Next Women List

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Nationality: Ethiopian
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Company details

Founder & Managing Director soleRebels

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is an Ethiopian entrepreneur and the founder of soleRebels, a thriving eco-sensitive footwear brand that has been hailed as Africa’s answer to brands such as Nike, Reebok and Adidas. 

soleRebels produces footwear which blends ancient Ethiopian design with modern, western influences. All soleRebel shoes are based on the famous Selate and Barabasso shoe, a traditional recycled tire sole shoe which was worn by Ethiopian rebel fighters who opposed western forces from colonizing the country (and inspired the company name). 

soleRebels has become a hugely successful, sustainable, truly world-class enterprise. soleRebels shoes are sold in over 30 countries around the world and Bethlehem estimates that revenues from their retail operations will hit the $10 million mark by 2016.

Bethlehem's awards include: 

  • ARISE MAGAZINE DYNAMIC 100 WOMEN List of remarkable women shaping modern Africa alongside Oprah Winfrey, Dambisa Moyo , Angelina Jolie 
  • FORBES Magazine World's 100 Most Powerful Women 2012 Woman to Watch 
  • Winner 2012 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award
  • FORBES Magazine 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa List
  • FORBES Magazine - Africa's Most Successful Women: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
  • New York City Venture Fellow (Mayor Michael Bloomberg)
  • 2011 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader [YGL]
  • Winner 2011 Legatum Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship 
  • Winner 2011 Most Valuable Entrepreneur Award Global Entrepreneurship Week 
  • Winner 2011 Outstanding African Business Woman, African Business Awards
  • 2010 Eco Bold award