Tal Dehtiar was in Sarnia earlier this month to describe how his company, Oliberté, became the world's first shoe company to be Fair Trade Certified by Fair Trade USA.
It all started when Dehtiar, then in his twenties, met a shoe salesman at a market in Liberia. A passion for business and a penchant for curiosity, Dehtiar asked him how business was. "Not good, the man replied," as the Observer describes. Local shoe salesmen were losing out to free charity handouts and couldn't survive, not even on low prices.
Dehtiar later launched Oliberté Footwear, which manufactures its shows in "leather shoes with rubber soles in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, providing its workers with more than double the country's typical minimum wage and helping lift native Ethiopians out of poverty," according to the article.
"We build our shoes in one of the most difficult parts of the world," Dehtiar is quotes as saying to about 75 people at the keynote presentation as part of Sarnia-Lambton Business Week.
The company's factory opened last year and currently employs 70 workers. It's now a multi-million-dollar company in "a part of the world that was largely foreign to him." However, "Owning the factory means the company determines how its workers are treated."
"We'll never be the biggest shoe company in the world, but we'll always be the most ethical and the best," Dehtiar says in the article. "Hopefully other companies will follow.
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Original Source: The Observer