Transforming lives in Ethiopia

Celebrating Sir Alec Reed’s 90th Birthday

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As our founder, Sir Alec Reed, approaches his 90th birthday, it’s the perfect time to reflect on his remarkable journey of giving and the significant impact he has made.

Sir Alec’s story is one that deeply resonates with us—a story of entrepreneurial success combined with an unwavering commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of so many.

From founding Reed Executive Ltd, one of the UK’s largest private businesses, to establishing seven charities, including Ethiopiaid, he has been dedicated to making a difference. In the 2011 New Year Honours, Sir Alec was awarded a knighthood for services to business and charity- he is passionate about encouraging businesses to be more philanthropic.

Inspired by a visit to Addis Ababa and moved by the city’s sanitation challenges, Sir Alec redirected his focus towards addressing the pressing needs of the community. In 1989, Sir Alec founded Ethiopiaid with a generous £1m donation, catalysing a journey that has transformed countless lives in Ethiopia. That initial investment has since grown into more than £40m in partner grants over 35 successful years.

This success lies in the simple yet effective approach: our partnership model.

It’s a model-built on trusted relationships and strong communication. Sir Alec saw that pre-existing local charity partners already had the solutions. And Sir Alec knew that donors in the UK could provide the support needed.

This partnership model was ahead of its time and still remains one of our core strengths as a charity.

As Sir Alec rightly puts it:

“You can’t do a thing about the length of your life, but you can do things about the width. I’ve definitely doubled the width of my life through philanthropy.”

His words truly capture his philanthropic journey—a journey marked not only by financial generosity but also by a profound dedication to creating a wider impact.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions, last month Sir Alec received an award of appreciation from His Excellency Teferi Melesse Desta, Ethiopian Ambassador (pictured above with Sir Alec on the Left and His Excellency to the Right).

“In recognition of a lifetime’s dedicated effort, commitment and hard work to improve the lives of the Ethiopian people. On behalf of the Government of Ethiopia and myself we would like to say thank you to you and Ethiopiaid for your continuous support to Ethiopia. We appreciate and are grateful for your resilience, belief and trust in Ethiopia and its people.”

Happy 90th birthday, Sir Alec—may your kindness and compassion inspire many others.

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