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Worker-Focused Shoe Companies

'soleRebels' was Founded to Create Jobs in Ethiopian Communities

— November 4, 2011 — Social Good
Based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 'soleRebels' is a sustainable footwear company that has ethical business practices embedded into its model. The company puts its workers first and respects the environment through recycling and local organic materials.

Interestingly, soleRebels is an African family business with a global scope. Many fashion social businesses still rely on a one-way relationship between producer and consumer, a relationship that can often replicate the global inequalities that exist. Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, the founder of soleRebels, started the company in 2004 as a way to create jobs in her own community. On average, the company offers wages that are three times the industry average wage for similar work and four times the legal minimum wage. In addition to proud wages, soleRebels offers free medical checks, 100% medical coverage for its workers, transportation for workers with disabilities, no quota system and community initiatives that invest in where it matters most.

Essentially, soleRebels is a novel idea -- and one that's ostensibly so simple, but not replicated often enough. soleRebels uses locally sourced and produced materials, making all inputs 100% local.

"This allowed us to riff, recreate, and re-imagine the traditional 'selate' and 'barabasso' shoes, a recycled car tire soled shoe that has existed in Ethiopia for a LONG time," says Alemu. "In fact, it was THE footwear from back in the day when the ORIGINAL 'soleRebels' fought off the invading forces and kept Ethiopia as the only African nation to never be colonized!"

soleRebels takes into account preserving the cultural background from which it emanates by coupling traditional craft production with contemporary design.

soleRebels incorporates designs that are appreciated by people around the world, which has allowed it to be an export brand, and ultimately, create more jobs and more job security within Ethiopian communities. And the international community, too, has noticed: soleRebels is the world's only WFTO Fair Trade certified footwear company.

Contact Information:
soleRebels Footwear Website
soleRebels Footwear (Head Office & Factory)
BOX 21033
Addis Ababa

soleRebels Canada
PO Box 385
Tillsonburg Ontario
N4G 3K7

Telephone: 1-855-LUV-SOLE
soleRebels on Facebook
soleRebels on Twitter