Ethiopia is known for its talented runners, but behind the success lies many years of hard training, financial and social challenges. Although the runners are talented and motivated, only a few can make a living from running. When they fall out of a running career, many end up living on the streets. Unfortunately, this mostly affects the girls. They often end up being raped and abused. Some return to the family without any opportunity for education or work.
Run Africa Athletics Club was established by a young and dedicated woman, Rekik, who saw the potential in running tourism in Ethiopia. At the same time as she wanted to contribute to a dignified life for the young, talented runners. She herself has been a runner and knows both the positive and negative sides of the sport. Run Africa has split activity; a sports club for talented, poor runners and a company that works in running tourism.
The collaboration with PfC has made it possible for Run Africa to establish a secure offer for the young people – and especially the girls. In addition to professional training and safer transport, they receive instruction in life skills, English, first aid, IT and sports massage.
Car for sustainable and safe operation
For a period, PfC paid for car rental so that the young runners could be transported safely between the various training areas / heights. Car rental is very expensive in Ethiopia. However, if they owned a car, they would be able to have income from the tourists who could cover the vocational training. PfC therefore provided a loan so that Run Africa could buy their own minibus. The loan will be repaid and the money will go to other projects in Ethiopia. This is how PfC can become redundant.
Coping with the pandemic
Run Africa was initially hit hard by the covid pandemic. From January to November 2020, Run Africa suffered from a shortage of tourists. In addition to losing clients, the runners in the program could not afford to live in Addis Ababa. Almost 80% of the runners returned to their homes, in the countryside. The state of emergency also stopped the training and coaching program.
Although the tourists did not show up, the pandemic also gave new opportunities for Run Africa. After a careful assessment of the market, Run Africa resumed the work in October 2020 with the 15 runners still in Addis. The local customer base, mainly diplomats and other foreigners, increased significantly as a result of the growing need for outdoor training during the pandemic. Now all 15 runners are busy with training every weekend, and they make money again. The expatriate community in Addis Ababa has proven to be an important new customer group, and Run Africa has managed to survive as a company.