Quotable: 'People don't want to be not poor'

Quotable: 'People don't want to be not poor'

Addis Ababa-based entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun at the World Economic Forum in May 2012. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/7169657482/sizes/z/in/photostream/">World Economic Forum (Flickr)</a>
Addis Ababa-based entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun at the World Economic Forum in May 2012. Photo: World Economic Forum (Flickr)

Bethlehem Tilahun, Ethiopian entrepreneur and founder of SoleRebels Footwear, in the New York Times:

“As I entered college ... it had become clear to me that ‘poverty alleviation’ is a myth.”

“People don’t want to be ‘not poor,’ they want some form of prosperity. That doesn’t mean millionaires or billionaires, but prosperous,” Ms. Tilahun said. “And to create prosperity you have to create something world class.”

...

There is an ‘urgent need,’ she said, to create more African-owned brands delivering world-class products to the global market, to drown out charitable organizations ‘selling their variety of messages about and images of Africa.’

“Let’s face it,” she said, “it’s pretty hard to convince someone to buy what you are selling when someone else has convinced them you are solely occupied with swatting away flies from your face.”

As the Times reports, the rate of female entrepreneurship is higher in Africa than in any other region of the world.

Curated news and insights about innovative, market-driven solutions to poverty explored through news, commentary and discussion.

Learn more »

Global Envision newsletter