Tyre Soled African Trainers Proving Popular in Europe
Bless the AFP for bringing us news of an Ethiopian shoemaker who’d like to give Nike a run for its money with the footwear she produces from recycled tyres and traditional woven fabric. Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, the news service reports, sees her eco-friendly "SoleRebels" shoes as Africa’s answer to the ‘just do it’ brand, and in her Addis Ababa (or should that be Adidas Ababa?) workshop 40 cobblers can be found at work on the product, turning out up to 200 pairs of shoes per day – solely for export.
The SoleRebels range, first launched in 2005, takes its name from the type of shoes favoured by Ethiopian rebel fighters during the country’s past. The line-up includes features trainers, sandals and open shoes, and the brand is sold in Europe and the United States.
“For a long time, used tyres have been used here to make traditional sandals, so I decided to take the idea and develop it in Ethiopian traditional factories using organic cotton and local leather,” said Alemu. “When I was young we were at war and rebels wearing that kind of sandals with used tyre soles were giving hope to people.
“We are confident that SoleRebels has the potential to become Africa’s Timberland, Adidas or Nike,” she added. The entrepreneur products earnings of around US$500,000 by next year. And what is good for Alemu is good for her employees – SoleRebels workers earn close to four times Ethiopia’s average monthly wage.