Engaging the Private Sector

Lesson Statement
Public/private partnerships can work. Understanding the exact nature of the partnership and leveraging potential is key as it helps to keep track of Return on Investment (ROI) related to such partnerships and to focus efforts on the types of partnerships that have the highest leveraging potential rather than focusing on specific types of partners.


Different Private Sectors
We engage the private sectors in many ways, at times by necessity and at times in a more strategic way. In the field of ICT for development, the private sector is often understood to be the big multinational companies dominating the IT (hardware and software) world. In fact, while we do engage these large companies at various levels, we also work extensively with small private sector actors within the countries where we implement ICT projects.

Traditional Corporate Philanthropy Model
At time we seek donations, cash or in-kind contributions. This approach, based on traditional corporate philanthropy, has some value, yet limited impacts. Examples include a grant from Microsoft to support the monitoring and evaluation and outreach activities as well as donations of software and computer-based training in the Mali CLIC project.

The Value-Added Model
In some cases, we support a larger corporate activity and our contribution, in the form of technical assistance, is small compared to the corporate entity’s investment. Examples include dot- ORG’s support to the Intel Computer Clubhouses in Brazil and South Africa to address sustainability issues; and add-on training in business practices that dot-ORG provided to the Grameen Technology Cell Phone project in Uganda to enhanced sustainability of women’s cell phone businesses.

The Partnership Model
In the partnership model, each side values the objective of the common activity and contributes to the outcomes. The private sector partner is likely to see the activity as supporting both its business goals and its corporate social responsibility goals. Brazil’s Programa para o Futuro was a good example of this model, with multiple local private sector and non-profit sector partners contributing a range of inputs, including hardware, software, venue, expertise, utilities, clothing, e-mentoring, cash, scholarships, etc..

The Market-Making Model
In the market-making model, the social side helps aggregate the market or prepare the customer base. A key example is that of the Macedonia Connects project, where dot-ORG helped to aggregate the school connectivity market (as one contract), to entice a private sector service provider, namely On.Net, to expand its network nationally, including in rural areas. In that project, other private sector actors, such as Motorola, were also involved in the provision of equipment and services. In Rwanda and Kyrgyzstan, dot-ORG also helped build a market base of customers for local private sector ICT service providers by providing vouchers and/or micro-stipends. Local private sector actors are not always market driven, however, and may see support from the social sector just as another source of revenue.

Challenges
The challenges related to establishing and sustaining partnerships with the private sector include the following:
  • It is difficult for private sector partners and non-profit sector partners to understand each other's worlds and corporate cultutes. Each side operates under different constraints, uses different methodologies. It is therefore important to have some discussions upfront about these differences in approaches.
  • It is often difficult to find a win-win balance where all partners receive benefits corresponding to their contribution levels.
  • Negotiating complex partnerships can be very time consuming.
  • The financial ROI is not always worth the effort.
  • The pressure to satisfy match or GDA requirements can lead to forced or contorted partnerships.

Since none of these challenges are specific to ICT initiatives, lessons learned from multi- stakeholder partnerships involving both the public and the private sector should provide some valuable answers.



For More Information, Contact:
Michael Tetelman
Director, dot-ORG, Academy for Educational Development
Tel: (202) 884-8856
Email:

Related DOT-COM Activity
Brazil - Programa Para o Futuro

Brazil - Strategies for Sustaining and Expanding Computer Clubhouses in Brazil

Kyrgyzstan eCenter Project

Macedonia Connects

Mali CLICs- Establishing Community Learning & Information Centers in Underserved Malian Communities

Uganda - Village Phone Uganda (VPU) Project
Related DOT-COMments Newsletter Articles
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Click on Academy for Educational Development (AED) logo to visit AED
Click on Educational Development Center (EDC) logo to visit EDC
Core funding for the DOT-COM Alliance is provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture & Trade, Office of Infrastructure and Engineering (EGAT/OI&E), Office of Education (EGAT/ED), and Office of Women in Development (EGAT/WID), under the terms of Award numbers: GDG-A-00-01-00009-00, dot-GOV; GDG-A-00-01-00014-00, dot-ORG; GDG-A-00-01-00011-00, dot-EDU.
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