Bethlehem Alemu quit her day job in 2005 and founded SoleRebels; a shoe company that is big on using recycled material and scraps of rubber to create their products.
Today, Alemu’s shoes are being sold worldwide by bigger companies such as Amazon, Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods. In 2016 alone, over 120,000 pairs of shoes were sold.
Alemu founded SoleRebels feeling she had to do something about the poverty and unemployment in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Growing up in Ethiopia Alemu saw the way people went about their everyday lives and decided that if she owned a company, she would make sure employees would be able to care for themselves and their families.
Since the company’s opening, about 1,200 jobs have been created. By the end of 2018 SoleRebels hopes to have over 3,000 full-time employees.
Recently, Ethiopia’s economy has been experiencing strong growth and Alemu hopes to aid in that growth by launching a coffee business.
Garden of Coffee will open in Addis Ababa and customers can watch local coffee beans being roasted and ground.
According to Alemu, Garden of Coffee allows customers to “experience the magic of hand-roasted Ethiopian coffees roasted at their source by Ethiopia’s finest coffee artisans.”
Alemu hopes to open three shops in Addis Ababa before expanding to the United States and Europe.
She expressed that both SoleRebels and Garden of Coffee show how resourceful Ethiopia can be.