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Oliberte - Canadian Shoe Company Case Study

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Oliberete introduction


Oliberte is a Canadian shoe company that was founded in 2009 which manufactures shoes in Africa to support local Africans by providing job opportunities so as to drastically change their lives. Oliberte has a distinctive business model that greatly supports social and environmental well being of local African communities. Throughout this paper you will see how the ethical business methods that Oliberte incorporated within its confines will not only benefit the business as a whole, but allow for great opportunity for the African people, to take control of their lives and make it for the better.

These next three sections will give you more insight of what Oliberte is and what their about, go further in depth with their mission statement, and describe how they became the first free trade footwear company.

What is Oliberte? 

Oliberte is the first premium shoe distributor in all of Africa. Before them no one had the idea that Africa would be capable of making premium quality shoes on the continent. They work in a couple of key countries such as Ethiopia, Liberia, Zambia, and works a little bit in Kenya as well. These countries contain all of the natural materials they need, as well as manufacturing facilities, to help them create hand crafted shoes in Africa. On top of the premium quality shoes, they have their workers, who demonstrate amazing craftsmanship, who are both male and female. Since Oliberte treats their employees sufficiently, with pay and fair treatment, it encourages them to work as hard as they can. This company encourages not only the employees of Africa, but the people as well to help them stay away from the idea that Africa is incapable of taking care of its self. Instead they give the people a sense of empowerment and give them the idea that Africa is capable of not only taking care of themselves, but to a higher prestige in life.

On every single shoe Oliberete makes, they put a tag that is a red rectangle with a white circle in the middle. Most people would look past this as just a company logo. On the contrary it is much more symbolic than that. If you were to take it upon yourself and look at old Photos of revolutions, where rebels come and take over capital cities, they take the country’s most symbolic symbol, which would be the flag, and rip out the middle of it. This is what the logo of Oliberte represents. It is making a statement for all the men and woman at Oliberte, saying to give them a chance, and let them do something. They don’t want to live the rest of their lives as beggars with their hands out. They would rather do something with their hands and work in order to survive.

If there is one thing Oliberte wants to get across, it is that they are not a charity, they are a footwear company. They are about making shoes, paying their people well, and taking care of them, by using the best materials in the world, and blending the beautiful craftsmen ship of Africa, with the unique design of Oliberte.

The company makes every handcrafted shoe with the intentions that not only are you walking in a little piece of Africa, but you are standing within a concept, that says Africa can be more than just the poverty you see everywhere, that it can be about Pride,  and that it can be about liberty. This is the Africa that oliberete wants people to know and to also wear. They also want you to know that both great quality shoes, and fairness, can go hand and hand to make a thriving company.        

Mission statement

 Oliberte has a simple mission statement, but holds a more powerful meaning.  “We believe in empowerment, transparency, and doing right by all.” The meaning behind this statement says that this company creates high quality leather goods and products for consumers backed by a life time warranty. On top of that they implement fair employment and fair trade policies with sustainable industrialized practices. By employing these principled practices, it makes Oliberte stand out from other shoe companies, and displays that you can still be a successful buisness and be ethical at the same time.

Fair Trade

On September, 20th, 2013 Oliberte became the very first footwear manufacturing company to be Fair Trade certified by Fair Trade USA.  What this means is that at all of their facilities are adhering and exceeding  in depth standards for empowerment, economic growth, social accountability, and environmental responsibility. By doing all of this they are still able to provide stable jobs and equal opportunity to the people who most deserve it. Fair Trade is a very powerful business model to help maintain employee morale and customer loyalty. Fair trade delivers a message to the employees which helps them try to improve their lives through hard work and dedication, and gives the customer a sense purpose to help the world become environmentally better by every purchase they make.


As shown in these previous sections, Oliberte is all about being a successful business, while still being able to do ethical practices. They believe in empowerment, transparency and doing right by all, which would make sense as to why they have incorporated fair trade into their practices.

The Process of becoming Fair Trade Certified


These next few sections will discuss how Oliberte incorporated itself into becoming  a fair trade certified corporation, and how it benefited its employee’s growth, pay scale and fair treatment amongst workers both male and female.  

 In order for the company to become Fair Trade certified, they had to go through a long and grueling process. They had to over overcome more than 200 compliance factors along with a two day on site audit. This procedure lasted many months, but in the end, the company was able to improve their conditions and even further expand their job opportunities.

This includes over double the minimum wage necessary inside Ethiopia, including a community expansion premium.

Clear and informative handbooks with Oliberte policies for all employees. These policies include no child employment, no enforced labor, no penitentiary labor, no prejudice, freedom of movement, freedom of association, appropriate working hours and conditions, equal opportunity hiring practice, health and safety, emergency plans, and a safe work environment.

Fire and emergency catastrophe evacuation drills and procedure, Building and gear inspection for safety, clearly distinct exits, and fire extinguishers.

Properly labeled bathrooms and changing rooms with lockers.

Safe and proper protective equipment for all employee use.

Sufficient amount of space between machinery.

Weekly doctor visits for checkups on employee health.

Women’s equal rights and empowerment in the work place.

Ninety day maternity leave.

Democratic and clear decision making through a workers committee.



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