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Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu        

Founder & CEO of Solerebels; Promoter of Africa's Entrepreneurial Spirit, Social Capital, & Economic Potential

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is Founder and Managing Director of soleRebels, the world's fastest-growing African footwear brand and first to emerge from a developing nation; it is also the first WFTO Fair Trade-certified footwear company. It has flourished with distribution to thirty countries worldwide, selling to market kingmakers Whole Foods, Urban Outfitters and Amazon. Through soleRebels, Tihahun Alemu has created hundreds of well-paid jobs in Ethiopia that have not only empowered her community and country, but has presented a dynamic face of African creativity to the global market. In 2016 the company sold 125,000 pairs of shoes and it had created 1,200 jobs.

In 2014, Alemu announced a new business venture, The Republic of Leather, via a blog post on the soleRebels website. Alemu identified the luxury leather goods industry as being "ripe for a total re-imagining," along similar lines to what she had accomplished with soleRebels and the footwear industry. Besides espousing the same ideals of ecological and economic sustainability as soleRebels, The Republic of Leather is centered on principles of customer choice—customer choice of design, producer and receiving charity of 5% of the price they pay. In 2017, "Garden of Coffee" was added to her companies. It begins with outlets in Addis Ababa.

Alemu has received honors and accolades for her business acumen, as well as her efforts to shift the discourse on Africa away from poverty to the continent's entrepreneurial spirit, social capital, and economic potential.

Tilahun Alemu was the first female African entrepreneur to address the Clinton Global Initiative and was named Outstanding African Business Woman by African Business Awards in 2011. She was listed on Forbes magazine's 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa in 2011 and named one of Africa's Most Successful Women in 2012. In 2014 Alemu was named as one of CNN's "12 Female Entrepreneurs Who Changed the Way We Do Business." In 2019, Alemu was invited to speak at Fortune Most Power Women International.

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