October 29, 2013 - 8:27 AM
KELOWNA - A 100 km relay run from Flaman Fitness in West Kelowna to Enderby raised more than $15,000 to help poor women in Ethiopia start their own businesses.
The Great Big Run for Africa has raised a total of over $150,000 since it began in 2005, with 100 percent going towards micro-finance loans for Ethiopian women in need.
“Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world,” says Christine Parsons, Executive Director of Partners in the Horn of Africa. “We find our model works well there because Ethiopians are really motivated to improve their situation. So far we’ve seen a repayment rate of around 85 percent.”
The loans are an average of $70 and are used for everything from equipment purchases to business training.
Roman is an Ethiopian woman who lives in the capital, Addis Ababa. Several years ago she was left with six dependents when her husband of 37 years died.
She was illiterate, had never been to school, and had no income or assets. She started selling bread and biscuits from her home but after struggling to earn enough to sustain her family and her business she approached a local non-governmental organization called Women In Self Employment who are connected with Partners in the Horn of Africa.
“When she joined, she received the training and business coaching she needed and has since bought a fridge, a coffee-maker and a water tank,” said Parsons. “She has not only repaid her loan but has since been able to save almost $4000, which is quite a lot by their standards.”
The average per capita wage in Ethiopia is $125.00 per year.
“She’s become a role model for women in her area and a real success story for us.”
Crystal Flaman of Flaman Fitness is one of the original volunteer organizers of the annual event. In the first year, she and Stephanie Moore ran the entire 100 km by themselves, raising $7000 and has been involved ever since.
“It’s a wonderful example of hope and of women-helping-women,” said Crystal. “We never thought it would turn into something of this magnitude.”
For more information on The Run or to make a contribution, visit this website.
To contact a reporter for this story email Adam Proskiw at email@example.com or call 250-718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013