How an African Woman Built A Million Dollar Business by Helping The Less Privileges

Success can come in many ways, but some people’s own came in such an inspiring way. One of those people is Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, an Ethiopian entrepreneur.

She only set out to help the poor in her community but ended up building a million dollar Business Empire while at it. Her shoe brand is leading in Africa, and she also distributes to over 30 countries within and outside Africa. She distributes to Japan, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Singapore and more.

How Did She Do It?

After she graduated from the University, she picked interest in shoe making. She named her footwear brand Solerebels. Tilahun Alemu used recycled tyres for the soles of her foot wears. In a way, she was cleaning up the environment.

She Continued Non-stop

In as much as using recycled tyres for her sole production was a cheap source, it wasn’t a clean job to do and I believe many women in community wouldn’t even dream of doing what she did. But there was an advantage to her and the society which was in a way helping to clean up her community and be able to make affordable shoes that even the less privileges can have access to.

She continued non-stop, and in a space of about nine (9) years, she grew from a business with just five (5) employees to the one with over one hundred and twenty (120) people. Her Solerebels brand sells on Amazon, Whole foods, and Urban Outfitters. With partnership with foreign brands, she now has a combined stores of over eighteen (18) operating worldwide.

Also read: To Find out Why Passion is Over-rated.

The Republic of Leather

She announced the launching of her new business ‘The Republic of Leather’ in 2014. According to her, the new business would focus on high quality luxury leather goods which are also made from recycled materials in the environment.


  • Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum 2011.
  • “Woman to Watch” by Forbes 2012.
  • One of Africa’s Top 5 Female Entrepreneurs by Business Insider 2012.
  • A New York City Venture Fellow by Bloomberg 2012.
  • One of the “100 Dynamic Women” shaping modern Africa by Arise Magazine 2012.
  • Invited as a counsellor at the One Young World summit and to join the advisory team of the Green Industry Platform by the United Nations Environment Program.
  • Invitation by Bill Clinton as a speaker at the Clinton Global Initiatives panel.
  • A Distinct honour by the then World Bank president, Mrs Okonjo Iweala in 2011. (The first female entrepreneur to ever get the invitation).
  • One of the “12 Female Entrepreneurs Who Changed The Way We Do Business” by CNN 2014.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu saw an opportunity at the time that it wasn’t obvious and capitalized on it. In the process, she produced value and as a result became irresistible to the world.

Word: You can never be resistible to the world for as long as you produce value, and it doesn’t matter your background. – E. Jay Ipheghe.

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