Vancouver Ethiopian Blog

Ethiopian life in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Meet Ethiopian Role Model Entrepreneur – Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Old truck tyres never die, they just turn into sandals

What do you do with your old tyre from your car or truck? Chances are you will throw it out in the garbage. No wait! Some one wants it! Yes, a young Ethiopian entrepreneur has made a carrier for herself, and 50 plus of her employees.

Meet an Ethiopian role model – Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu – who has combined the Internet’s selling power with nimble business practices more often associated with Asian countries, the idea has been turned into an unlikely international hit. Bethlehem, 30, quit her job as an accountant, to launch Sole Rebels.

Her company, Sole-Rebels, has received an International Fair Trade Certification. This means, she pays her employees decent wages, and follows labour codes. Even her employees have health benefit packages.

Bethlehm’s success has allowed her to expand and construct a solar-powered factory, adjacent to her old factory.

Her suppliers deliver old truck tyres and tubes to her factory; and she has hired women to spin, weave and dye locally-grown cotton, jute and hemp using skills passed down through generations. The results have been astonishing. Sole-Rebels thrived in the global market with no outside support, other than a government line of credit to help meet large orders.

Workers at Bethlehem’s SoleRebels factory — located in the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa — cut, sew and glue to fulfil Internet purchases from customers as far away as Canada and Australia.


Photo: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, co-founder of SoleRebels,
eco-friendly footwear company from Ethiopia, is highlighted
in this week’s CNN’s African Voices. (Screen shot from CNN)

Bethlehem has sold many thousands of pairs of handmade flip-flops, boat shoes, loafers and Converse-style trainers to foreign customers.

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June 3, 2010 Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Investments, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopian Parenting, Ethiopian Patriotism, Ethiopian Politics, Ethiopian Proverbs, Ethiopian Relationships, Ethiopian Religions, Ethiopian Socials, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments