SECTOR: Fashion (Eco-sensitive footwear brand)
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is an Ethiopian businessperson, founder, and executive director of soleRebels. It is one of Africa’s, “fastest-growing footwear companies”.
Alemu has been recognized for her commercial acumen as well as her efforts to move the focus of Africa’s conversation away from poverty and toward the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit, social capital, and economic potential. She founded “The Republic of Leather,” a company that creates sustainable luxury leather goods, and “Garden of Coffee,” a chain of Ethiopian coffee shops.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu: EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu was born in the Zenebework area of Addis Ababa on 26 January 1980. She is the eldest child of four siblings, her parents worked at a local hospital. Alemu attended public primary and secondary schools, and then went on to study accounting at Unity University, graduating in 2004.
Alemu started making shoes in her grandmother’s home in Ethiopia. SoleRebels is an eco-friendly footwear company that was founded in 2004 in the Bole area of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Alemu wanted to create a manufacturing company in Ethiopia that would benefit her community. All materials used for footwear are recycled or are sourced locally. The footwear created includes sandals, slip-ons, lace-up shoes, winter boots, and sneakers.
She founded Perimeter Consulting, which provides strategic consulting services. Under Perimeter Consulting, she created, launched, and leads Made by Ethiopia, a premium duty-free footwear manufacturer. She worked for various apparel and leather companies while in university, where she developed a deeper knowledge of marketing, sales, design, and production.
The Republic of Leather was launched in 2015 in Ethiopia, where she designs sustainable luxury leather goods. It creates hand-made leather items for its customers and has a store in Silicon Valley with production taking place in Addis Ababa. The Republic of Leather is run according to WFTO Fair Trade production. All the leather used is free-range. Customers who purchase Republic of Leather goods can designate which organization or cause five percent of the purchase price will be donated to.
Growing up, Alemu witnessed her mother’s brewing artistry, which exposed her to how coffee is made and led her to launch Garden of Coffee. The coffee is roasted in Ethiopia by Ethiopian coffee artisans. Garden of Coffee uses indigenous coffee artisan techniques that have been passed down generationally. The company was first launched in July 2016 in the Bole area of Addis Ababa.
She launched NoodFoods on 11 July 2018, a franchise business that uses locally sourced fruits and vegetables to create snacks. It aims to elevate the snacking experience of fruit and veggie chips. This brand also trains youth members on how to set up and run their own company.
Alemu recently launched GIZA digital, a payment and eCommerce platform.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in the year 2011, a “Woman to Watch” by Forbes in the year 2012, one of Africa’s Top 5 Female Entrepreneurs by Business Insider in the year 2012, a New York City Venture Fellow by Bloomberg in the year 2012,
In addition, one of the “100 Dynamic Women” shaping modern Africa by Arise Magazine in the year 2012.
The United Nations Environment Program invited her as a counselor at the One Young World summit and to join the advisory team of the Green Industry Platform.
Besides being invited by Bill Clinton as a speaker at the Clinton Global Initiatives panel, she was given a distinct honor in 2011 by the then World Bank president, Mrs. Okonjo Iweala, and was the first female entrepreneur to ever get the invitation.
In 2014, CNN named her as one of the “12 Female Entrepreneurs Who Changed the Way We Do Business.”
Alemu was named the Most Influential Person of African Descent (MIPAD) by Global List at the World Economic Forum on Africa in South Africa on 5 May 2017.
The African Leadership Magazine nominated Alemu as African Female Leader of the Year 2017. Alemu was listed under The Choiseul 100 as One of Africa’s 100 Top Young Economic Leaders, in 2018.
She was listed as one of the 25 Most Influential DOers and Shakers in Purposeful Retail, by The DO School on the 21st of May 2019. She was also named on the Inaugural List of 100 Most Influential African Women in 2019 by Avance Media.
According to Wikipedia, Google, Forbes, and various reliable online sources, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu’s estimated net worth is estimated in 2021 to be $1 Million to $6 Million.
(Wikipedia, disrupting Africa, Forbes)