New HIV/AIDS network launched in Southern Africa …

In July 2002, eight grantmakers from across Southern Africa[1] decided to launch a new collaborative network to promote more effective cross-border responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis. The Southern African HIV/AIDS Intermediary Grantmaker Collaborative (SAHIC) will aim to ‘to strengthen grantmaker capacities to defeat the spread and effects of HIV/AIDS in the Southern African region’.

Activities will include expanding regional and cross-border initiatives, sharing information on HIV/AIDS trends and programmatic best practices, and deepening the effectiveness and sustainability of indigenous grantmakers.

In 2000–01, the Synergos Institute conducted a study investigating the size and scope of current HIV/AIDS initiatives, the capacity needs of the grantmaker/foundation sector and the feasibility of creating a regional HIV/AIDS network. The key findings of the study were that:

  • A general lack of capacity to support and implement effective community-level programmes is a key constraint in fighting HIV/AIDS.
  • Local grantmakers/foundations can play an effective role in channelling funds to community-based HIV/AIDS programmes and in building the capacity of CBOs/NGOs.
  • Grantmakers need to work collectively to influence government policy.

The SAHIC initiative grew from this research and consultation, which culminated in a meeting of grantmakers at the Rössing Foundation, Windhoek, Namibia, convened by Synergos, in July 2002. Since then, a core group, chaired by Alicia Pieterse, Director of INTERFUND, has been working to elaborate the concept and strategic framework for the collaborative and to widen participation in the emerging initiative. At a Johannesburg briefing hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in March 2003, the SAHIC concept was presented to a meeting of local foundations and grantmakers, as well as a delegation from the Synergos Global Philanthropists Circle. Currently, a consultant team is working with the SAHIC core group to elaborate a strategic framework document and a plan of action.

Both the new Synergos Southern Africa Regional Office in Cape Town and SAGA (the Southern African Grantmakers’ Association) will work closely with SAHIC, providing facilitation, convening and technical support.

1 The founding participants of SAHIC are: Foundation for Community Development (Mozambique); Community Foundation of the Western Region of Zimbabwe; Rössing Foundation (Namibia); INTERFUND (South Africa); AMREF (South Africa); Aids Foundation (South Africa); Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (South Africa); Social Change Assistance Trust (South Africa).

Barry Smith is Regional Director, Synergos Institute, South Africa. He can be contacted at

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