Clara man puts best foot forward for charity

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An Offaly charity fundraiser made it five in a row when he joined over 30,000 competitors in Africa’s biggest road race late last year.

An Offaly charity fundraiser made it five in a row when he joined over 30,000 competitors in Africa’s biggest road race late last year.

Ronan Scully from Clara brought a party of over 20 charity fundraisers on a trip to Ethiopia, as part of a run to support the charity with whom he works, Gorta-Self Help Africa.

For Ronan it was five in a row – having previously travelled with Irish supporters to take part in the high-altitude Great Ethiopian Run in Addis Ababa every year since 2010.

During the week long visit he brought the Irish group – who included representatives from Dublin, Galway, Laois, Clare, Mayo, Kildare and Waterford – to meet staff and local communities who are involved in a series of rural and agricultural development projects being supported by the charity, in Ethiopia.

Included amongst these were visits to a series of women’s rural savings and credit cooperative groups, whose members have been supported with small loans to start small enterprises.

The Gorta-Self Help Africa savings and credit project is currently supporting upwards of 40,000 Ethiopians with small loans.

“This project has been hugely successful in Ethiopia,” Ronan said. “The repayment rate on loans is running at between 92-94%, and the number of small businesses that have been supported is incredible. Over 70% of borrowers are women, which also has a huge positive impact on efforts to end poverty in the region,” he added.

Gorta-Self Help Africa was established in Summer 2014 as a result of a merger of Gorta and Self Help Africa, two Irish agricultural development organisations working in sub-Saharan Africa. Self Help Africa had been established in Ethiopia 30 years ago, as a direct Irish response to the terrible famine of 1984.