Q & A: Bethlehem T. Alemu to Address the 2011 World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Founder of the green-footwear brand SoleRebels, has been invited to speak at this year's World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings in DC from Sept 23rd-25th, 2011. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will kick off their Annual Meetings in Washington D.C. later this month. According to the announcement, tentative schedule of events slated for September 23-25 include seminars, luncheons, and briefings exploring the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

On Saturday, September 24th, from 11:00am to 12:00pm, a panel discussion entitled “Africa Needs Growth That Delivers Jobs” will take place at the Wold Bank. Among the guests listed to address the panel include Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Founder of SoleRebels and one of the 2011 World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders. She was also recently named by Forbes magazine as one of ‘The 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa.’

“This is one of the key panels at this annual meeting and we wanted a very dynamic young African entrepreneur who has created jobs herself to give a real time business perspective,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice-President for Africa Region. “Bethlehem was top of our list. Her participation will inform the critical debate on inclusive growth in Africa and provide key insights for policy makers, development partners and other participants.”

“We are very excited to have her participating,” Ms. Ezekwesili said in a statement

We asked Bethlehem a few questions regarding her upcoming presentation:

TADIAS: What is your speech going to focus on?

Bethlehem: I have been asked to give a real time business perspective as an African entrepreneur who has created jobs, and I would like to focus on what the challenges have been and where I see opportunities lie. I will be drawing on my background to look at sustainable ways to create jobs, especially for Africa’s growing youth population.

TADIAS: Do you have a blueprint for change?

Bethlehem: Not sure about blueprint, but my hope is that I can be a catalyst for policy makers and development folks to add a key dimension to their thinking on job creation so that they understand that entrepreneurs, specifically grassroots entrepreneurs are the engine of job creation.

TADIAS: What’s your perspective on how Africa can achieve economic growth?

Bethlehem: I do strongly feel that finished goods, in particular branded finished goods, hold the seeds to economic development. Across the continent there is too much extraction and not enough finished products, which has historical roots. This can be addressed by looking at what grassroots entrepreneurs are doing. For example, there are huge opportunities for the continent in the area of digital commerce. As a continent we have been late out of the gate. Strong efforts need to be applied as there are immense opportunities in various fields. The bottom line is that African entrepreneurs can create world class brands. But they are drowned out by too many issues. My goal is to start unlocking that potential.

TADIAS: How can the Diaspora participate?

Bethlehem: The Diaspora is key. They are investors, entrepreneurs, and the market for made-in-Africa products. They are also ambassadors of these brands in their respective countries. The way I look at it is that the Diaspora and the motherland are one. And if we function as one, we will then increase both our prosperity and visibility on the global stage.

TADIAS: Thank you, Bethlehem, and wishing you continued success!

Bethlehem: As always thanks to Tadias. Your wonderful readers have shown us so much love over the years. Its been inspiring to receive that.

You can learn more about the The 2011 World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings at www.IMF.org.

Related stories:
Bethlehem Alemu Among The 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa
Ethiopia’s Global Shoe Brand SoleRebels Goes Online

Watch: Turning old tires into shoes (7:10)

Video: Young SoleRebel (8:07)

Video: Creating window to world market (7:24)

3 Responses to “Q & A: Bethlehem T. Alemu to Address the 2011 World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings”

  1. 1 Jegnaw Sep 10th, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Good topic. Beth, you’re energy is inspiring. Keep up the good work!

  2. 2 Aida Mulugeta Sep 10th, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Dear Tadias,

    We would love to invite Bethlehem as a keynote speaker at an Entrepreneurs conference in Atlanta in 2012. How can I get in touch?


  3. 3 DJ Sep 10th, 2011 at 1:47 pm


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