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