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IFC Helps Private Sector Step Up Fight Against AIDS


Contact:

In Washington, DC:

Georg Schmidt

+1 202 458 2934

gschmidt@ifc.org


Washington, D.C., November 24, 2003. In addition to its disruptive effects on individuals and society, AIDS has become a major challenge for businesses, especially in developing countries. IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, provides guidance for client companies’ anti-AIDS measures in the workplace and in local communities. Since its inception in 2000, the IFC Against AIDS program has given momentum to the private sector’s fight against the disease.

Businesses feel the impact of HIV/AIDS most clearly through their workforce, with direct consequences for a company's bottom line. These include increased expenditures on medical and health insurance, funeral costs and death benefits, as well as recruitment and training needs due to lost personnel. In addition, firms experience other financial impacts as a result of higher absenteeism and staff turnover, reduced productivity, declining morale and a shrinking consumer base. While the companies’ revenues shrink, their costs of doing business rise due to disruptions in the supply chain also affected by AIDS.

IFC has been working with companies in a number of countries to identify and address the multiple impacts of HIV/AIDS on their business. As part of an ongoing commitment to sustainable development, IFC designs prevention and care programs in support of employees and the communities in which they work and live.

Sabine Durier, the program leader of IFC Against AIDS says, “In Africa’s formal business sector, new AIDS infections cost between 3.4 and 10.7 percent of annual salaries. Our AIDS interventions clearly outweigh these costs. Businesses are usually willing to combat the disease, but face problems in developing and implementing action plans. This is where IFC can add value, with its globally tested programs against AIDS in the workplace. We show our clients how to do good and do well.”

The effects of mobilizing the private sector against AIDS go far beyond company walls. Private sector employees frequently belong to elites whose stance on AIDS provides important orientation for local communities. Similarly, businesses often play a leadership role in society. Their access to resources and the impact of their public voice makes them valuable protagonists in the fight against AIDS, especially in times of scarce public resources.

In Angola, Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company earmarked $1 million dollars of a $280 million IFC corporate loan extended in 2002 to support efforts related to the fight against AIDS. Together, IFC and Odebrecht launched an education, prevention, and care program which has reached almost 100,000 people in Angola. By placing an emphasis on women's health, prevention of HIV transmission from mother to infant, and assessing the provision of anti-retroviral therapy in the company's sites, this program further contributes to the overall AIDS strategy of the country.

IFC’s mission (www.ifc.org) is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY03, IFC has committed more than $37 billion of its own funds and arranged $22 billion in syndications for 2,990 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY03 was $16.8 billion for its own account and $6.6 billion held for participants in loan syndications.

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For more information on IFC’s AIDS strategy, including case studies and a Good Practice Note on HIV/AIDS in the Workplace, visit www.ifc.org/ifcagainstaids. Sabine Durier, the program leader of IFC Against AIDS, is available for interviews in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.