As we await the arrival of students at the Volta School for the Deaf, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce everyone to a company I’ve been following for the past 3-4 years. Oliberté is a social enterprise that has been advertising in a monthly publication I receive for serving in the Peace Corps called “The World View”.
The first thing that grabbed my attention towards Oliberté was the stunning photographs of high quality handmade shoes popping off the pages of “The World View.” The design, craftsmanship, and materials stood out, as unique and bold. The shoes didn’t appear to be “cookie-cutter” in any way, captivating me to learn more.
I continued to read more about this group, to learn that the shoes were entirely made in Africa by Africans, including the sourcing of the materials used for production. The soles of their shoes are made from rubber grown in Liberia, and the leather handpicked and sewn in Ethiopia. Workers are at least 50% woman, including senior and junior administrators. Who is behind this idea? I wanted to learn more about the organizations founder.
It was upon learning about the Tal Dehtiar, the founder of Oliberté that I decided to create this brief introduction. In the article linked here, I learned that Dehtiar is not looking for charity, or a company in which one buys out of pity. He is first and foremost promoting the quality goods that can and are being produced in Africa. As quoted in the following article “At Oliberté, we believe Africa can compete on a global scale,” he says, “but it needs a chance. It doesn’t need handouts or a hand up. It needs people to start shaking hands and companies to start making deals to work in these countries.”
The example of Dehtiar and the good people of Oliberté is one that we at Our Talking Hands will continue to follow. The growth of Oliberté from 200 shoes in 2009 to a projected 25,000-30,000 shoes in 2012 is a testament to the hard working African and the vision of their founder, and further proof that good things come with patience and an indomitable will. As we say here in Ghana Ayekoo!! (you have done well).