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Entrepreneurs and Ideas

Who is an ‘Entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is that fellow who, rather than working as an employee, runs a small business and assumes all the risks and rewards of a given business venture, idea, or good or service offered for sale. An entrepreneur is a business leader and innovator of new ideas and business processes.

Entrepreneurs play a key role in any economy. These are the people who have the skills and initiative necessary to improve any economy. The reward for taking the risk is the potential economic profits the entrepreneur could earn.

Yes, I know that’s hard. It’s a lot of work. And that, folks, are what makes entrepreneurship so friggin’ hard. And so friggin’ necessary. What can I say, that’s life. Besides, look on the bright side: You get to do what you want and you get to do it your way. There’s just one catch. You’ve got to start somewhere. Ideas and opportunities don’t just materialize out of thin air.

The only way I know to get started is by learning a marketable skill and getting to work. In my experience, that’s where the ideas, opportunities, partners, and finances always seem to come from. Sure, it also takes an enormous amount of hard work, but that just comes with the territory.

If you want to do entrepreneurship right, let me share the story of an African lady you’ve probably never heard about, her name is Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, 34, grew up in Zenabwork, a poor village in the suburbs of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

She came up with her business idea after she noticed most of the artisans in her community, who made beautiful footwear, remained jobless and poor.

Today, her company, SoleRebels, is one the most popular and fastest growing African footwear brand in the world! It sells its ‘eco-friendly’ brand of footwear in more than 50 countries including the USA, Canada, Japan and Switzerland.

SoleRebels’ footwear is unique because it is 100 percent made by hand using locally-sourced and recycled materials like old car tyres and hand-loomed organic fabrics.

A few years ago, SoleRebels became the first footwear company in the world to be certified by the World Fair Trade Organization.

By using local craftsmen, Bethlehem has built a global brand and a hugely successful business that has created jobs and improved livelihoods in her local community.

She started SoleRebels in 2004 with less than $10,000 in capital she raised from family members. Today, the company has more than 100 employees and nearly 200 local raw material suppliers, and has opened several standalone retail outlets in North America, Europe and Asia.

Despite its very humble beginnings, SoleRebels now makes up to $1 million in sales every year, and according to her projections and expansion plans, the company could be making up to $10 million in sales by the end of this year (2016).

Buoyed by her success with SoleRebels, She recently launched Republic of Leather, a new business that trades in luxury leather products like bags, belts and other non-footwear leather accessories.

Bethlehem was selected as the Young Global Leader of the Year 2011 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and was a winner at the Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship in the same year. Bethlehem and her inspiring success story with SoleRebels have been featured severally on Forbes, the BBC and CNN.

As an entrepreneur, the sky is your limit. You can achieve anything you want! We can all be Bethlehem, start thinking and creating…

See you at the top!

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