Press release: Sweden’s Minister for Trade to award prize to Raffia Bags Kenya

On 6th December, Raffia Bags Kenya will be presented with an award by the Swedish Minister for Trade, Dr. Ewa Björling, in recognition of its successful and sustainable workplace programme on HIV and AIDS. The Swedish Workplace HIV and AIDS Programme Achievement Award 2011 goes to the company.

Raffia Bags Kenya, which is owned by Swedfund, has over several years implemented a successful programme responding to HIV and AIDS at its workplace through its participation in the Swedish Workplace HIV/AIDS programme (SWHAP). Raffia Bags has supported employees that are HIV positive and has prevented more from acquiring the virus. Due to concerted efforts as well as high participation of all staff, a profound impact has been achieved. Raffia has extended their programme to spouses, giving serious attention to gender issues, and has also gradually expanded from internal activities to external outreach.

“It is a great honour to receive the prize but let us not forget that while 3 people will actually receive it, there are so many other people who are working tirelessly in tackling this huge challenge. The Raffia model has been a great success and it should be rolled out to other companies.” Pieter Nel, MD, Raffia Bags

Raffia’s Peer Educators have proactively reached out to the community by physically being involved in awareness creation among the community schools and churches as well as raising awareness among neighbouring companies. One customer, several times bigger than Raffia, has been assisted by Raffia to even set up their own structured programme.

Addressing HIV and AIDS at the workplace level has increasingly become important for companies in countries with a higher prevalence of HIV. Not only is the workplace severely affected by the spread of HIV, it also happens to be an important arena to address the issue, something Raffia Bags Kenya is an excellent example of. The success of the programme is premised on workers-management collaboration.


Swedish Workplace HIV/AIDS Programme (SWHAP) is a long-term initiative to address HIV and AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. SWHAP currently supports some 90 workplace programmes on HIV in ten countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was jointly initiated in 2004 by the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) and the Industrial and Metal Workers’ Union of Sweden (IF Metall). The main aim of SWHAP is supporting companies and employees to prevent further spread of HIV and reduce the effects of the pandemic at Swedish related workplaces. SWHAP is funded by Sida and Norad.

The SWHAP Achievement Award has been given out since 2008. In 2011 the four categories for the award are Most Comprehensive Workplace Programme; Best Progress in Workplace Programming; Peer Educator Achievement Award; and Most Innovative Intervention. The assessment for the Most Comprehensive Programme Award was carried out through an extensive questionnaire of 17 questions and 68 benchmarks. For more information on the award, please contact info@swhap.org. For more information on Swedish Workplace HIV and AIDS Programme, please visit www.swhap.org.

Raffia Bags is the largest manufacturer of woven polypropylene bags in East Africa. It has offices in Kenya and Tanzania. The company is owned by Swedfund. For more information on Raffia Bags please visit: www.raffiabags.com and for Swedfund: www.swedfund.se

New SWHAP Video

A new video about SWHAP has been published by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and can be found below:

SWHAP Newsletter September 2011

In the SWHAP September 2011 newsletter you can, among other things, read about the Southern Africa regional conference, supply-chain and mentorship initiatives as well as Community Outreach.

The newsletter can be found in this link.

Southern Africa Regional Conference

On 17 – 18 August 2011, SWHAP is holding its Southern Africa Regional Conference in Gaborone, Botswana. The theme will be “leadership in workplace programmes – scale up & sustain”. The Conference will provide an opportunity to discuss and exchange experiences between different workplace programmes as well as look at various forms of leadership and its role in the sustainability and ownership of workplace programmes. Roughly 80 delegates will attend, representing management and employees from a wide number of workplace programmes in six different countries.

Bridges of Hope Training For Peer Educators in Zimbabwe

24 HIV and AIDS Coordinators and Peer Educators from Zimbabwe attended a four day Bridges of Hope training. Bridges of Hope is an innovative Global award winning package of interactive training activities that work in gaining audience interest and participation and can offer renewed energy to stagnant programmes or burnt-out peer educators. This method of training was so effective that during a training session a member of the public disclosed their status to the SWHAP training group. Sandvik participants have gone on to share the techniques they learnt with their supply chain at the Divvyman Policy Launch on 7th June. Sandvik Zambia has also participated in the Bridges of Hope Training and this June will also host another Bridges of Hope training for their Peer Educators.

T-shirt Fridays at ABB

At ABB in South Africa the Peer Educators have decided to wear their Peer Educator t-shirts on Fridays. This is a response to a previous concern that employees didn’t know who their Peer Educators were. The initiative also includes the hand out of leaflets, as well as pictures of the Peer Educators being placed on the notice boards.

Atlas Copco Namibia Policy Launch

Atlas Copco Namibia have finalised their workplace policy and are now waiting to launch and disseminate it. The policy of the company was guided by the policy of Atlas Copco in South Africa.

SWHAP Newsletter June 2011

New SWHAP publications, company savings due to HIV workplace programme, supply chain activities, spouses” programme, network meetings for spousal peer educators as well as for regular peer educators and SWHAP lessons disseminated in India. Read in the latest newsletter about what has been going on lately in SWHAP!

SWHAP Case Study – Malaria Bed Net Distribution

Malaria is bad for business. The disease is responsible for decreased productivity, employee absenteeism, increased health-care costs, and can negatively impact a company”s reputation. Furthermore, malaria has proven to worsen the effects of HIV and AIDS, and vice versa. Several SWHAP supported companies have now included malaria prevention in their workplace programmes.The actions taken to prevent malaria include distribution of treated bed nets to the employees and information given by the company peer educators.This has proven a great success and the results of these cost and resource-effective interventions have been remarkable. To read more about this please refer to the SWHAP Malaria Case Study.