Feature story

How business could succeed in scaling up the business response to AIDS in Africa

01 November 2006

Global Health Initiative of the World Economic Forum and the World Bank are calling for continued support for Business Coalitions in sub-Saharan Africa to back companies in tackling pandemic.

1st November 2006, Geneva, Switzerland: In the first ever study of its kind, “The State of Business Coalitions in Sub-Saharan Africa”, which is released today, shows how 27 countries are supporting businesses in addressing HIV/AIDS. At least 20 coalitions exist in Sub- Saharan Africa today with more than 16 having been established in the last 5 years to meet growing demands. The study provides guidance to newly launched and those soon to be formed coalitions, shares best practices, benefits, achievements, and highlights the key challenges facing coalitions. Other businesses and donors are now being urged to back the approach and help strengthen Business Coalitions as an important part of the solution to the epidemic, which is devastating Africa’s people and economy.

Business Coalitions create critical mass for businesses wanting to respond to the crisis. Although the set-up and running can vary dramatically from country to country, they are successfully mobilizing business efforts in a coordinated way, facilitating the sharing of best practices and serving as the voice of the private sector in calling for increased action and facilitation of treatment programmes. They provide a way for businesses to engage with other coalition partners in their country in fighting the disease, and channeling resources from both the private and public sectors.

For five years, The Global Health Initiative’s (GHI) and the World Bank’s AIDS Campaign Team for Africa (ACTafrica), have worked together to catalyze public private partnerships in health, by building and supporting business coalitions across Africa, and well placed to coordinate the mapping and evaluation of the work done to date. This was achieved with additional cooperation from Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), UNAIDS, Corporate Council on Africa, and PharmAccess. Francesca Boldrini, GHI Director, commented, “This study highlights the richness of the business response in Africa that groups like the World Bank have been able to stimulate. It is fantastic that so many Business Coalitions have formed across Africa in recent years. It presents a huge opportunity to strengthen further the business response to AIDS - an opportunity we should not miss.”

All these new Business Coalitions have made excellent progress to date. In total, the coalitions have reached 1,950 organizations in sub-Saharan Africa. In order to sustain and keep growing their efforts a number of challenges need to be overcome.

The study reveals key challenges facing Business Coalitions today which include financial sustainability, with unpredictable funding from donors; the difficulty in meeting increasing company demands with limited staff and a lack of relevant skills; and reaching out to engage small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who employ the majority of Africa’s workers, but don’t have the resources and expertise of multinationals.

“In the global battle against HIV/AIDS, business has an obvious and important role to play”, says Elizabeth Ashbourne, Focal Point for Private Sector and HIV/AIDS in Africa, at the World Bank. “This study provides an excellent overview of how Business Coalitions can work effectively to overcome the challenges they face. I hope it acts as a motivator for all stakeholders – businesses, governments, donors – to recognize the value of National Coalitions and to work together with our development partners and country clients to strengthen their initiatives across Africa.”

The study concludes that strengthened HIV/AIDS Business Coalitions have the potential to meet the demands of companies today.


To download a copy of the full report and the individual country coalition profiles, highlighting the activities and successes, please visit the GHI website, http://www.weforum.org/en/initiatives/globalhealth/index.htm

Notes to editors:

About the Global Health Initiative (GHI) of the World Economic Forum
The GHI provides a unique platform for catalysing public-private partnerships in health and driving action on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria at the regional, national and international levels. To achieve this goal, the GHI works closely with the World Economic Forum’s member and partner companies as well as UNAIDS, the boards of the Global Fund and the Global Partnership along with the World Health Organization’s Stop TB and Roll Back Malaria partnerships. In addition to these, the GHI successfully engages with a broad range of NGOs and other members of civil society, as well as governments from across the world, effectively stimulating public-private dialogue in world health.


The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
 
Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.

For more information:
Richard Elliott
Senior Media Officer
Tel.: +41 (0)22 869 12 92
Fax: + 41 (0)22 869 13 94
richard.elliott@weforum.org 
www.weforum.org

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