like the treatment for HIV/AIDS, is limited by the prohibitively high costs of the drugs compared with the earnings of most of the sufferers. It differs from HIV/AIDS, however, in that the latter is considered high priority by the United Nations and the developed world. A high-powered international effort is under way to provide sufferers with antiretroviral drugs, and many governments have provided significant funding. That said, malaria has received ever greater attention over the last eight years, and so resources may continue to grow. The drug distribution network for malaria is much different from that for HIV/AIDS, however, and requires different financing mechanisms.
Very often the task of remedying these deficiencies is left to the international and local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operating within the country. These groups are funded by philanthropic foundations, bilateral aid agencies, or international organizations. Their effectiveness is measured in terms of the number of homes or communities electrified, the water delivered or water purification systems installed, or the malaria treatments donated, but rarely are those most in need served by such efforts. Those who are recipients usually do not pay for the products or services, and so such solutions are rarely sustainable. When the funds are exhausted or the interest of the NGO or its donors changes, the service ends. People who have been receiving free power, water, or medicine find there is no infrastructure or commercial businesses to provide these goods and services at affordable prices, and often they are little inclined to pay substantial funds for what they had come to consider a free entitlement.
The strategy of private companies providing public goods and services, which is the subject of this report, has a role for governments, donors, NGOs, and, of course, private businesses. For governments, rather than attempting to provide commodities or services directly to needy communities and families, their policies should be aimed at encouraging private companies to fill these needs while making a profit (sometimes called “doing well by doing good”). The workshop reports outlined in this report and presented more fully in the appendixes describe how companies can operate at a profit in Nigeria while providing poor people with the three products and services used as examples. With profits to be made and where the banking and business environment is congenial, there is a good chance that the solutions will be self-sustainable and not require continual government input. This is particularly true in a vibrant entrepreneurial society like that of Nigeria if the solutions are properly managed and promoted.