How can we systematically engage business as a partner in development?

Very important topic and great questions! Below are my responses to question #1 and #4

What are the barriers to more direct engagement of business in the post-2015 agenda development, and what are the best ways to overcome these obstacles?

The barrier is to help business align their core business goals/decisions with those in the post-2015 agenda. Business needs to see that it is in their core interest to be a partner/participant in the post-2014 development agenda. The good news is the post 2015-development agenda seems to be much more inclusive than its predecessor (MDGs) so there has been more voices from the business community and civil society. There was a CSIS’s Panel Discussion earlier this week on this topic and business representatives were in presence. Tam Nguyen, CSR Head of Bechtel, indicated that usually there are two narratives of business engagement in the development agenda: Either "companies are indifferent" or "there is not much that business can do". However, he indicated that US's MNCs have been more and more informed and engaged so that they become partners for sustainable development. The video recording of the discussion is now online at:

What are the most effective methods of impact assessment that you have come across, either through a partnership or elsewhere in the field of development?

There are frameworks that can be used to measure impacts of a partnership. For example, at IGD, we developed practical business-oriented impact measurement frameworks that align with core business goals. Based on this framework, we also developed a tailored approach to measurement of a specific public-private partnership. For example, we recently worked with Visa and the Government of Rwanda to measure their partnership for financial inclusion. If you’re interested to learn more about this effort and findings from the report, please visit:

Why continue to push on a door that doesn't have to exist?

The best examples are always those who do something and forget about the need for representation. Business is not an equal partner business and community are the drivers - the legislature are an international barrier.

Credibility in development comes from achieving the aims of the project - when working on a project in Southern Africa we invested so much money in the process of accreditation by the time we had got all the necessary paperwork we had finished the project - shipped the components in and sent a small team out as volunteers to get the whole thing commissioned and working. So the system helped us get the second and third units in.

Sorry the barriers are really artificial and time-consuming so remove them create an international standard if necessary and let business get on with it

Really great point, Amanda. Have you seen the development sector taking this message on?

The description of what is happening in Tanzania is an exciting one! Governments should provide the lead on setting priorities - whilst consulting broadly across sector. The priority areas for cross-sector partnerships then, should be based, first and foremost, on the priority development needs of the country. This is key to ensure that initiatives including contributions from business are aligned with priorities.

The question of the role of SMEs in all these discussion comes up regularly. Are SMEs beneficiaries? Or are they partners in development? While an essential part of economic development, particularly when it comes to distribution of wealth, we often hear that SMEs are so focussed on paying next month's bills that they don't have the time or funds to invest in wider societal development. Hence most programmes are around supporting SME development, rather than SMEs playing an active role to drive development beyond doing business.

well, I am not sure we need to be defining a "legitimate way" for business to play a meaningful role in a country's developemnt process, it should be self-understandable business is one of the biggest contributors to and actors in achieveing development! Business is as interested as Government in seeing a country develop and prosper - "development has been the business of business until the development agents came along" - is a quote I remember from last year's pre-UNGA events around engaging the private sector. I agree that business and governments approach developemnt in a different way and speak differently about it but in the end all ae interested in achieving outcomes or should be...

Dear Zahid, to my knowledge there are many other countries in Africa where business is playing an active role in development planning process. I know that in South Africa in our latest development planning mechanisms (the New Growth Path, the National Development Plan, etc.) business was a key partner in discussions but also in implementing critical development goals for the country not only in areas of economy, infrastructure, employment, climate change, but even in areas such as health, education and housing... there are great benefits of business working hand in hand with government on development, however there are a lot of risks also which civil society groups will tell you all about :-)

We've heard some great examples already of multi-stakeholder platforms for driving action at the national or local level Any others?

This relates to the third emarging finding from TPI's research: Multi-stakeholder platforms can drive partnership action at the national and local level. In parallel to the development of the roadmap, TPI is undertaking a thorough analysis of country-level multi-stakeholder platforms. These appear to be a successful means to catalyse multiple, locally-rooted partnerships based on clear shared objectives and linked to clear outcomes. Have you participated in a platform, and if so what has been your experience?

Hi Thuy - you make an interesting point that in your view the post-2015 process has been more inclusive than the MDG process. Its great that the business community has been engaged in the post-2015 dialogue like never before, but building on your point, business engagement should not be at the expense of other legitimate stakeholders... civil society organisations, citizens...and of course governments - the post-2015 framework is after all an inter-governmental agreement.

There are some good examples - typically from big NGOs that have been working on this for some time. But they're very much in the minority I think.

How do you see the relevance of this for Mexico ? I worked there for 4 years in the ingo world, and just got back last week from there … Tho not work related. I’m seeing huge changes in Mexico. What are your thoughts ?

Neissan, those are great examples. Are there any links you can share? Can you say a bit more about how you reached out business - was it through existing national business platforms?

Agree. Actions, ie normally putting money where you say its has to be spent, counts more than words. Experience, doing things together, reinforces trusts, collaboration (going beyond cooperation)

One message that came through clearly in a consultation in Nigeria is that we need to get past old idealogies that say that business profits and development benefits cannot go together. Easier said than done. At the same time as government needs to open up its development planning to include business, so business needs to demonstrate it is acting responsibly and sustainably and in the interests of the country as well as its own interests. Only then can we really drive the vision of business and development reinforcing each other.

Sally, can you share a bit more in terms of the priorities around which you see a need for partnerships?

You need to make a concrete effort to educate and engage the SME. Otherwise only large companies will be heard. From a GDP, contribution to employment, etc. perspective, voices should be different for a start up than for a large MNC.

This is a really interesting finding. Whilst successful partnerships can be hugely beneficial, they require a lot of effort and support. They need a supportive enabling environment of which there are several components... I agree that platforms are key and in particular are critical at national level where stakeholders – including civil society – can come together to discuss areas of common interest, build mutual understanding of issues and opportunities, and explore possible collaborations. Such platforms could also provide a mechanism for delivering critical expertise in areas such as partnership brokering. In addition they can become a focal point for learning in relation to measuring impact (one of the other questions to be discused). There is probably much to learn from the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement....would someone like to comment?

Get the governments to be accountable, transparent, really democtratic. Governance is/should be a big part of the post 2015 goals.

Yes there are already existing platforms such as the Chamber of Commerce and its subsidiaries, but also associations such as Businesss Unity South Africa (BUSA). But also each and every sector has its own outreach and business relations. Nowadays our President usually takes a bunch of CEOs from some of the major corporations in the country when he goes on State visits and engages in trade negotiations with other countries. Thats another example.

Hi all,

Interesting conversations. My contribution on: What are the barriers to more direct engagement of business in the post-2015 agenda development, and what are the best ways to overcome these obstacles?:

Our work with Base of the Pyramid (BOP) business models and BOP ventures show that you can only expect business to step on board when:

- the partnership is action oriented and pragmatic (beyond talking)

- adjust language and avoid jargon

- problem - solution analysis is clearly aligned

- their main driver is respected and recognized: entering new and profitable markets and finding solutions that are commercially viable