The arts, within entrepreneurship, have a significant ability to uplift the individual, create enterprises and jobs, support communities, honour culture and, critically, move economies forward.
(Image source: twitter.com/bethlehemalemu)
As the financial institution that positions itself as the bank for entrepreneurs, and as an enthusiastic patron of the arts, we acknowledge and honour creative yet practical, business-minded individuals who use their passion for music, design, the written word, painting or sculpture to grow successful careers or small enterprises.
Bethlehem Tiluhun Alemu, founder of SoleRebels
Bethlehem Tiluhun Alemu was born and raised in Zenebework, an impoverished community near Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa. Most of her fellow community members lived in poverty due to the high levels of unemployment, yet many possessed extraordinary artisan skills.
Sensing an opportunity to transform and uplift her home, Ms Alemu sourced start-up capital from her husband and immediate family, and, in 2004, SoleRebels was born.
Now sold in more than 30 countries around the globe, SoleRebels footwear is handcrafted using a blend of recycled materials and indigenous Ethiopian plants, ensuring the production process very eco-friendly. The unique shoes feature a strong Ethiopian cultural influence blended with a modern design, an aesthetic so popular that the shoes now rival well-known and coveted western brands, such as Nike and Reebok.
Founder Ms Alemu is just as celebrated as her brand: Among other accolades, she was declared Business Insider Magazine’s Top Entrepreneur in Africaand one of CEO.com’s Most Creative CEOs in 2013; and in 2012, FORBES Magazine named her as one of their World's 100 Most Powerful Women.