When it comes to footwear, comfort, style, durability and affordability are important aspects when picking out a pair of shoes. But there is a lot more that goes into shoes than just our feet.
Canadian-based footwear company Oliberté, is stepping up and reaching out to impoverished African communities and making a difference in a big way. In fact it is touted as the “first to market premium urban-casual footwear made in Africa.”
Oliberté is raising the bar when it comes to the treatment of employees by making sure its factory workers, suppliers and farmers are treated responsibly and paid fairly. Local training as well as community development is also supported “in every country we work.” By bringing jobs to Africa, Oliberté is helping to build a middle class. The eco-friendly company is also partnering with factories and tanneries to reduce its carbon footprint and environmental impact.
The shoes with a difference are currently available in two styles – the Rovia for men and Elika for women. The Elika, available in five colors, retails for around $100 US. The men’s Rovia is a bit more expensive and retails for about $108.
Both styles offer a sole made out of 100 percent natural rubber, naturally processed from rubber trees in Liberia. And considering Liberia has the largest amount of natural rubber in all of Africa, it’s a good fit! The uppers and inners, made from premium lightweight cow or goat leather, are sewn in Ethiopia. The shoes are currently manufactured in Ethiopia but by 2013, the company hopes to expand to at least 10 other African countries as well.
The shoes can be purchased online or at select stores in the United States and Canada. Shipping to the US or Canada costs just $15. When you no longer need the shoes, just ship the shoes back to the company for a small fee. Although several options are on the table, the company is considering a recycling plan for shoes that are no longer worn.
While the headquarters are based in Ontario, the company’s heart remains in Africa.
Be sure to follow the company on Facebook or on Twitter.