Bethlehem Alemu has proven once again that she is one of the Ethiopian entrepreneurs with the fastest growing company in the world, not only for founding the thriving shoe company, but also for breaking down barriers. with its specially crafted in-house coffee, currently serving the global market.
Coffee is believed to have originated in Ethiopia in the 15th century, and the country has since been recognized as the homeland of coffee, as people prepare and consume the drink in large quantities.
By creating his coffee brand, the Garden of Coffee in 2016, Alemu wanted other coffee lovers around the world to taste his country’s specially brewed coffee and his latest market is China, a population of tea lovers who is currently witnessing an increased demand for coffee. .
Alemu’s business uses the local manual bean picking method to source, process, roast and package the coffee. This method of processing coffee preserves the quality of the product for the end consumer while reducing the ecological footprint associated with factory roasting. It’s also a way to create a business model that values ââlocal manufacturing, Alemu said. Quartz.
Through an agreement with trading company Suzhou Reyto, Garden of Coffee is expected to ship 12 tons of hand-roasted coffee to China in the first five years and launch an advertisement on the messaging and social media app. we are chatting.
By 2022, the company hopes to have more than 100 coffee roasters across China and a subscription service that would allow customers to receive their favorite coffee within two to three weeks of ordering.
Currently, the Ethiopian company has around twenty workers in its Addis Ababa workshop in charge of production. The figure could rise to 300 by 2021 due to increased demand, Alemu said.
Ethiopia, one of the best places to grow coffee beans on the planet, is fifth in the world in terms of total production, according to statistics from the International Coffee Organization, with its product highly sought after around the world. because of its quality, and that’s what Alemu takes advantage of.
The global footwear brand icon recently opened the 22nd global store for its branded footwear, soleRebels, a footwear company considered one of the fastest growing companies in the world. Its story is one of resilience and determination.
Born in 1980 in one of Addis Ababa’s poorest neighborhoods, Alemu learned early on that there was no Ethiopian brand in the pool of companies that wanted to empower Ethiopians in the country.
âI was born here in Ethiopia and grew up here, so I saw the state of people – the way they lived and worked, and thought if I had a business (she) should pay a certain amount of money so that the employees can take care of themselves and their families, âshe told the CNN.
She founded soleRebels to provide strong jobs in the community. Before that, she was an accountant at one of Addis’ private companies. She made a plan and took $ 5,000 of her own money to set up a workshop.
Why shoes? According to Alemu:
âWe selected shoes because we saw that the shoes were a great platform to start sharing with the world many of the indigenous eco-responsible handcraft legacies and craftsmanship talents that we have here in Ethiopia! It also meant that, based on the approach we took to creating shoes – which were handcrafted and eco-responsible – we could source and manufacture almost ALL of our materials locally, creating a product of our own. export from 100% local inputs. “
The company has recreated and reimagined the “selate” and “barabasso” leather-soled shoes, the history of which dates back to the Battle of Adwa, which saw soldiers wearing these shoes fight the Italians, and beyond.
It would take him two years to create a suitable prototype; previous prototypes weigh six kilograms.
âThe shoes were very heavy because I didn’t know how to cut the tire. They looked really funny. I kept trying and trying to develop the perfect product, âshe told Forbes.
What sets soleRebels apart from others is its ethical nature as well as the combination of an ancient tradition of recycling and modern Ethiopian designs that have made it a hit with everyone, including vegans.
From a business that started in Alemu’s grandmother’s garden in Zenebework, soleRebels has grown to hire at least 100 employees and create at least 1,200 jobs.
With the new store opening in Hamburg to join others in Silicon Valley, Athens, Barcelona and Taiwan, Alemu is not stopping anytime soon. It wants to have 500 stores worldwide and a turnover of $ 1 billion by 2028.
Alemu also expanded his portfolio by venturing into other businesses including Garden of Coffee and The Republic of Leather, a bespoke leather company.
These societies, for Alemu, show that Ethiopians and Africans can control their narrative and shape their image without depending on outside forces interested in portraying the continent as needy and desolate.
Alemu has received accolades and awards across the world, including Face2face Africa’s FACE List Award for Entrepreneurship in 2014.
She was also named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum; listed as one of the most powerful women in the world by various organizations; and a PhD (Hons) in Commerce from Jimma University in Ethiopia.