Oliberté is a Canada-based premium footwear company that does its manufacturing in Africa with the goal of building a middle class through the creation of fair-paying jobs. In fact, many development theories are premised on the idea that a thriving middle class is an essential factor to both economic and social development. Oliberté‘s explicit goal is to create fair jobs that promote the creation of a strong middle class in Africa—a class that currently does not exist.
By creating essential partnerships with African factories, Oliberté ensures that everyone involved maintains ethical and fair practices. Women consist of roughly half of all employees, even the administrative positions. Furthermore, by offering benefits like free or subsidized lunches, tea breaks and maternity leave, Oliberté goes beyond what most other factories are doing in the region. The factories use safe equipment and chemicals, as well as leather that is sourced from free-range and hormone-free livestock. Interestingly, Oliberté isn’t looking to gloss over the challenges the company faces. When outlining its environment practices on its website, Oliberté states that its greatest environmental challenge is flying the footwear out of the African countries. Nonetheless, they are looking to switch to a greener method by the end of 2011.
Footwear fanatics, like Selectism and Hypebeast, are fawning over Oliberté—and not just for the urban design and laid-back style, but also for its socially-conscious practices. Oliberté has operations in Kenya, Liberia and Ethiopia, but hopes to expand to Zambia, Cameroon, Congo and Uganda in the future, in order to really hold true to its slogan “This is Africa.” Oliberté footwear is sold in Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Finland, the United States and also online.
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