In order for non-profit organizations and Professional Service Providers to build sustainable partnerships, they need to adapt a client-focused attitude in their relationship building process instead of the traditional seller-focused approach. This means that instead of trying to get things from people, ask yourself what you can do for them! The first step to learn about your potential donor agencies clients you need to grasp their funding priorities and socio-economic country development strategy. This is a huge job entailing lots of reading and extraction. The best and easiest way is to track their issued tenders and grants notices. These Request for Proposals are the direct translation of the client's investments and can easily provide you with an understanding of of their key funding priorities, thematic areas of interest and their preferred project delivery methods and implementing approaches. Immediately think about the value you, as an implementer and a Professional Service Provider, can bring to the support or advance client's development strategy
Remember partnership assessment goes both ways! Development Projects Implementers and Professional Services Providers should carefully assess if a Development Aid Provider is the right client, along the following criteria:
- an informed business opportunities assessment
- taking the client’s financial resources into consideration
- informing oneself about the clients tendencies in dealing with their partners and contractors
In the discussion, workshop participant Ahmad Farag, Manager Foreign Agreements Department, Social Fund for Development advised to carefully study the international donor’s country-specific strategy. Adam Saffer, Chief of Party (COP), SEED Project (USAID Contractor), encouraged the participants to even go a step further: “In a time when international groups are increasingly delegating to local firms, it is beneficial to get in touch directly with international implementing partners or contractors who are likely to be awarded contracts, and to try to partner with them and submit proposals jointly. The earlier you’re engaged with the bidders, the better!” He advised to include face to face meetings in order to strengthen partnerships: “Organizations don’t do relationships, people do!”
This point was also stressed by Andrea Jud, who argued in her presentation that while partnership with aid providers is key, implementers can also greatly profit from establishing partnerships with other implementers. This is true for non-profits and for private companies, for big projects as well as on a smaller scale. Ghada Sharif, Business Development Services Senior Advisor, SEED Project (USAID Contractor), recalled the success story of an in-kind donation circle of organizations “Instead of partners working each on their own contributing to a small scale in the strategic agenda of development, the more partners come together, the more their contributions and capabilities are capitalised upon and enlarged, exactly as with the idea of a ripple effect, especially if we are set to achieve sustainably successful impacts. If you look at best practices world-wide, experience has proved it is only through smart and competent partnership models that we can truly produce constructive achievements of peoples’ well-being through development work. An example would be a partner contributes with the capacity building curriculum, the other contributes with the centres to conduct training, and the third supports the outreach plan and so on.” She added “In Egypt, the opportunities are huge. The challenge is to make the efforts sustainable!”
Freelance consultant Laila Maghraby recalled her successful experience in a USAID Trade Facilitation Project in partnership with the Egyptian Engineering Industries Council she represented at that time. She stated that the success of such partnership was based on the common vision of the project delivery which is that exporting is vital and is the most successful approach to sustainable economic growth.
Mahmoud Refky, Director of the Assiut Alumni Association recalled one particular experience when his organization established a successful partnership. His association presented a winning project delivery solution, including an expanded outreach to beneficiaries, which in turn has added value for their client.
The argument for an informed partnership was underlined with three client examples: The Vodafone Egypt Foundation, the Mobinil Foundation, and the American non-profit organization Kiva Microfunds. By demonstrating their partnership requirements as well as their successful projects, all three examples showed vast opportunities for informed partnerships. For example, to establish a winning partnership with Kiva microfunds, businesses and organizations should be able to show their capacity to access underserved communities and that they can also provide the recipients with other social services such as education and health awareness along the provided financial products. Such added value is called social performance and is appreciated by Kiva in a potential client. Likewise, NGOs with access to vulnerable communities can partner with ICT companies in order to develop new innovative ways to serve their target groups and to apply successfully for grants from corporate funders such as the Vodafone Egypt Foundation and the Mobinil Foundation.
In our next DARPE seminar on February 28, 2016 we will discuss the business opportunities for private sector companies that can capture within the Development Aid Industry.