‘…we never have and still don’t see an Africa that’s categorised by negative generalisations’ one company’s response to an oft asked question as to why anyone would ever consider trying to establish and run a successful business in Africa. Well footwear brand Oliberté, the company in question is attempting to do just that and are in good company if some of the inspirational and pioneering African businesses I have shared are anything to go by. Canadian social entrepreneur, Tal Dehtiar established Oliberté two years ago amidst the challenges of finding financial backers willing to help him realise his vision of a made in Africa brand.
[Image credit: Oliberté]
Profiled on CNN in February 2011, the footwear manufacturer presently operates in Ethiopia, Liberia and Kenya; and has set itself the goal of creating a successful premium made in Africa footwear brand; one that will not only create thousands of jobs by tapping into Africa’s growing middle-class – an acknowledgment of the widely accepted view that a thriving middle-class is a key component to the success of any country – but also one that will serve to encourage other businesses to do made in Africa work across the continent. Cameroon, Congo, Uganda and Zambia are in the company’s sights to expand into over the next few years as more factory and supplier partners are sought.
[Image credits: top, Rovia Men’s Trainer; bottom, Elika Ladies Trainer – Oliberté]
To achieve their goal Oliberté partners with carefully selected factories, suppliers, farmers and workers and embodies the values of: playing fair towards all those they work with, ensuring that they comply with Oliberté’s standards and policies, demonstrating respect and equity for all in the workplace – in all factories women make up 50% of the workforce, filling junior and senior positions. Oliberté’s values also include being mindful of the impact on the environment through waste reduction and various recycling initiatives, for example if you can’t reuse or recycle your unwanted Oliberté shoes send them back to the company who will gladly recycle them on you behalf; and lastly quality through the materials and production techniques used.
[Image credit: Andella Ladies Ballerina Pump – Oliberté]
Oliberté’s range of classic casual shoes and trendy trainers come in collections for both men and women and are made from hand-picked leathers, goat skin lining that helps the skin breathe naturally and natural rubber crepe soles tapped straight from rubber trees, minimising the use the of toxic equipment and chemicals. Relying on craftmanship the shoes are hand stitched or hand guided on machines to maintain the personal touch and can average 1000 stitches per shoe.
[Image credit: Narivo Men’s Loafer – Oliberté]
The leather looks incredibly soft and supple with colour ranges coming in standard black and brown complimented by vibrant reds, soft grey-blues, beiges and greens to name a few.
… may just be the thing to spoil your Dad with this Father’s Day.