magnifying our impact

A merger of Self Help Africa
(SHA) with United Purpose
(UP) in summer 2021
significantly extended the
organisation’s reach and
capacity to deliver poverty         eradication programmes.


The integration with Cardiff-based UP, formerly called Concern Universal, was just the latest in a series of mergers that has enabled Self Help Africa to become one of the largest international development organisations headquartered in Ireland.

From its humble beginnings as Self Help Development International, in the County Carlow village of Hacketstown in the mid-1980s, the organisation that became known as Self Help Africa was born out of a merger with Shropshire, UK-based charity Harvest Help, in 2008.

Thereafter, Self Help Africa joined with the Oxford based INGO, Africa Now in 2010. A legacy of this merger was the establishment its social enterprise consultancy Partner Africa, which had been initially formed as Africa Now- Ethical Business Services (EBS).

In 2014, Self Help Africa merged with Ireland’s longest established NGO, Gorta, which became the legal name for the merged entity. In 2015 and 2016 there followed mergers with Galway- based Alan Kerins Projects, which was supporting projects in western Zambia, and with Traidlinks, an organisation established to support the development of business linkages between Irish enterprise and sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2018, War on Want Northern Ireland joined the fold, and brought with it a development portfolio in Uganda, together with close to a dozen NI-based retail outlets, which were added to an existing network of 12 shops in the Republic of Ireland.

The merger, in August 2021 of Self Help Africa and United Purpose extends the organisation’s reach to 17 countries worldwide, and brings with it a series of development projects outside the continent of Africa, in Bangladesh and Brazil respectively. The merger increases staff numbers to close to 900 people, and annual turnover to more than €30m.

The merger increases staff numbers to close to 900 people and annual turnover to more than €30m.


Impact Snapshot



people reached with COVID-19 prevention messages



people with access to safe water



people supported with emergency relief
Emergency cash/food distribution, or helped to prepare for disasters



people use fuel-efficient stoves and/or cleaner fuels

expanding into new frontiers


Self Help Africa’s merger with United Purpose has added nine countries to the organisation’s portfolio, extending its reach to Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mozambique, Nigeria and Senegal.

Like Self Help Africa, United Purpose is dedicated to helping communities move beyond aid with its focus sharply on ensuring all programmes support greater gender equality, are sustainable and climate-smart. We are excited to see what we can achieve together in the years ahead.