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The impact of HIV/AIDS on our business

Introduction to the impact of HIV/AIDS on our business community! Firstly, let me introduce you to Veni Naidu who wrote this covering letter and who will be our regular contributor and expert consultant to DirectTalk and our marketing portal - theMARKETINGSITE.com - on HIV/Aids and its effect on our industry and all businesses.

Appropriate management of HIV/AIDS requires leadership and an understanding of the impact of HIV/AIDS. Long-term sustainable responses will only be achieved if all stakeholders are convinced of the business rationale for action. But perception drives action. It is therefore important to understand the perception of South Africa's top business leaders towards making HIV/AIDS a strategic priority.

Veni has been involved in successfully transforming strategic business units within companies and companies themselves over the past 14 years. In 1999, she realised the need for socio-
economic research in the HIV/AIDS field and decided to focus her effort in this area. During 2000/01 year, she embarked on a full-time study (M.Com) titled "Key Challenges facing
Strategic Market Planning in the presence of HIV/AIDS." She chose Strategic Planning because it is an area avoided by most companies and one that is needed by every profit or non-profit organisation to remain sustainable.

Veni is also a contributory author for a textbook on strategic marketing, which is published by the University of Natal-Durban for their MBA students, and supervises MBA dissertations.
Currently she is assisting SABCOHA (South African Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS) mobilising the business community to take action to mitigate against the impact of HIV/AIDS.

South African Overview
We are now well into the new millennium with various business challenges, a declining currency, world recession, interest rate increases, downsizing and amongst them one of the greatest
challenges being the impact of HIV/AIDS on our business.

I have been tracking the macro market environment in which business operates since 1999 and the implications for business from the supply and the demand chain.

Strategic market planning is crucial for any profit or non-profit organisation since it does more than just plan for the future, it creates a future. The future can be influenced and changed by what we do in the present.

According to the ASSA 2000 model in the change scenario, 5,9 million South Africans are expected to be currently infected, with HIV reaching its peak in 2005 of almost 7 million. South
Africa is still in the HIV curve where people who are HIV positive may not be aware of their zero-status, lead normal lives and have greater chances of passing on the disease to someone else.

From 2005 onwards the curve will slant towards people living with AIDS-related illnesses. It is during this phase that people will be in greater need of health care, absenteeism will increase or
people may be forced to stop working altogether. This impacts on income at household level which may force children to go out to work earlier than planned or leave school because of a lack of funds to pay for school fees. Increased health care costs and funeral expenses at household level leads to shifts in the essential expenditure categories such as food, clothing, shelter and education. The impact on the household economy will in turn impact on the demand for the company's goods and services.

It is therefore important for firms to make HIV/AIDS a strategic issue as it impacts all levels of business activity. Direct Talk will publish a series of articles on how HIV/AIDS can potentially impact your business and what you as a marketer and key decision-maker in your organisation can do about it.

I look forward to engaging in debate with you on this challenging and sensitive topic so together we can make a difference and take up the challenge to fight this dreadful disease. Your friend - Veni Naidu

I have no doubt that Veni's contributions on this much needed topic and devastating disease will make a big difference to our businesses and personal lives.

Winnifred Knight
Email: mailto:winn@theMarketingSite.com  
Web: http://www.theMarketingSite.com

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