Ngena is a little different to many foundations. From the way it funds itself, to the programmes it supports.

How we funded the HIV Programme

We were never sure just how much would be required to provide for the testing and treatment programme . The one thing that we did know was that it needed sustainable, regular and stable funding, which meant that it could not rely on the uncertainty of grants and donations. Once a person starts a treatment programme, there must be sufficient to provide it for life.

With some outside the box thinking, a project to create a funding stream was put in place.  A structure was developed that allowed us to borrow  at a given interest rate, utilise these funds to purchase Asset Backed Securities at a better rate of interest, and have the difference, or arbitrage, flow to the programme as the sustainable, regular and known amount.

All credit to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which at the time understood the need for innovation, and confirmed a $250 million line of credit to a Special Purpose Vehicle, with the proceeds going to a Foundation. Thus was Housing for HIV Foundation, the precursor to Ngena, originally funded.

So as to isolate OPIC from market risk, $50 million of Junior or Subordinated debt had to be raised in addition to their $250 million. JP Morgan, who were deeply involved in the asset selection, were able to place this debt with a number of organisations, on a purely commercial basis. Thus, in September 2004 we closed a $300 million 10-year bullet payment transaction that would see over $30 million flow to the programme over its life-span. Regular six-monthly interest flows saw full service on the debt; this despite the securities being Collateralised Debt Obligations whose underlying assets was Credit Default Swaps. Prudent credit underwriting criteria from the outset meant that despite the financial turmoil of 2007/2008, service was never interrupted.

In July 2013, 15 months before planned maturity, conditions and prices allowed for an early redemption of the securities, at no cost to either the programme or the lender, and with the lenders concurrence the transaction was redeemed early, at full value to all.

Job Done!


A value chain needs stability – of systems, of programmes, of funding. Ngena must fund itself for sustainability. We have done this 3 times before - successfully funding HIV treatment, (USD 300m from OPIC) housing and construction in Africa (Euro 70M from AFD), including South Africa (ZAR100m some 15 years ago). We intend to do this again, and are able to do this in any developing community in any country where there is a need, as long as there is a lender with the foresight and courage!  It needs loans and investment funds from high nett worth individuals, organizations and corporations who are willing to allow the use of their funds for a period of 5- 7 years, at a conservative return. The difference between the return paid to the investor and the market return will be used to fund the programmes.

The risk to the investment funds is no more or less than the usual vagaries of the financial markets. Where possible, tax relief is sought for the investor.

And at the end of the term, the investor receives the capital back, having received the interest over the life of the loan. So we use the funds, but never use them up!

The investment might be able to get better, but will never be able to do better.