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Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu named to head World Economic Forum’s Key Youth Leadership Initiative

by Ian Andrew |

World Economic Forum Logo
Founds GLOBAL SHAPERS community in Addis Ababa; deploys cutting edge social media campaign to select a next generation of emerging leaders

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – World Economic Forum [WEF] Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab has named Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, founder and managing director of trailblazing footwear brand soleRebels and a WEF 2011 Young Global Leader, as Founding Curator of the Forum's newest and most critical venture, the Global Shapers community.

The Forum is establishing this special community of young people in their 20s to provide youth with a global platform to shape the future by integrating the personal, community, and global dimensions. Through the unparalleled convening power of the World Economic Forum, the GlobalShapers Community is diverse in demographics, geographical areas and sectors. However, it is united by a common desire to channel the members’ tremendous energy and enthusiasm into building a more peaceful and inclusive world.

Global Shapers will undertake activities that generate a positive impact by increasing each individual Shaper’s ability to improve the state of their community and by providing opportunities for Shapers to have local and global impact. The community will work in collaboration with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and will operate out of more than 75 local city hubs – from New York to Mexico City, from London to Amman, from Johannesburg to New Delhi, and from Addis Ababa to Adelaide

“I am deeply honored by Chairman Klaus’ designation of me to head this exciting initiative in Ethiopia. As a community grown entrepreneur myself I am excited to be pioneering this effort to engage and interact with talented youth as they strive to make their communities and the world at large a better place,” stated Bethlehem.

The Global Shapers Community is based on the concept of a global network of local hubs in the most important and the most challenging cities in the world. To that end, the Global Shapers Community will undertake events and activities that generate a positive impact within their local community but which also remain connected to global issues through the interactions generated inside each hub, between hubs, and on a global level.

Bethlehem has created a cutting edge strategy to build her Global Shapers community by selecting her group based on input received through outreach conducted via social media. Under the title COME CHANGE YOUR WORLD, she is inviting people to express why they or someone they know in the greater Addis Ababa area should be chosen as a Global Shapers. They can do this via several channels:

1. Post on the dedicated worldSHAPERS facebook page
2. Twitter their nomination for a Global Shaper using the dedicated worldSHAPERS Twitter @worldSHAPERS
3. Come in person to the soleRebels store in Adams Pavilion at Saar Bayt and submit their nomination for a Global Shaper on a neatly PRINTED document [No handwriting will be accepted]

The written submissions can be no more than 150 words long, while the twitter submissions can not exceed TWITTERS maximum length.

The criteria for selection as a Global Shaper are:

  • Between 20 and 30 years of age at the time of nomination
  • From all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds
  • Highly committed to developing their leadership potential towards serving society
  • Adhering to the highest standards of moral and intellectual integrity
  • Possessing unique qualities that set them distinctly apart from the mainstream
  • Entrepreneurial track record, having already initiated and delivered a major project or founded a company or organization, exceptionally contributing to serving society at large
  • Ready to deeply engage in the community, reinforcing its mission and objectives and supporting fellow shapers in their individual and professional development

Bethlehem will choose and then lead a team of approximately 10 dynamic, passionate, and emerging young leaders aged 20-30, and forming them into a WEF Global Shapers hub over the course of a year. The hub established by Bethlehem and her team will then become an ongoing entity remaining in place as a permanent part of the World Economic Forums structures. Bethlehem will also pass leadership to a member of the community deemed to have demonstrated the greatest potential for continuing to lead + build upon what has been established by the founders. The entire hubs activities will be online at

Bethlehem says her aim with using social media tools from the start is to create a LIVING + BREATHING grassroots community that from day one exists BOTH on the ground and in the social media realm. "Doing our outreach and interactions in this way means that everything – from the original selection of members through to the actual initiatives being implemented – can touch the largest number of people while also harnessing the greatest amount of real time input, insights and feedback. Ongoing collaboration is at the core of this initiative so what better way to expand the possibilities of collaboration than utilizing social media.”

The opportunity to become a Global Shaper is doubly exciting for those chosen because in the process of applying their skills to the world’s most pressing problems, Global Shapers will also be able to advance their own personal careers at the same time through the unique scope and depth of opportunities that are simultaneously available to sister organizations of the World Economic Forum. This includes interacting with Young Global Leaders, Social entrepreneurs, Technology Pioneers, Foundations Members, Global Agenda Councils, and many more.

For the next 4 weeks, Phase 1 of the initiative will be live with Bethlehem inviting everyone in the wider community to Twitter and post about who they feel are the most dynamic 20-30 year olds who should be in the inaugural Global Shapers community.

World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab expressed excitement over Bethlehem’s appointment and approach:

“We went looking for an excellent Founding Curator for the Global Shapers community and are delighted that Bethlehem has agreed to take on this unique role. As a Founding Curator Bethlehem leads the local Global Shaper Community in the first year of operation, the most critical year of this initiative as it sets the tone and vision and for all subsequent years for this critical community.“

More about the soleRebels/worldSHAPERS

Online at

More information about the Global Shapers Community

Global Shapers Community Brochure (PDF, 4 pages, 1.6 MB)
More information about the World Economic Forum at
More information about the Forum of Young Global Leaders at