Charity group uses CLSA venue to help mainland children affected by Aids Management consultant Jane Marie Chen spent this week at the CLSA investors' conference trying to meet financial professionals in the hope of building workable relationships for the future. But unlike most delegates, her aims had nothing to do with debt, equity or asset speculation. Ms Chen has taken a sabbatical from her career to work for the Chi Heng Foundation, a non-profit-making organisation which raises funds to help children in central China who have been orphaned by the Aids epidemic that has devastated whole regions. In the early 1990s, the selling of blood became popular in the poorest areas of central China, with rural communities keen to donate in exchange for a few yuan. Many blood-collecting stations operated illegally, using unsanitary practices, and with little knowledge of HIV, the killer virus spread rapidly. Today, it is estimated that in many villages, 80 per cent of the adult population is infected. Chi Heng estimates 1.5 million children have been orphaned, and have little hope of an education or for the future. Ms Chen said a donation of HK$80,000 could educate 150 children - an entire village community - for a year and the organisation hoped to generate sustained contributions from the financial community to address the epidemic. 'Investing in these children will eventually contribute to China as a whole. What's going to happen to them? Their parents will be dead in the next couple of years.' The foundation's aim is hardly typical of a financial conference. In a week where the Hang Seng Index has been flying and fund flows have been at three-year highs, does the investment community actually care? The five-day conference at the Grand Hyatt, where chief executives, government leaders and regional specialists were on parade, played host to more than 1,000 institutional investors from 30 countries. At Chi Heng's small booth, Ms Chen said each day a number of delegates would stop to pick up brochures and ask questions. 'People have stopped by but I wouldn't say it has been overwhelming,' she said. 'People have come and just given us cash, but that was not the purpose of us being here. We really wanted to get exposure to the business world and hopefully forge partnerships in the future that end up being more than a one-off donation.' In addition, the foundation has run two workshops to introduce the project and explain its importance. Ms Chen said the 10-person workshops were about half full. Elizabeth Rosenthal, a reporter with the New York Times - whose articles have done much to expose the tragedy of the situation - was originally scheduled to speak at the conference but could not make it. 'The exposure has not been as big as we would have liked,' Ms Chen said. 'I can't say we've forged any partnerships yet but just being here and talking to people is the first step. 'Now we have a foot in the door it gives us more of a chance to approach these organisations and, hopefully, forge something longer term.' A spokesman for UBS said the bank had a committee to decide which charitable causes to donate to each year and Chi Heng would merit consideration. A JP Morgan spokesman said the bank gave about US$100 million to philanthropic causes but choosing recipients was a difficult task. 'There is a lot of charities out there,' he said.