Making Change Happen, on a Deadline

By Tina Rosenberg

The PreFabricated Building Parts Production Enterprise in Addis Ababa is a state-owned company that makes concrete walls and other structures, mainly for the Ethiopian government’s low-cost housing program. Public-sector construction companies in the third world are not generally known for energy, flexibility, risk-taking or creative thinking. PreFabricated, in other words, does not seem like the kind of business that would or could do astonishing things in a hurry.

Like many companies in AIDS-wracked Ethiopia, PreFabricated had an AIDS policy, which included extra pay for its H.I.V. positive workers so they could buy more food. In March, 2008, the company decided to do more. It set a goal of persuading 70 percent of its employees — 700 people — to get tested for H.I.V. in 100 days.
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