This program earned a Silver award.
Many small and micro enterprises in South Africa are currently facing huge problems due to the increasing costs (both financial and in personnel terms) of HIV/AIDS. Small businesses are often especially badly affected, as they do not have comprehensive insurance or funeral cover, often do not have workplace policies regarding HIV/AIDS, and have not established succession plans in the case of the owner passing away, or being too sick to continue working. To address this, the South African Business Coalition on HIV & AIDS (SABCOHA) established BizAIDS – a series of training workshops for SMME owners. The training covers an overview of HIV/AIDS and other health-related issues (including VCT); empowering business owners to implement good business practices; ensure that the risk is contained; and carrying out succession planning, to empower their family members and employees are able to run the business in the their absence, ensuring a steady income from the business. This includes drawing up a will (which involves stipulations for succession of the business), how to buy and sell a business, improving record-keeping so that others can take over, and accessing community and business support centres to assist with health and business-related matters. Local community members are also trained to facilitate the workshops themselves, expanding the reach of the workshops to more areas and in more languages.
Innovation: The project empowers SMME owners to implement best practices, with an awareness of HIV/AIDS, and to make plans for the continuation of their business in the event of their illness or death. This allows their families to continue earning an income from the business. Also, it empowers owners to run more successful businesses, and to provide better HIV/AIDS care for their employees.
Effectiveness: To date, 4178 micro enterprises have received training in basic business skills, and HIV/AIDS, in Gauteng, North West Province, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, and Eastern Cape. Funding has been approved for a further 600 participants to be trained in Gauteng.
Poverty Impact: In surveys carried out three months post-training: 86% of business owners had either planned or conducted HIV/AIDS related training for employees; 86% had identified plans for continuing running the business in the absence of the owner; 90% had shared business records with either family members or employees to enable them to run the business in the owner’s absence; 86% had developed ways to extend the business; and 31% had completed a will. All of these measures would make a big impact on the continuation of the project, meaning it could carry on generating income after the business owner died. 518 participants also undertook VCT, meaning they know their HIV-status, enabling them to make better long-term plans.
Sustainability: The project costs approximately R1.5m annually to run. Current funding is provided by Centre for Disease Control (CDC) for five years (from October 2007); while the Gauteng Department of Health’s Multi-Sectoral AIDS Unit (MASU) has provided funding until March 2010. The cost per person in training is R350.
Replication: Funding for similar projects would need to be accessed, and it is likely that the amount needed would be substantial. However, similar projects on a smaller scale (eg. specific to a certain area or region; or without accredited training and resources) could be established, and would be very useful. The scope for similar projects in rural areas is also huge, and this could be a good potential site for replication in the future.