From Africa To Asia: SoleRebels Opens Maiden Store In Taiwan

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VENTURES AFRICA – Celebrated African entrepreneur and CEO of Ethiopian footwear company, SoleRebels, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, has opened the company’s firs stand-alone store in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city.

The opening of the store anchors the company in Asia, which has a booming retail footwear market. With three more outlets expected to be opened at the end of 2012, SoleRebels plans to open about 30 outlets in Taiwan.

Commenting on the development Alemu said: “We are extremely excited by this store opening. Taiwan is an incredible market and the stores we are opening here give us a fantastic platform to showcase our incredible products and our innovative brand in an equally dynamic and fantastic market. This is the perfect place for soleRebels to anchor our Asia wide roll-out of soleRebels stores – truly historic strides for soleRebels,”

Presently, there are more than 500 unique soleRebels sandals, slip-ons and lace-ups offered at the store at an average price range of $50 to $95.

The newly opened store has a lounge area that allows customers to learn more about the brand’s heritage and the unique artisan production techniques. Customers are encouraged to upload photos of themselves wearing their soleRebels shoes to the company’s website and are rewarded for doing so with a free soleRebels T-shirt.

SoleRebels projects the company’s global retail roll-out which seeks to add $15-20 million in revenue by 2015.

Bethlehem is one of Ethiopia most successful entrepreneurs. She was recently featured alongside Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of LEGO Group in the first episode of a new BBC World News series programme, The Ideas Exchange,which premiered on September 1 .

The pioneering venture began with the production of SoleRebels in Zenabwork, a small village on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia in 2005 as a means of creating jobs for the people in her community by turning their unexploited artisan skill of the community to a worldwide eco-sensible product. 7 years down the line, she has achieved that and more as SoleRebels has become an international brand and the world’s first Fair Trade certified footwear brand.