Runners and walkers from the Okanagan-Shuswap took to the streets on Sunday, October 27th for our 9th annual Great BIG Run for Africa. This 100km relay from West Kelowna to our office in Enderby raises awareness and support for our micro-finance programs.
Over the past 9 years, this volunteer-organized event has raised over $150,000 and changed thousands of lives in Ethiopia. This year we raised over $21,000 to support poor women trying to land on their feet.
Roman is one of those women. Roman was married as a child, when she was 12 years old. When her husband died after 37 years of marriage, she was impoverished. She had no education, was illiterate, had no income and no assets, except for 500 Ethiopia Birr — about $25. She rented a small room in a peri-urban area of Addis Ababa, called Akaki, and started selling bread, vegetables, and biscuits from her home to put food on her own table. At the encouragement of a neighbour, she joined a cooperative organized by one of Partners’ Ethiopian partners, called WISE — Women in Self-Employment. There she received critical training, financing, and business coaching. With financing, she was able to take her products and her business up the value chain. She bought a fridge, a coffee machine, and a water tank and she started selling different kinds of prepared meals. In a short time, she was able to save 7,000 Birr (almost $400) while meeting the repayment terms of her loans (300 Birr/week). She now has over 50,000 Birr ($2,800) in capital. How has this changed her life? She has renovated her home. She supports herself and 6 family members. And she’s empowered — and a model to other women and girls.
Since 2009, with Partners’ support, 1,400 women have received training and micro-finance support through WISE to start their own businesses. This coming year, we’re hoping to raise that number to 1,650. This year’s Great BIG Run was critical in helping us reach that goal.
A very big thank you to our volunteer organizers, our runners and walkers (and your pledgers), the Enderby Fire Department, and the many businesses and individuals who lent a helping hand. See you next year!