Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Six of 31 community-based organisations (CBOs) that serve people in HIV at-risk groups in the country’s southern region are becoming social enterprises, moving from free services to fee-based models, as international aid for HIV/AIDS prevention to Việt Nam will end in several years.
The CBOs that serve HIV at-risk groups, which number around 135,000 people, have depended on international aid for years, but now must seek other sources to maintain services.
Speaking at a workshop held on Friday in HCM City, Phạm Thị Thùy Chi, an independent counsellor for developing organisations and companies, said that social enterprises formed from CBOs have a deep understanding about the needs of the groups they serve, but they lack professional administrative knowledge.
Phạm Hồng Sơn, director of the social enterprise G3VN Co. in HCM City, which designs websites and offers other services, said that his company was once a CBO providing services such as counselling for HIV testing for men who have sex with men.
Since members of the LGBT community in HCM City are reluctant to go to hospitals for fear of discrimination, G3VN has set up a “friendly health clinic” to provide services for the community.
“G3VN has pledged to use 51 per cent of its profits to sponsor social programmes which the community needs,” Sơn said.
Lê Hồng Thái of HCM City’s Đá Khóc CBO, which provides HIV prevention services to people who inject drugs, told Việt Nam News that Đá Khóc had merged with the city’s ALOBOY and Hoa Cỏ May CBOs to create the Alofood social enterprise.
ALOBOY provides services such as counselling on HIV testing to men who have sex with men and transgender people, while Hoa Cỏ May serve prostitutes and people who inject drugs.
The social enterprises will offer Alofood products such as fruit and vegetables.
Since these three CBOs provide services to about 5,000 people, Thái said they could be potential customers for Alofood products.
“We will also seek opportunities to co-operate with a trusted company,” he added.
Initially, Alofood employees from southern provinces such as Tây Ninh and Bến Tre will return to their hometowns to work with agricultural co-operatives on the social enterprise’s project.
Alofood plans to donate 52 per cent of its profit to HIV prevention and other social activities, Thái said.
A source from Nguyễn Tất Thành University’s high-tech agriculture faculty in HCM City said the University would counsel Alofood on market development strategies, while Vĩnh Long Green Agriculture Co. has pledged to provide vegetables to Alofood.
A representative from the Việt Hưng Textile Garment Co said the company would work with the general health clinic set up by the social enterprise G3VN (called the Galant clinic) to provide healthcare services to its workers.
The workshop was held by the Centre for Promotion of Quality of Life to help social enterprises link up with companies, organisations and hospitals to ensure sustainability of their services. —VNS