During the last couple of years, female-owned businesses had grown across the African continent, proving that gender stereotypes do not apply any longer.
Women had made headway in aviation, fashion, IT, security, mining, oil, farming and manufacturing to name but a few, previously considered male only domains. They create bespoke liquor, run wine farms and work towards keeping the planet greener than ever before.
With National Women’s Month nearing the end of August, we laud these fearless and ambitious entrepreneurs for their vision and the way they are shaping the future for the next generation of women and youths.
Ethiopia’s Bethlemen Tilahun Alemu grew up in a poor environment, where many artisans with talent resided. This young woman’s dream became reality with the establishment of SoleRebels, showcasing the skills and abilities of her neighbourhood.
SoleRebels manufactures made-to-order eco-friendly footwear, providing sustainable employment for hundreds of locals. Her business had been awarded many national and international awards and had seen Alemu named one of 20 Power Women in Africa by the prestigious Forbes organisation. Her name also features prominently among the World’s 100 most powerful women and she is a proud member of the world Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders.
The team recycles tires and adds to it one of Ethiopia’s best known products, cotton, to create bespoke footwear which is a unique blend of tradition and innovation. Traditionally known as ‘barabasso’ (Ethiopian recycled tire) shoes, the products reflect the motto of SoleRebels, driven by ethical production, maximum comfort and sustainable materials.
From a dream to improve the lives of her community, SoleRebels had branched into a highly revered world-class venture with stores in many countries. As an international brand, it features not only eco-friendly men’s and ladies’ unique footwear, but also sneakers while caring for the earth in a fashionable way.
Bethlemen had never forgotten her original reason – empowering her community with its unique talents to overcome poverty and lack. SoleRebels pays her staff three times that of the industry, adding many additional benefits for their families. Only green, ethically and organically grown products are used, as beautiful as the heart of this very special woman.
Julian Adyeri Omalla from Uganda is another African trendsetter and green entrepreneur involved in farming, baking, real estate and agro-forestry.
Delight (U), produces fruit juices under the brand name Cheers and while producing more than 12 000 litres of juice per day, made from orchard fruits and seedlings, this product also boasts happy consumers in neighbouring countries such as South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
With 1 440 acres of land in the Senge Wakiso, Nwoya andTororo districts, the acreage is also used for flour milling and poultry feed processing, ensuring optimal use of available space. High quality and improved seedlings of mango, guava, citrus, oranges, lemons and passion fruit seedlings are grown as plans to increase production are coming to fruition.
Taking corporate and social responsibility very seriously, not only are many farmers educated and supported, but agro-forestry trees are planted. Cheers also supports many charities, schools, football clubs and churches and is involved in various community development endeavours.
Today, Delight (U) is promoting agribusiness for a better livelihood and reducing poverty in Uganda, provides agri-business entrepreneurs with education to source finance and grow their businesses. And if she is not busy enough, Julian leads in the advocacy of women’s rights and economic empowerment in Uganda and was awarded the Commonwealth Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 – it could not have gone to a more deserving person!
What else is there to say to Julian but CHEERS!