HIV/Aids Threatens SME
March 19, 2003
Posted to the web March 19, 2003
The future success of Small and Medium
Enterprises (SME) and the livelihood of many South Africans
could soon be off the economic radar screen if business fails
to deal with the destructive HIV/AIDS threatening the SME.
This is according to a research on the
impact of HIV/AIDS on the SME in the country.
The survey, conducted by Ebony
Consulting International (ECI) - an organization that provides
economic solutions to businesses and governments throughout
Southern Africa - was released during a seminar on the disease
impact on economy in Pretoria yesterday.
It warned of disastrous consequences the
epidemic could have to the growth and development of the
country's economy if the disease was not arrested and
The ECI operations Director William
Grant said the study was conducted because SME played a vital
role in providing employment in South Africa, adding that the
disease threatened the livelihood of many workers.
Mr Grant said of the 120 firms
interviewed - 25 percent in Durban, 50 percent in Gauteng, and
25 percent in Cape Town - it was found that most firms were
concerned about the decrease in productivity, while (18
percent) were concerned about loss of skilled staff, due to
the effects of HIV/AIDS on employees.
He added that the economical impact was
measured by differentiating between direct costs such as the
payments, recruitment, training expenditure and indirect costs
such as on-the-job productivity and increased absenteeism.
The study also found that firms, which
incurred indirect cost owing to the impact of HIV/AIDS,
experienced shortages of skilled labour, problems with
absenteeism (23 percent) and a decrease in staff morale.
Nineteen percent of the firms
experienced AIDS-related deaths amongst staff.
The South African Chamber of Business (Sacob)
said last year that with an absenteeism rate of about 15
percent - usually caused by strikes - there was an estimated
production loss of some R225 million per working day.
This means that if absenteeism is
recurrent due to people falling ill and not coming to work,
the production loss could be devastating to SME's.
Mr Grant said that SME's needed to act
now to educate their workers about the epidemic and form
partnerships with other firms who were succeeding in their
fight against HIV/Aids in their workplaces.