03/05/2008 10:30 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011


I may be working in the land of precision timepieces and fine chocolates today, but my meetings are all about the technicalities of delivering results to (RED) shareholders in Africa.

Geneva is base for the Global Fund team managing HIV/AIDS grants to Swaziland, Ghana and Rwanda, made possible by (RED) consumer action around the world. It is also home to the experts who evaluate the impact of in-country systems for distributing resources, including anti-retroviral medicine, to the millions of men, women and children in Africa, who are alive thanks to the two pills a day that (RED) money buys.

The Global Fund, the world's leading funder of programs to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria, was the first international financing body to invest in a massive scale-up of anti-retroviral treatment in developing countries. It enables countries to design and execute their own programs, based on local needs, but is performance based, so it provides funds only on the basis of proven results.

100 percent of the money generated by (RED) shoppers is put to work on the ground in Africa with the help of some of the Global Fund individuals with whom I met today. They assist in ensuring that the money is spent with the highest degree of impact - that lives are saved and results measured - all without taking any overhead expenses from (RED) contributions.

How do they accomplish this? As (RED) co-founder Bobby Shriver would say, by sweating the details.

Global Fund Portfolio Managers hold local recipients accountable by looking for specific evidence of capacity to perform against goals and by setting targets that are measurable right from the beginning of the process. In other words, they don't just ask countries "what do you want," they focus on what success should look like and how it can be tracked and tested over time.

The analytical team at the Fund explained that the number one thing they assess is evidence of people reached by services - i.e. lives saved through treatment and prevention. Decisions are grounded in impacts on actual individuals. They ask who benefited, how and when. Through a system of checks and balances, they monitor, evaluate and audit data to determine whether targets are hit before disbursing additional funds.

Unlike some donors, the Global Fund looks at outcomes not inputs. Another distinction is the role of civil society plays in both the governance of the Fund (they have a seat on the board) and program creation and implementation (they are a part of each country's program coordination group). Grant progress reports are also publicly available like this one about our efforts in Rwanda.

The Global Fund's high degree of due diligence, ongoing engagement of key stakeholders, and public transparency is critical. It is what led (RED) to choose the Global Fund as the recipient of the money contributed by (RED) partners when consumers chose (RED) over non-(RED) products.

As I leave Geneva, I'll pass by the huge automobile show that the city is hosting this week. High performance takes many forms. The Global Fund shows us where the rubber hits the road on the path to eliminating HIV/AIDS in Africa.