The past few years have seen a rise in the number of women-owned businesses in Africa. Be it in IT, oil, mining, or in the aviation sector, female entrepreneurs are breaking gender stereotypes and showing that what a man can do, a woman can also do, if not better. Bold and fearlessly ambitious, these are some of the female business leaders who shape the future of the continent and inspire not only countless other women, but also anyone who dares to dream.
Among the list Ethiopian shoe maker Bethelem Tilahun is one of them.Growing up in a small neighbourhood in Addis Ababa, beloved entrepreneur Bethlemen Tilahun Alemu discovered that most people in her community were living in poverty and that some of them possessed artisan skills. Spurred by this realisation, she sought to find a way to translate the skills of her people into a business, and thus SoleRebels was born, in 2004. The eco-friendly footwear manufacturer creates hundreds of local jobs.
Not only has Bethlehem’s company grown to be one of the largest footwear companies in Africa, but it has also become a successful world class venture, with flagship stores in Taiwan, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, U.S, Singapore, Japan and many other countries.
Bethlehem has received a number of accolades for the work she has done to empower the Ethiopian youth with opportunities. In 2011, the 36-year-old entrepreneur made it into the World Economic Forum’s list of Young Global Leaders. She’s also been named by Forbes as one of 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa, and one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.