Switch Your Cellphone, Fight AIDS

5 Oct 2006
Americans can now fight AIDS in Africa by switching to a product RED cellphone or buying clothing that's part of the RED line. Bill Gates and others on how products from Converse, Gap, Motorola and Armani can fight AIDS in the poorest countries.

(RED), the brand founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise money for the UN Global Fund, is launching in the US and the New York Times explains how it works. Here's some highlights from an excellent piece.

'Products from Converse, Gap, Motorola and Armani will be sold under the Red brand. Promoters want the companies to make money. Those companies, along with Converse and American Express, created the new products, which bear the brand name Red and are to begin appearing in stores this month. The companies are committed to selling the products for at least five years, and plan to donate part of their profits to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
If the Red products sell the way the companies' other products do, the fund stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars annually -- enough to provide AIDS medications to hundreds of thousands of Africans each year.
The campaign was created by the musician Bono and Bobby Shriver, a California politician and member of the Kennedy family. Both are leading advocates for the Global Fund. The fund, which will collect and distribute money from Red in Africa, says the hundreds of millions of dollars each year given by world governments is not enough to provide medications to all of the people who need them....'

"Red is one of the first major efforts to tap more Americans to contribute to fighting AIDS a continent away. And they can do so simply, just by switching their cellphone or buying some of the clothing that's part of the Red line," Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman who has made fighting AIDS a center of his own philanthropy, said in an e-mail message Mr. Gates said he was at first skeptical that the group would be able to persuade large retailers to participate. "I wasn't sure they would get enough companies on board to make Red a viable entity, and whether it could generate enough revenue for the global fund to make it worthwhile," he said. "I was pleasantly surprised on both counts."

"Red products have been in stores in Britain since February, and the share of profits that has gone to the fund passed the $10 million mark last month, said Richard Feachem, the executive director of the Global Fund. That is twice what the fund received from companies and individuals from 2002 to 2006, he said. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been the largest nongovernmental donor to the fund, pledging $650 million.
"I could go with my begging bowl every year to a major corporation and say 'give me some money,' and they might give me a one-off contribution, but it wouldn't be large and it wouldn't be sustainable," Dr. Feachem said. "Red is intrinsically sustainable because Red is good for the companies."
With the $10 million it has earned so far from Red, the fund is financing testing and treatment of HIV-positive women and children in Rwanda and is taking care of orphans in Swaziland whose parents died of AIDS, Dr. Feachem said....

(RED) was created to raise awareness and money for The Global Fund by teaming up with the world's most iconic brands to produce (PRODUCT) RED branded products. A percentage of each (PRODUCT) RED product sold is given to The Global Fund. The money helps women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Read more here.

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