HIV and Microfinance
Aidsfonds (previously STOP AIDS NOW!) encourages microfinance institutions in Uganda to be active players in addressing the challenges that HIV and AIDS poses to their clients and staff. We support initiatives that mainstream HIV responses in microfinance initiatives.
Microfinance services for HIV affected people
An effective strategy to improve the lives op people affected by HIV is offering them microfinance services. Making use of these services enables poor people to start a business, generate an income, and reduce vulnerability to financial setbacks and sudden expenditures. The characteristics of the target groups of the microfinance services are largely identical to those of people affected by HIV: individuals of productive age, mostly poor, mainly living in urban areas, and increasingly female. Microfinance is considered a potential strategy to diminish the negative impact of HIV, whereas microfinance services may support the dissemination of information on HIV prevention and offer a model of psychosocial support groups.
Yet, many microfinance institutions insufficiently take into account the particular needs and limitations of HIV affected individuals, for instance the reduced ability to attend meetings, and thus worsen the impact of HIV. Furthermore, institutions may unintentionally pursue discriminative lending policies and also stigmatise and exclude HIV affected staff and clients. At the same time, the microfinance institutions themselves are affected by HIV, by losing experienced staff and being faced with medical costs.
Our project in Uganda
Aidsfonds (previously STOP AIDS NOW!) supports the integration of microfinance initiatives and HIV responses in the project ‘Scaling up the Response of Microfinance Institutions to the Challenges of HIV and AIDS in Uganda’, which started in 2012. Three organisations work together to build the capacities of microfinance institutions to reduce the impact of HIV on their clients and staff: Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU), National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Network in Uganda (NAFOPHANU), and Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development (ACORD).
The project’s objectives include:
- Increased access to microfinance services for HIV affected entrepreneurs;
- Improved access to HIV/AIDS information and services for clients and staff of microfinance institutions; and
- Development and implementation of workplace programmes and policies, to prevent the spread of HIV and to mitigate the negative impact of HIV and AIDS within microfinance institutions.
Within the project, guidelines on HIV and microfinance mainstreaming will be developed. These will be used to upscale the project and make more microfinance institutions, in Uganda and other countries, HIV sensitive.