I recently attended the Pan African Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (PABC) conference, held in
The PABC aims ‘to be the engine of private sector mobilisation in the fight against HIV and AIDS across the African continent.’ Ultimately, the PABC supports in-country coalitions to take effective action on HIV and AIDS. Participants in the conference identified common issues facing business coalitions (such as funding, information sharing and membership) as well as regional issues. For example, while business coalitions in East and Southern Africa are relatively well established, there are challenges to setting up and sustaining coalitions in Central and
In terms of the AIDSPortal initiative, we are interested in exploring how AIDSPortal information services can both support information flows within business coalitions as well as between business coalitions and civil society groups.
Since AIDSPortal began, the initiative has aimed to promote information flows and networking between civil society, government and the private sector. While both civil society and the private sector are proactive about making linkages with government, the link between civil society and private sector is often the weakest. While each group lists the other as a key stakeholder, they are more often seen as competition in the race for funding rather than a partner. I found it telling that, while government and international agency stakeholders were well represented at the PABC conference, civil society groups were markedly absent.
There are two questions that come to mind when thinking about how to build linkages between the private sector and civil society:
How can the private sector identify community based organisations that can help them provide services to the communities around them?
How can the private sector meaningfully consult with the communities in which they work?
These are the questions that will guide the ongoing development of AIDSPortal services and I look forward to working with partners, such as the PABC, to explore answers that bring added value to both the private sector and civil society.
To learn more about the PABC: