Yes to Joan;s point - the great thing about this sort of partnership is that there are different things on which you can’t compromise so that the core value is actually enlarged…
From Transactional to Transformational Social Impact Partnerships, How Can We Partner More Effectively?
A3 Going back to the importance of longevity and ongoing dialogue, even when you’re in a bi-lateral partnership, your extended networks are critical to making the change you want to see happen, because no matter how skilled and credible both parties are, there will inevitably be other organisations beyond the partnerships who hold most credibility with local stakeholders and can make your efforts go further. For example, our global partnership with Save the Children is 6 years old, but we’ve been working together for over 10 years; and CARE International and GSK have been working in partnership since 2011. We have sought to leverage our broader NGO relationships wherever we can.
A3: Challenges to developing transformational partnerships? Paradoxically: 1) Taking too much time in the development phase and 2) taking too little time in the development phase.
There is a huge risk of over-designing a partnership to death. Spending months arguing over governance structures, designing every tiny detail; creating ambitious workplans months in advance. The reality is that ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’. In other words, it’s only once you get going in earnest that you really begin to understand the context, understand each other’s working styles and limitations, really build up the relationship, get a proper feel for the function required in reality (which might no longer be supported by the form you’ve created). You just need to get going!
Partnering is a process. The development phase is absolutely essential to help build understanding between the organisation, begin to build the relationship, negotiate a partnership which will clearly create value for all of you and deliver more than the sum of its parts, check a decent level of compatibility between the organisations and get sufficient internal buy-in from your organisation. You can’t rush the process!
To get around the paradox, we recommend getting going on something relatively modest together, some low-hanging fruit. Prove that you’re able to deliver together, understand far better the context and the obstacles, build trust through actually delivering together and then design the partnership based on the realities on the ground, not your theoretical assumptions about the context and about each other.
Joan, thank you! It is so important to recognize the importance and role of women in many developing nations and economies around the world. Women often have been the ones to drive agricultural production and are very successful entrepreneurs. As you mentioned, for too long they have been unrecognized in being a catalyst for change.
Agree! Our work with Cargill has benefitted from the expertise and involvement of other partners through our extended networks, including local NGOs, Cargill customers, etc.
Agreed there is no exclusivity here - in fact cross-referencing for wider SDG type impact is essential (eg we also have partnerships with FFI and TechnoServe)
This is great advice, Darian. Thank you!
Before we go I do want to add that private-sector-NGO partnerships offer huge untapped opportunities for making progress, but it would be great to start seeing wider, longer-term coalitions forming across even broader stakeholder groups in society, such as governments, universities, cities, all pooling resources to tackle systemic challenges on key issues like health, education, and economic empowerment. The SDGs are a helpful catalyst for thinking in that kind of way and offer a common language for all stakeholders on these issues.
That is the end to our LIVE portion of this online written discussion, but please do all feel free to continue adding your comments, questions and insights. This page will remain up for you to see and be able to take notes from and add to.
A massive thank you from me and everyone at Business Fights Poverty to all contributors and attendees, with special thank you to each of our expert panellists.
Many thanks, all, it’s been a pleasure! Do feel free to get in touch via Linked In.
for Austrian NGOs we have recognized that in specific contexts it makes a lot of sense to actually design projects&programs around including vulnerable groups in partner countries into the market themselves. In doing so, the become their own drivers of change: empowerment and ownership
Thank you all for the great practical discussion!
thank you very much for all the great comments and inspiring approaches!
This has been a fascinating discussion to observe. Whilst the commentators and examples have centred mainly on international programmes, does anyone have experience of UK-based programmes and social impact partnerships - especially around health and social care initiatives?
Yes! And there are already some promising emergent practices, for example the Scale Up Nutrition movement with multi-sector (i.e. cross-ministry), multi-stakeholder (i.e. including business, NGOs, academia etc.) collective action on nutrition.
Thank you for this lively discussion. I am Brenda a Nutrition Specialist/Consultant based in Uganda and have spent the last 10 years working for the UN and other organisations delivering nutrition services in East Africa and beyond.
I think the talking on public and private sector partnerships for nutrition has to be moved to regional, country and even lower levels and certainly, the UN has to be supported to lead this process. Governments, civil society and other stakeholders need to be taken through what needs to be done and should be practically supported to develop these partnerships.
We need to work on building trust and treating each other like equal partners but my hunch is that this is a process that will take time. Are we prepared to put in this time and effort?
I feel quite encouraged that there are so many like minded individuals on this forum however, we need to be doing the talking where it is needed most.