Meet the Boss: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, MD, soleRebels (Ethiopia)

‘Meet the Boss’ is a How we made it in Africa interview series, where we pose the same 10 questions to business leaders across the continent.

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Managing Director, soleRebels (Ethiopia)

1. What was your first job?

Cannot remember.

2. Who has had the biggest impact on your career and why?

My husband. My husband is supporting me all the way … He is mentoring me every day.

3. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?

The economic situation of the world. When is the next order going to come? And from where? Those are the questions all the time. When you’ve got one [order], you are expecting the next one.

4. What are the top reasons why you have been successful in business?

Because I’m passionate and love what I’m doing.

5. What are the best things about Ethiopia?

The culture and the weather.

6. And the worst?

I cannot say.

7. Your future career plans?

I’m not going to change my career for the next ten years maybe.

8. How do you relax?

With my family. With my children. Going around seeing places.

9. What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?

Love what you are trying to do. If you don’t like what you are doing you are not going to be successful.

10. How can Africa realise its full potential?

We [need to] start focusing on small and medium businesses, because they are the big engines of the economy. People … just need an opportunity, so we need to give them an opportunity to grow big with their ideas.

soleRebels is an Ethiopian-based footwear company with customers across the world. All products are handmade in Ethiopia. The company was named as one of the five finalists of the prestigious 2011 Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship.