Charities and corporations have much to learn and gain from each other by pooling ideas and resources making corporate-NGO partnerships incredibly valuable and mutually beneficial.
With corporate input and backing, charities and NGOs are able to think and create at larger d with broader innovation than they would alone. Similarly, corporations can learn about social and environmental issues, improve their social engagement and expand their portfolio of services in new and unfamiliar markets.
Oxfam and insurance company Swiss RE worked together to provide Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation (HARITA), insurance for Ethiopian farmers against the risks of climate change on their crops. Swiss RE’s had the expertise to develop the service and willingness to adapt their products and expand into new markets and philanthropy. Oxfam could then contribute their own knowledge and understanding of the country, its culture and its environment. Together, they were able to provide a positive and lasting service, addressing the needs of smallholder producers through a mix of risk reduction, drought insurance, and credit systems to allow cash-poor farmers to work for their cover. Oxfam could broker the deal and put up collateral on behalf of the farmers that couldn’t do themselves.
Here, the NGO is able to devise and provide a vital service that previously didn’t and probably wouldn’t otherwise have existed. The corporation in turn receives information and assurances that allow it to explore an unknown market with confidence, as well as tailor its product in such a way that it becomes accessible and more importantly, successful.
CARE Bangladesh and Czech footwear manufacturer Bata partnered to help the former tackle female unemployment and the latter challenge rural distribution obstacles. Together, they recruit and train local women, enterprising villagers and selling Bata products door to door. CARE can provide jobs, a stable income and an enhanced status to the 3,000 women involved in the programme. The women receive a commission for every sale resulting in an average income of about $80 per month, more than double the country’s minimum wage. It also uses its expertise and infrastructure to transport small quantities of shoes to a network of distribution hubs around the country for which it receives a small commission. As for Bata, they have access to a developing market of new and future consumers. The brand gains increased exposure and consumer loyalty and sales have increased by 120% per year.
This kind of relationship benefits both parties as the NGO now has access to an employment platform with which to help its beneficiaries and to raise funds with whilst the corporation gains a willing a motivated workforce and exposure to new and future commercial markets.
WWF, SABMiller and GIZ form the Water Futures Partnership, combining their expertise, resources and networks to develop a model to tackle issues surrounding their overlapping interests: water security. Pooling their various skill sets together has allowed them to invest in improving water infrastructure and ecosystems, engage with consumers to improve water use, accelerate public policy implementation and strengthen water governance. WWF are able to identify the issues on the ground, what needs to happen and where. SABMiller are able to provide resources and financial assistant to the project. GIZ are able to coordinate and carry out the operations.
Without all three stakeholders, the project wouldn’t be practical or sustainable in the long term. Working in collaboration however, they are able to consolidate their various areas of expertise to achieve their goals. Again, the NGOs identify the issues and provide local knowledge and solutions with the corporation using its resources and expertise to put those ideas into practice.
These three examples and many others simply reinforce the notion that regardless of a participant’s motives and governance, they can work in collaboration by borrowing ideas and processes from each other. Combining the knowledge and expertise often possessed by NGOs and the infrastructure and resources of commercial corporations mean that the crossover between charity and corporation benefits both sides of the partnership and allows them to achieve common goals that would otherwise be out of reach.
Alex is a Digital Content Coordinator at Copper