Having received positive nod from major global brands in the footwear industry, local shoemakers are propping up business relationships with renowned international brands that are eyeing to source bulks of shipments from Ethiopia.
Wondu Legesse, director general of the Leather Industry Development Institute (TIDI) told The Reporter that in an effort to upscale the marketability of the country’s footwear products, the institute under the guidance of the Ministry of Industry has collaborated with Made by Ethiopia, a local firm formed by a group of leather and footwear manufacturers, to launch a massive marketing campaign to promote the industry in the global market.
According to Wondu, some 10 manufacturers have joined hands to supply footwear products mainly destined for the US. To that effect, Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed recently with US souring brands.
Coordinating the activities of Made by Ethiopia, Bethlehem Tilahun, founder and owner of SoleRebels, who also lunched a coffee shop business recently, is pioneering the effort to leverage and convince global buyers that Ethiopia is the best alternative sourcing market when compared to Bangladesh and Vietnam—markets many international brands rely on to source products.
Bethlehem told The Reporter that Made by Ethiopia is currently ushering in the Ethiopia footwear industry into the global market by focusing on promotional activities to help the country become one of the major sourcing nations in the footwear and leather market. She also said that so far, Aldo, Wolverine, Caleres, Under Armor, Li&Fung, Sears, RLF, RG Barry, Zara, and Global Brands Group have shown interest to source from Ethiopia.