their international image.

In recognition of her exploits, and changing the face and fate of her country, Alemu is a recipient of honors and awards, notable of which is 2012 ForbesĀ ‘100 Most Powerful’ and profiled as a “Woman to Watch.”

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