Image from oliberte
Here are some new sneakers that look good and are about more than just fashion. They are made with a social conscience by a Canadian company in West Africa. All aspects of the shoe production are carried out in Liberia and Ethiopia. The Canadian company masterminding them is working with small communities to develop their business sense and provide jobs and skills training.
These are countries that have suffered through decades of civil unrest and injustices. Oliberte wants to draw attention to the continent's "pride, power and liberty". They claim to be the first international footwear producer to work exclusively in Africa.
Image from oliberte
The rubber soles for the footwear are completely natural. They are made from natural milk from rubber trees that have been tapped in Liberia. Liberia has the largest amount of natural rubber in Africa, but because of political problems over the past years it has been almost impossible to work here. They are using one of the most traditional ways to process rubber into shoe soles and this is an important source of job creation for the people.
The shoes themselves are manufactured in Ethiopia which happens to have a growing footwear industry and a large selection of good leather that is light and natural. They are consulting with the tanneries to meet environmental standards.
The company is working in partnership with factories to improve their environmental footprint. As they say: "we still have a long way to go, but we will continue to do all we can improve our materials, our production and our shoes." Oliberte will be supporting local training in the communities where they work.
Their ad says "Africa is more than just poverty and OlibertÃ© is the start of a revolution that shows, through urban footwear, this is the real Africa! OlibertÃ© is not a charity — it is a company that believes you can change how the world views Africa and help build lives every time when you buy a pair of OlibertÃ© shoes that are made in Africa." More power to them. : Oliberte