Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Clients Affected by HIV/AIDS

Approximately 39 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, with 4.1 million more becoming infected annually. Each year, about 2.8 million die due to HIV/AIDS-related illnesses, leaving behind 15.2 million orphans. Increasingly, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is being recognized as more than a health crisis. It is a major economic development challenge, posing serious socioeconomic consequences at national, community, and household levels. To what extent households, communities, and nations are able to cope with the consequences depends on the type and amount of resources at their disposal. Poor households and communities are the hardest hit, facing increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and few means of protection against economic crises.

Financial services, including loans, savings, and insurance, can help poor households mitigate the economic consequences of the disease. They can help clients to maintain a consistent income stream, to build a savings base that may be liquidated to cover emergency expenses, and to avoid selling productive assets, such as land and equipment, which may have a devastating effect on the clients’ future earning potential and ability to recover from the crisis.

Working together, AIDS Support Organizations (ASOs) and microfinance institutions (MFIs) can play an important role in mitigating the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on poor households and communities.

The main objective of USAID’s Microenterprise Development office (MD) under this topic is to help MFIs, ASOs, and donors to think more holistically about the economic ramifications of HIV/AIDS and how they might be able to bridge the gap between prevention, treatment, and the economic strengthening of affected households and communities.

Specifically, MD’s research seeks to:

  • Help MFIs recognize the impact of HIV/AIDS on their clients and how they can respond to the disease;
  • Provide ASOs and MFIs with a common understanding of each other’s competencies, and how these different organizational types may form strategic partnerships to better address the diverse health and financial services needs of HIV/AIDS-affected households and communities;
  • Guide donors and practitioners on how to better develop economic strengthening or health programs that more holistically address the socioeconomic challenges present in HIV/AIDS-affected communities.

MD has developed a series of microNOTEs on economic strengthening and HIV/AIDS that share innovations and lessons learned by MFIs and other institutions operating in HIV/AIDS-prevalent environments.

MD’s research focuses on building a common understanding between ASOs and MFIs by improving the information gap between them. MD examines the reasons that ASOs and MFIs are concerned about increased household vulnerability due to HIV/AIDS and explains the role that microfinance can play in addressing this vulnerability. Further, MD offers guidance to health and financial service providers on how best to form strategic partnerships to address the socioeconomic needs of their target populations.

In addition to the microNOTE series, USAID has funded the SEEP Network to develop an online guide (HAMED) that provides practitioners and donors with guidance, case studies, and consultant contact information on microenterprise development in HIV/AIDS-prevalent areas.

Furthermore, the research under this topic has resulted in the dissemination of the curriculum, Microfinance and HIV/AIDS: Defining Options for Strategic and Operational Change, in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa, and Haiti, including the Aftercare Guide (an action planning tool for MFIs).

Also, with funding from MD and the Canadian International Development Agency, an action research project was implemented by Development Alternatives Inc., ECIAfrica and the Mennonite Economic Development Associates to support four MFIs operating in an HIV/AIDS-prevalent area in Mozambique. This action research project provided technical assistance and funding to the MFIs to implement HIV/AIDS mitigation interventions. For more information regarding the results of this action research, see Responding to HIV/AIDS within MFIs in Mozambique: Lessons Learned from an Action Research Project.