The Rebel and The Risk Taker – Part 2

A recent African Economic Outlook report revealed that 22% of the continent’s working age population is starting new businesses…The highest rate of any region in the world.

This is personified by two African entrepreneurs Ethiopian Bethlehem Alemu, founder of soleRebels, a footwear making company and Zambian Frazer Handondo, founder of Forest Africa, a company that produces eco-friendly briquettes.

These two entrepreneurs have created employment for their countrymen and at the same time solving issues that affect their respective societies.

soleRebels employees at work

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu started soleRebels in 2005; soleRebels makes hand crafted shoes which are revolutionizing the foot wear industry by use of local talent and authentic Ethiopian art. soleRebels was inspired by a simple Ethiopian flip-flop, which set the ball rolling for this company to step on to the global market.

SoleRebels continues to enjoy steady growth. The high demand for the handcrafted and eco-friendly footwear has catapulted Bethlehem onto the global stage. soleRebels’ products can be purchased on several international websites namely, Amazon, Endless, Javari, Amazon UK and the EU’s #1 online footwear retailer spartoo.com, these websites have helped open up new markets for their products to be purchased by an international audience.

SoleRebel’s shoes are unique in that they gave the person wearing them immense comfort, Betheleum calls them socks optional, whereby the person wearing the shoes doesn’t necessarily have to wear socks. The shoes are hand crafted thus making each and every pair unique on its own.

It’s not shoes that we make, it’s a piece of art because when those many people are involved in production it’s not simple, what people are actually putting on their foot is a piece of art,” says Bethlehem.

A shoe made by soleRebels.

Bethlehem loves, challenging herself to greater heights by trying out new ideas of creating new products for the soleRebels brand.

“We have more than 1,500 styles of products and we are going to continue developing new products, new looks, new fabric and follow the market,” says an upbeat Bethlehem.

These two entrepreneurs are driven by their passionate love for the African Continent and their visions of a better Africa.

Wildlife in Zambia

Zambia is famed for its natural beauty, drawing tourists from around the world and generating millions of dollars a year for the economy.

Frazer Handondo a Zambian entrepreneur formed Forest Africa out of a desire to make a difference to the environment. He has found a way to replace conventional charcoal, by producing eco-friendly briquettes.

Forest Africa employees packaging briquettes

Frazer’s product is for the local market; his vision is for Zambian’s to embrace his ideas if the country is to protect what has been taken for granted for too long.

But this will dramatically change because a Majority of Zambians depends on wood fuel of which charcoal is one of the major sources of energy that they have. So in terms of its impact, charcoal burning is posing a negative impact to the environment leading to massive deforestation.

Effects of massive deforestration

Experts warn that Zambian forests are declining at the rate of 250 000 ha a year, an alarming rate of deforestation. Efforts to curb the indiscriminate cutting down of trees, by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), have not been successful, due to the huge number of illegal charcoal traders who are cutting down trees indiscriminately.

There is a lot of talk around climate change; we cannot leave this fight to the government alone. As far as I am concerned, private citizens, should begin to take part,” Laments Frazer.

For Frazer, success has a very different appearance; his only wish is that the Country as a whole can protect what has been taken for granted for too long – The Zambian Forest.

I believe that if we begin to demonstrate to people that there is another way other than cutting down these trees, we believe that can then create a paradigm shift and can bring about a change in the way that we lead our lives,” says a hopeful Frazer

Forest Africa briquettes at work

 Slowly by slowly Frazer’s Idea is warming its self into Zambians lives, one briquette at a time.