Helping Thousands of Small Businesses in Southern Africa to Cope with the Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS
WASHINGTON, D.C.--International Executive Service Corps (IESC) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the successful BizAIDS program set up in Zambia in 2004 by IESC, through U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding, to help small businesses and local communities mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS. BizAIDS continues today in Zambia under the leadership of LEAD/Zambia, a local NGO founded with IESC support. BizAIDS has subsequently been introduced throughout southern Africa, in partnership with local NGOs specializing in business and HIV/AIDS, with a successful program now being implemented by the South African Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (SABCOHA).
Small businesses often cannot survive when HIV/AIDS strikes owners or employees. Absenteeism and insupportable healthcare costs can lead to business failure and serious hardships for employees and families, who depend on the income brought in by the business. BizAIDS is very different from other HIV/AIDS programs: it delivers practical information and business skills to very small businesses in rural areas, which are vulnerable when faced with a crisis; it introduces them to concepts about HIV/AIDS testing, prevention and treatment in non-threatening ways; and it provides assistance with regard to succession planning, in order to protect assets for micro entrepreneurs and their families.
According to Ambassador Tom Miller, President & CEO of IESC, the program has had incredible results. “Over the last 10 years, BizAIDS has helped tens of thousands of micro entrepreneurs, small businesses and rural communities in southern Africa cope with the economic impacts of HIV/AIDS, providing long-term stability and growth to support jobs where they are needed most. IESC was proud to have set up the program, and we are delighted that – a decade on - it is still being successfully maintained by the local NGOs we assisted in Zambia and in South Africa.”
BizAIDS provides training for small business owners in: (1) business planning; (2) basic information to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS; and (3) legal rights and succession planning.
Erin L. Spinnell