Bethlehem Tilahun AlemuFounder & CEO of soleRebels Footwear
Technology, Culture, Business,
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“ My driving passions are sharing Ethiopian cultures with the world, and finding exciting ways to keep these cultures vibrant and fully relevant. My goal is to build exciting brands around these unique cultures, brands that become as ubiquitous and impactful as APPLE…”
– Bethlehem tilahun alemu
“soleRebels, and its founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, are not only an inspiration to so many other women entrepreneurs and brand builders in Africa, but the shoes and designs produced are truly world-class, bang on trend, unique and authentic. They get people talking about, and loving Africa for all the right reasons.” —
–Melanie Hawken, LoA founder & editor-in-chief
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is a globally acclaimed serial entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of soleRebels, the world’s fastest-growing African footwear brand and the only WFTO Fair Trade footwear company in the world. She is also the founder & creator of Republic of Leather a super cool new company that is changing the way people around the world buy & love luxury leatherwear.
And just as she changed the way the world enjoys shoes and leather she is about to do the same for another beloved Ethiopian gift to the world, COFFEE, via her brand Garden of Coffee which launched in July 2016 and which CNN MONEY is hailing as Africa’s answer to Starbucks!
She is the founder of perimeter consulting which provides strategic consulting services. Under perimeter she created, launched and leads Made By Ethiopia, a groundbreaking public-private partnership that is transforming the entire dynamic of Ethiopia’s footwear and leather export sector’s, creating over 100,000 new job opportunities and over $1 billion USD in export revenue .
She has recently launched GIZA digital, a revolutionary payment and ecommerce platform that aims to transform Ethiopia by creating tens of thousands of digital entrepreneurs.
Growing up in a poor suburb of Addis Ababa, Bethlehem decided that there was only one way to defeat poverty and create lasting prosperity – use local craftsmanship to make world-class products that can compete and win in the global marketplace. She decided on footwear and today tens of thousands of pairs of shoes leave soleRebels factory every year. soleRebels has been expanding rapidly and today exports to no fewer than 45 countries and is targeting 50 stand alone soleRebels retail stores across the United States by 2020 and 500 worldwide by 2023/24.
- She is the first African entrepreneur to address The WHITE HOUSE Leaders Summit at the invitation of the President and First Lady and the first female African entrepreneur to address the Clinton Global Initiative
- Outstanding African Business Woman by African Business Awards and is the 2016 AABLA CNBC FORBES Business Woman of The Year
- On June 22nd 2016 Bethlehem made history by becoming the first ever-African entrepreneur to ever address the General Assembly at the United Nations Global Leaders Summit.
- CNN named Bethlehem one of the 12 greatest female entrepreneurs of the last century, alongside Coco Chanel and Sara Blakely, calling her “an entrepreneur who has redefined markets for her ground-breaking influence”
- FORBES Magazine listed her on their World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list – Woman to Watch
- Fast Company named her one of The Most Creative People in Business 1000.
- Bethlehem is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader [YGL]
- Named by President George W. Bush as his organization’s Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Ambassador.
- Serves as the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship
Selected Honors & Awards:
- FORBES Magazine World’s 100 Most Powerful Women
- FORBES Magazine: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu Bringing Ethiopian Entrepreneurship To The World.
- FORBES Magazine Africa’s Most Successful Woman
- 2016 AABLA CNBC FORBES Business Woman of The Year
- FORBES Magazine Africa’s Top Five Most Successful Women
- World Economic Forum Young Global Leader [YGL]
- NEW YORK TIMES: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu- Women Entrepreneurs Drive Growth in Africa
- QUARTZ MAGAZINE: Africa’s 30 Leading Innovators along with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , AKON , Trevor Noah , Lupita Nyongo and Didier Drogba
- FACE Award Winner 2014 alongside Mo Ibrahim & Alek Wek
- One Young World Counselor alongside fellow Counselors Kofi Annan UN Secretary General, Nobel Prize Winning economist Mohammad Yunus , Media Magnate Arianna Huffington and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
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