President Clinton has invited the founder of soleRebels footwear brand to be one of the panellists at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting on 22 September, in New York City.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu becomes the first African entrepreneur to be invited in this yearly event. She will join with other top attendees like US First Lady Michelle Obama, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, former Heads of State, CEOs, philanthropists, leaders of NGOs, academicians and prominent members of the media (follow the link to see featured attendees).
Clinton Global Initiative is a non-partisan initiative set-up in 2005 by the William J. Clinton Foundation, founded and chaired by former US president Bill Clinton. This initiative meets annually to bring together top global leaders from various backgrounds to discuss the world’s most pressing problems, identify successful responses to the problems, seek best new solutions, and require each member to make a specific commitment to action.
Hailed as the creator of African Nike (see The Independent article), Bethlehem’s invitation marks a historic milestone for Ethiopia and Africa. “I hope to offer new insights like how we have constructed our supply chain for our business, with a focus on indigenous production techniques, and local and recycled materials. I also want to emphasize that a company like ours can build scaleable community based businesses that allow people to have well paid jobs, while creating market-leading products and preserving the environment,” says Bethlehem.
Bethlehem plans to grab this opportunity to share her experience in Fair Trade. “Everyone today is concerned about reducing carbon footprints, which is great. But at soleRebels we also believe that people around the world want much more from the brands they are buying. They want to see that the company that makes the products cares as much about the people who made the products as they do about reducing carbon footprints. We believe in preserving the environment plus genuine concern for workers. This is real style, and something that never goes out of fashion!”
Hosted by President Clinton, the CGI meeting will run from 20 to 23 September in New York City. This year’s meeting will tackle four areas: Empowering Girls and Women, Strengthening Market-Based Solutions, Enhancing Access to Modern Technology, and Harnessing Human Potential. Bethlehem will participate in the ‘Supply Chains of Opportunity’ breakout session under Market-Based Solutions. The session will address ‘the concept that large corporations can no longer afford to extract resources and source inputs without concern for the people and places to which they are connected via global supply chains.’
First Lady Michelle Obama will join President Clinton in the closing plenary session on 23 September.
soleRebels was founded in 2005 by Bethlehem, 30-year old Ethiopian woman entrepreneur, together with her brother and husband. Since its founding the company has rapidly established itself as Africa’s leading footwear brand. It has its production based in Addis Ababa.
The company uses hand loomed and hand-woven fabrics, produced by marginalised workers and sub-contractors in the communities of Addis Ababa, many of whom are women with traditional handcrafting skills.
soleRebels’ company [bostex plc] is accredited by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). It is the first Fair Trade footwear company on the planet. Their footwear products are being sold in the US and European markets, as well as, in Japan through its sister company soleRebels Japan.
In August 2010, soleRebels bested dozens of footwear brands in the USA and was awarded the 2010 Green Award by EcoBold Award in the footwear category. The company has captured global interest and featured in various international media, including The Guardian, CNN, and Discovery Channel.
For more information contact:
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, managing director
soleRebels [bostex plc] box 21033
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251-0911-11 08 48