Bethlehem founded soleRebels when she saw skilled artisans in her community in Zenebework living with chronic unemployment. soleRebels allows them to showcase their skills and provides sustainable jobs. Since it opened in 2005, soleRebels has flourished. The company has grown to 300 employees in Ethiopia, and products are distributed to 30 countries worldwide, including through Whole Foods, Urban Outfitters, and Amazon. The company plans to open franchise and company-owned stores in Austria, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the UK.
Creating well-paying jobs to help her community and her country prosper has always been at the heart of Bethlehem’s entrepreneurial ventures. Through soleRebels, she’s able to employ artisans and natural resources to do just that, as well as promote Ethiopia by creating and selling the traditional recycled tire-sole shoe style, known locally as the seleate or barabasso. By 2016, soleRebels had sold 125,000 pairs of shoes and created 1,200 jobs.