Meet Feraw: General Manager of Oliberté Ethiopia

Feraw is one of the most important people with Oliberté – since the company’s start in 2009, the Oliberté Ethiopia Limited branch manager has found local sources for materials, developed products and patterns, and managing day to day events. He is quick to smile, but also quick to engage in serious conversation and to speak his mind. “When I was young, I used to make things from wood, from this, from that. So somehow I made shoes from wood because somebody asked me to make,” he says of his journey to working for Oliberté. After graduating from Technical school, he was set to go to university until his best friend pointed out an advertisement for training on how to make shoe patterns at Anbessa shoe factory in Addis Ababa, where he grew up. He went, he stayed, he excelled, and after finishing the training from there he worked for  a shoe factory where he was sent to attended Cordwainers’ Technical College in London (now part of London College of Fashion). “It was not planned for me to go into shoe business, but because of that advertisement and my background making shoes from wood, that is where I ended up,” he says. Over the years since, he has worked in Zambia and Ethiopia. Now, Feraw has a wonderful wife, 18-year-old daughter, and 15-year-old son, and is integral to Oliberté (though he insists on making sure there is no role he holds that cannot be passed down to another Oliberté Ethiopia employee). “At first, it was just another job,” he says. “But now, it’s not just a job for me. I want to see Oliberté progressing and I’d like to be one of the person involve to build it up … We provide regular work. We pay whether or not there is work to be done that day, or whether there is electricity.” In Feraw’s spare hours, he spends time with his family and travels to nearby areas to provide handmade shoe-making training to nonprofits.

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