Posts filed under ‘Export’
By Jenny VAUGHAN
For Bethlehem Tilahun, the answer to ending poverty in Africa is not aid or sympathy or donations from the West. It’s shoes.
Specifically, building a successful shoe manufacturing business that creates jobs, empowers employees, like the one she founded Ä
SoleRebels, the first ever global footwear company to come out of a developing country.
“You don’t build your economy based on aid, you want to build your economy based on the way SoleRebels built its business, so that it’s sustainable,” Bethlehem told AFP.
SoleRebels highlights how burgeoning enterprises can transform economies across Africa.
By shifting away from a reliance on exporting raw materials to the production of premium products such as shoes, Africa can ease its dependency on aid and slowly move toward industrialised growth.
Founded in 2004, SoleRebels now employs around 150 Ethiopians producing shoes with hand-spun Ethiopian cotton, rubber and leather for export in over 65 stores around the world.
She believes creating jobs, supporting local industries and transforming Africa’s image abroad will have lasting impact on economies across the continent in ways that traditional aid cannot.
“That is sustainable, and that’s the only way of getting out of poverty,” she said, sitting in her flagship store in downtown Addis Ababa.
With a growth rate of 7.2 percent, according to the World Bank, Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
But, paradoxically, it also remains one of the top recipients of aid in Africa.
Today, the Ethiopian government is keen on boosting private investment, increasing trade and transforming the agriculture-based economy into an industry-based one, mimicking development models from Asia, such as South Korea or China.
For Bethlehem, it is not only about moving from aid to trade, it is about building a savvy business and manufacturing a product that resonates with customers from France to Taiwan, not because its made in Ethiopia, but because it is a good shoe.
“People see them and say ‘wow, cool shoes!’ without necessarily knowing they are made in Ethiopia. To me, that is critical,” she said.
She is intent on marketing her product in exactly the same way as longer-established Western-based companies market theirs.
“We are not saying … ‘we’re poor, we’re in Africa, we’re doing this to help the poor’. We have a brand, and we strongly believe in what we’re doing,” she said, lighting up at she gazes at the racks of shoes in her wood-lined store.
Ä Trade, not aid Ä
Born in a poor neighbourhood in Ethiopia’s capital, Bethlehem said she was inspired at a young age to go against the grain, especially after seeing how little impact traditional aid had in her community and her country.
“To follow everybody’s pattern is not something that I wanted to do from the beginning,” she said with a characteristic zeal in her eyes. “If I am doing the same thing that everybody is doing and I don’t make a difference, there is no change.”
Shoes, she said, are the perfect homegrown product since they can be produced entirely from Ethiopian materials. The cotton and leather is sourced locally, while the rubber soles are made from recycled tires.
Plus, the shoes and the company name resonates with Ethiopia’s rich history. Having never been formally colonised, Ethiopian rebels famously fought off Italian occupiers in 1941, inspiring a pride and spirit of independence Bethlehem sought to invoke with her company.
“We’re free, that’s why we call ourselves SoleRebels,” she said, sitting next to a display of colourful, rubber-soled shoes modelled after shoes worn by Ethiopia’s rebels.
Her business ethos is one that succeeds where charitable retailers elsewhere do not. Tugging on philanthropic heart strings, Western companies often brandish products manufactured cheaply in Asia in order to help Africa, something the socially-conscious founder of SoleRebels adamantly opposes.
She said too many companies “come up with ever more outrageous claims of how they are saving Africa or helping Africa as a marketing tactic to sell product,” adding that “most of it is pure ‘BS’.”
“We strongly believe that people have to get a certain salary, so we don’t want to produce our products with cheap labour,” she added.
The first certified fair trade shoe company in the world, SoleRebels proudly pays their employees five times the minimum wage in a country where average per capita income is less than $1 per day, according to the World Bank.
The secret to her success lies in large part in her perseverance. She faced many financial and administrative challenges early on but refused to give up.
Bethlehem also stands out in a country where business is dominated by men.
She built her company up from scratch with an initial investment of $5000. Today, she is aiming to build the company’s net worth to $250 million by 2020.
Having received accolades internationally, including from Forbes and the World Economic Forum, Bethlehem admits she is sometimes surprised at how successful her business is, but having gained momentum in recent years, she is set on expanding her global empire now.
“I am dreaming about it all the time,” she said.
SoleRebels will open over 50 stand-alone retail shops abroad over the next three years, adding to the 11 already in Taiwan, Singapore, Austria, Japan, Spain and Ethiopia. Her dream is to see Ethiopia’s economy transformed by supporting more businesses like her own.
“Imagine we have hundreds or thousands of SoleRebels…,” she said, with a sly smile. – Sapa-AFP
Ethiopia signed a contract Friday worth nearly $1 billion with a Chinese energy company to build two transmission lines linking the country’s largest dam to the country’s central power grid.
The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo.) signed the deal with China Electric Power Equipment and Technology Company (CET) in the Ethiopian capital.
The three-year project, which will be fully funded by the Export-Import Bank of China, will start immediately.
EEPCo.’s CEO said the deal was a major step for Ethiopia’s energy sector.
“This is another milestone in (realising) Ethiopia’s development objective,” Miheret Debebe told reporters.
The two transmission lines, with a combined capacity of nearly 1000 kilovolts, will run over 700 kilometres to link the Grand Renaissance Dam to the main power grid near the country’s capital Addis Ababa.
Miheret urged CET to adhere to the timeline set out in the contract for the project’s completion, and admitted that securing funding for the large-scale project was a “challenge.”
As part of its ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), Ethiopia is developing its energy production sector with the aim of exporting power to neighbouring countries.
With a capacity of 6,000 MW, the Renaissance Dam on the Nile River is the largest of Ethiopia’s dams, most of which are still under construction.
Hydropower is set to be the largest energy provider, but wind, geothermal and solar projects are also underway.
The country has the capacity to produce 45,000 MW of power, more than the total amount currently consumed in all of sub-Saharan Africa, according to official figures.
The GTP seeks to boost economic growth in order to transform Ethiopia into a carbon-neutral, middle income country by 2025.
China is a major player in the Horn of Africa nation, heavily invested in manufacturing, energy, and transport industries.
Copyright © 2013 AFP
By Getachew Teklu
An Italian fashion and bag designer has launched a series of bags with what has been described as an Ethiopian flare. The move at Milan’s Studio Giangaleazzo Visconti on Thursday night, saw Pinko unveil six Ethiopian versions of its signature cotton Pinko Bag.
More than a hundred women in Addis Ababa, about 65 of whom were recruited and trained especially for the project, produced the eco-friendly, 100 percent cotton Pinko Bag for Ethiopia collection, and the results of their efforts are in the Italian brand’s stores now at 58 euros (about $76) per bag, the company said.
The idea has been praised by women here in Ethiopia, who told Bikyanews.com that they are pleased that “we are a part of the fashion world and the price is not so bad that even we might be able to buy one some time.”
Halle Desa, 33, said she believed the concept of eco-fashion was something that “should really pick up in the future because it can really help to be a global thing for us here in Africa and the West.”
Marina Spadafora, the collection’s creative director, said she drew inspiration from colorful body-painting traditions in southern Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, and cited photographer Hans Silvester’s work as a resource. “I’ve been working on sustainable fashion for years,” she said, “and finally here was a chance to use Ethopian art.”
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu began SoleRebels as a way of bringing jobs to her community. When she migrated from the countryside in Gojjam to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in search of ‘a better life’ and saw that there really wasn’t one – she took action. She made a commitment to not only create jobs for her fellow citizens which were EXCELLENT paying ones, but jobs which were FAR ABOVE what other local employers were paying for similar work. She also committed to providing local jobs which provide a decent standard of living for workers and their families. Her goal was to create wages for workers which are on average 4x the legal minimum wage and 3x the industry average for similar work.
Next on her ‘to-do’ list was to create sustainable production. Her equation looks something like this:
RECYCLING + LOCALLY SOURCED ORGANIC MATERIALS + TALENTED HANDS = LOW CARBON FOOTPRINT + ENVIRONMENTAL RESPECT + COOL PRODUCTS
Talk about a recipe for success. Bethlehem’s thinking was that, in Ethiopia, recycling things is a way of life. In fact, people have been recycling for years and years without ever calling it recycling. When there are limited resources everything is valued and valuable. Everything has its purpose – even if it is not the original purpose it was intended for. For Ethiopians, ingenuity + resourcefulness equals TRUE RECYCLING.
Bethlehem’s company has taken the traditional Ethiopian selate shoe (recycled tire shoe) and re-imagined it as a very hip, dynamic, eye-catching fashion. Her staff of hardworking Ethiopians regularly challenge themselves to find new uses for indigenous and recycled materials. Styles include camouflages put into peaceful use, ingenious arrays and uses of Ethiopian hemps, and on to the most wild use of tires and inner tubes you can imagine.
Preserving Ethnic Heritage
Part of the company’s success, in addition to its beautiful products and commitment to workers, is the way it leverages the uniquely Ethiopian heritage to build a global, market leading eco-ethical brand. Everything the company does is guided by applying the unique cultural arts practiced in Ethiopia for millennia. By preserving important cultural assets in fresh, fun, dynamic new fashions, it’s a win/win for both producer and purchaser.
Sole Rebels believes in building power for workers and their surrounding community. Every action the company takes is with community betterment in mind. Besides creating a myriad of employment opportunities and always looking to increase these, the company challenges themselves to do more, more, more! One example of the kind of giving back Sole Rebels does is their artisan education fund. This fund provides monies for the education of Sole Rebel artisan’s children and/or the children of close relatives. Like all Sole Rebel programs the artisan education fund is flexible and demand driven – meaning the workers get to decide where to allocate money.
Fair trade, fun fashions, eco-friendly materials, and well-made long-lasting shoes – what could be more joyful!
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopia’s flower exporters are cashing in on Valentine’s Day, as the industry blooms.
Many of the roses that lovers give each other on Valentine’s Day happen to be grown in Ethiopia. In the last decade, the industry has grown from nothing to one of the dominant players on the international market.
Zelalem Messele, an Ethiopian flower grower and chairman of EHPEA, the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association, said Valentine’s Day is very important for the country’s flower sector.
“It’s one of the holidays the flower industry flourishes. And the production goes up by 30 to 40 percent and so the demand,” said Messele.
About 85 percent of Ethiopia’s flowers are exported to Europe. Flower exports in 2012 were valued at more than $210 million. This year, the amount is expected to be more than double, at $525 million.
Industry growth and government-provided tax breaks and loans have attracted many foreigners here to set up flower farms in Ethiopia. Of the 90 flower producers in the country, more than half are non-Ethiopians – many of them Dutch.
AQ Roses, a 40-hectare flower farm, 180 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, employs 1,250 people. It is run by a Dutch family who came to Ethiopia in 2005. General Manager Frank Ammerlaan said there were multiple reasons for coming to Ethiopia.
“We were much more attracted by the whole atmosphere in Ethiopia. There’s a lot of sunshine. The temperatures are moderate. It’s not too hot, not too cold. That’s why we are able to produce good flowers,” said Ammerlaan.
About 1,500 hectares in Ethiopia are used to produce flowers. The fast-growing industry has directly created about 85,000 jobs and roughly 110,000 jobs indirectly. Women take up 80 percent of these jobs.
ZK Flowers is a flower farm 50 kilometers south of Addis Ababa. There are only a few men to be spotted on the eight-hectare flower fields, as women occupy all jobs from cleaning to production management.
Birke Gormis works six days per week in the fields of ZK Flowers. She said the industry has improved her life and that of her family. She said that since she is employed, she is not dependent on her husband when she wants to buy items at the market.
Kenya is currently Africa’s biggest flower exporter and Ethiopia is second. As Ethiopia aims to surpass Kenya in the coming years, it is focusing on penetrating the North American market.
The august World Bank and the mighty World Economic Forum, in their January report Enabling Trade: Valuing Growth Opportunities, predict a burst of growth through more efficient seaports, air freight, and telecommunications:
By region, the report predicts a gigantic 12 percent jump in African GDP, a 4.4 percent rise for Mexico, and a smaller but still considerable increase of 2.8 percent in American GDP, including an 11.3 percent in exports. (In practical terms, $180 billion, the equivalent of last year’s exports to China and Japan combined.) The worldwide growth comes to about six times the value of removing all tariffs.
Why would this be?
Mainly because shipping costs are typically higher than tariff costs. In the U.S. case, the best-documented example comes from container shipping, using figures from (a) the Bank’s Trading Across Borders project, which closely studies costs in the Port of New York/New Jersey; (b) the Census Bureau’s annoyingly for-pay site usatrade.gov, which estimates trade value by mode of transport; (c) the Port of NY/NJ itself; and (d) miscellaneous reporting on ocean freight rates. Pulling all these sources together, in 2011, the New York port exported 1.62 million containers (measured in TEUs, or “twenty-foot equivalent units”) which carried $37 billion in cargo to foreign buyers. A typical container held $23,000 worth of goods like cosmetics, beef, books, auto parts for overseas service centers for US-based automakers, and medical devices for hospitals. To bring it from the port’s gate to a waiting truck in London cost about $3,000, or 14 percent of cargo value, in four separate costs:
(1) $690 to lift the container off the railcar at the port gate, bring it through the port, fill out and file paperwork, and hoist it by crane onto the deck.
(2) $1,500 to ferry it the 3077 nautical miles from the Harbor to Southampton dock. (Using a typical recent figure, which can be much higher or lower depending on fuel costs and the state of the economy in the importing country.)
(3) $455 to pick the container up off the ship, carry it through the port, clear security, and load it onto another truck, and
(4) $350 in tariffs at EU Customs, assuming the container has a typical mix of auto parts, cosmetics, books, airplane parts and similar manufactures. Lots more if it’s carrying beef, flour, or fish.
Paperwork and other incidental cost at the two ports, then, accounts for about 40 percent of the cost of moving the box from New York to London. The EU tariff is only about 12 percent. Ocean freight accounts for the rest. Bringing New York and Southampton to Singapore’s “world standard” of $326 to export a container and $299 to import would save exporters $520 per container – mostly from reducing costs in New York – which is well above the savings from eliminating all European Union tariffs. Getting halfway there, the goal set in the WB/WEF report, would save $260. This is not quite as much as tariff elimination, though when improved telecom costs, air-freight procedures, and roads to ports are included, the figure should be higher.
Developing-country gains in the report’s model are typically higher than this, because low-income countries are usually further away from the world standard. (Though at least in container-shipping and at least for exporters, U.S. costs are unusually high. More on this later.) Getting halfway to the standard, then, usually saves more for lower-income countries and therefore yields proportionately larger benefit.
Mr. Lamy met with Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom to discuss the accession procedures and requirements for membership, which the country has been working to meet for some time in Addis Ababa and made this pronouncement.
Ethiopia made its initial application to become part of the WTO in 2003, and a Working Party to consider and guide the country’s accession was set up in February of the same year.
Key issues pertaining to Ethiopia joining the WTO have surrounded the opening up of currently state-monopolized sectors, such as the telecommunications and finance sectors, while the country has also been called upon to allow investment by foreign entities.
The current announcement by Lamy indicates that Ethiopia may be nearing completion of all the transformations required by the organization, with the Director General’s visit also intended to provide specific advice in order that the final stages of accession may be swift.
If Ethiopia is able to join the World Trade Body, it will be a major achievement for Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who took over the country after the death of his predecessor and long term leader Meles Zenawi.
Once Ethiopia meets all of the requirements set out for accession, the final decision regarding membership will fall to the member countries of the WTO, who must all sign and ratify an accession agreement granting full membership.
BY Kate Douglas
Ethiopia’s soleRebels footwear company that has received an immense amount of international attention, was recently featured in the December edition of the Chinese Vogue magazine alongside well established brands such as Armani, Chanel, Gucci and Valentino. This comes at a time when soleRebels is positioning itself strategically for expansion across Asia.
The company, which opened its first Taiwan store in Kaohsiung last month, has just unveiled its second store in the city of Taichung. “The city is incredible, a must go tourism destination in Taiwan,” said Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, founder and CEO of soleRebels. “The crowds in the area where we are located are fantastic. Additionally Taichung is also a footwear epicentre, home to the Asian design centre for the planet’s largest footwear brand (Nike). It’s probably one of the most visited and watched footwear hubs in Asia.”
Alemu said that the response to both stores has been positive and the environmentally friendly soleRebels brand is regarded highly in the market. “[Taiwan] is one of the top 10 footwear markets in the world,” added Alemu. “Plus it is a gateway market into further Asian expansion including China where we plan to open stores in 2013. We feel very strongly that Taiwan is the perfect place for soleRebels to anchor our Asia wide roll-out.”
SoleRebels, which is the world’s first fair trade certified footwear brand, is also opening its third store in Taiwan this week in Pingtung City. “This opening is even more significant as it puts us well on the way to our goal of 30 soleRebels stores in Taiwan by 2015,” she told How we made it in Africa.
In addition, the company is also expected to soon launch stores in Singapore, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. “We feel strongly that there is immense potential for the brand all over Asia and Southeast Asia and so it’s natural for us to be in these markets,” continued Alemu. “In the United States we will roll out quite a few locations in 2013, beginning with our flagship New York City store.”
Having started in 2005 with just five employees, the company is expanding fast and creating jobs both locally and globally. “We are adding thousands of domestic, full-time, creative and well paid jobs over the next 36 months,” she said. “Through our store openings we will also create 600-800 global jobs by 2016.”
The company is planning on building a new factory in Ethiopia, replacing the current facility. “It allows us to continue to grow community employment to new heights as there will be many new jobs created when this facility is operational,” stressed Alemu.
SoleRebels predicts its global retail roll-out to add over US$15-20 million in revenues by 2015, and by 2020 Alemu aims to have over 150 retail stores worldwide. For more info visit: http://www.solerebelsfootwear.co/
By William Davison
Ethiopia, the world’s fourth-largest sesame grower, may see earnings from exports of pulses, oil seeds and spices rise by a third to more than $900 million this year.
Africa’s largest coffee producer and second-most populous nation is providing free land for processing and warehouses, as well as waiving related import and export duties, Haile Berhe, president of the 110-member Ethiopian Pulses, Oil Seeds and Spices Processors-Exporters Association said.
“The government is helping exporters through many incentives for each company,” he said in an interview in the capital, Addis Ababa, yesterday. “If the supply side is there, I am sure we can export that amount” in the year through July 7, 2013.
If the trends continue, Ethiopia may earn $2 billion a year from seeds, spices and pulses by the end of a five-year government growth plan in mid-2015, Haile said. Ethiopia’s government is working to attract foreign investment into agricultural processing to help it diversify an economy that relied on coffee for about a fourth of the $3.2 billion it earned from exports last year.
Sesame seeds accounted for around $460 million of last year’s revenue of $660 million from oil seeds, pulses and spices, Haile said. Ethiopia is the biggest sesame grower in Africa, and largest after India, Myanmar and China, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Association.
Chinalight General Merchandise Import & Export Corp., Qingdao Kerry Vegetable Oils Co. Ltd., and China National Chemical Fiber Corp. are major Chinese buyers of Ethiopian sesame, said Haile, who is also marketing manager for Guna Trading House Plc, part of the ruling party-linked Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray group.
Sesame seeds are used as in cuisines around the world, from candies in India and the Caribbean, to a hamburger-bun topping in the U.S. and as both a cooking-oil and ingredient in East Asian meals.
China buys about 60 percent of Ethiopia’s sesame, and foreign currency earned from those are legally required to be deposited at the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, the country’s largest lender, he said.
“This money is then put into an escrow account with theExport-Import Bank of China and used to secure at least one of the construction loans obtained from that bank,” Deborah Brautigam, professor and director of the International Development Program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said in an e-mailed response to questions Nov. 29.
That is the collateral for credit “that Ethiopia couldn’t otherwise secure on global credit markets,” she said. Commercial Bank of Ethiopia took a $300 million credit line from the Chinese trade bank in December 2011.
The government in turn has guaranteed 80 percent of eachbank loan made to the oil seed, spice and pulse industry, said Elias Genet, general manager of Agro Prom International Plc, an Addis Ababa-based exporter.
“The investment environment is better than it ever has been,” he said in a Nov. 29 interview. Growers have been given advice by the government and helped with seeds, fertilizers, pesticides to help boost production, he said.
Around 90 percent of sesame seeds and all white pea beans are bought by exporters on the state-owned Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, Elias said. There is potential for increased production of niger seed, linseed, soybeans, groundnuts, chickpeas and fava beans, he said.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at email@example.com
THE NUMBERS: World exports, 2011 -
Total: $22.6 trillion
Manufactures: $11.5 trillion
Energy: $3.0 trillion
Business services: $2.2 trillion
Travel/logistics services: $2.0 trillion
Agriculture: $1.7 trillion
Ores & other mining: $0.8 trillion
WHAT THEY MEAN:
Based on the figures above – from the WTO’s trade statistics report for 2011 – trade seems to have recovered from the crisis. The global economy of 2011, as measured by the International Monetary Fund, was $69 trillion. Thus $22.6 trillion in trade implies a ratio of trade to economic output of 32.5 percent. This is just above the pre-crisis share of 32.4 percent, and well above the 23.5 percent of world GDP as of the millennial year 2000.
By way of long-term context, the 20th-century low was about 5 percent during the Depression, and the pre-World War I peak was about 17 percent, though the comparison isn’t perfect since there are more countries now.A quick rundown of the past century’s trade history:
And by way of short-term observation, three countries account for about a quarter of all trade.China, with $2.08 trillion in goods and services exports, just shades the U.S.’ $2.06 trillion to be the world’s largest exporter.Germany is next at $1.73 trillion.By product, China easily leads in manufacturing, with $1.77 trillion in exports; the U.S. was just below $1 trillion.The U.S., however, faces few challengers as a services and agriculture exporter, in both cases managing more exports than the 2nd- and 3rd-ranking countries combined. Japan, France, and the U.K. rank fourth, fifth, and sixth.
The same three countries are the world’s biggest importers.Though the United States is still as the world’s top importer at $2.66 trillion, since the crisis China has been the fastest-growing importer, up by almost $700 billion (i.e. from $1.30 trillion in 2008 to $1.98 billion) while the U.S. import bill for 2011 was, by the WTO’s count, only $100 billion above the 2008 figure.Thus the U.S.’ share of the world’s imports has fallen from 13.2 percent to 11.9 percent; Germany is the third-largest importer at $1.54 trillion. Japan is fourth here too; the United Kingdom and France switch positions.
The WTO’s 2012 trade statistics report: http://www.wto.org/english/res_e/statis_e/its2012_e/its12_toc_e.htm
And the IMF’s economic database for countries, regions, and the world: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2012/02/weodata/index.aspx