July 29, 2012 in Daily Bulletin
The BBC took a look at the first Fairtrade green footwear firm in the world:
- In 2004 Ethiopia’s Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu began to sell colourful shoes made of recycled materials such as car tyres.
- She started a company, soleRebels, which soon grew to sell its products in 55 countries. Austria, Canada, Japan, Switzerland and the US are its biggest markets.
- The company started with less than $10,000. This year it is on track to having sales of $2 million, and by 2016 it hopes to breach $20 million.
- The company has 75 full-time employees, and being a Fairtrade firm, pays them up to four times Ethiopia’s average wage. It also relies on more than 200 local suppliers.
- The shoes are all locally made, from locally sourced materials. soleRebels is able to produce 800 pairs of shoes a day.
- Forbes has listed soleRebels’ owner as one of Africa’s most successful women.
To read more including where in Ethiopia the company was founded, how the company managed to raise the initial $10,000, what inspired the idea for the company, the inspiration for the designs, why they are selective about the retailers they work with, the unfair practices of some foreign companies, the award she won from the World Economic Forum, and the company’s future plans, click here.