Free Zambia Partnering Toolbook: An Essential Guide to Win-Win Collaboration for Sustainable Development

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This toolbook is designed to support the uptake and delivery of partnerships that contribute to sustainable development in Zambia. It provides the rationale for forming these partnerships and offers a range of practical tools that can help people work in partnership more effectively. The toolbook supports the work of the Zambia Business in Development Facility. It draws on international experience from The Partnering Initiative; an extensive scoping study; extensive desk research; and interviews with key stakeholders in Zambia in December 2014 – February 2015.

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A systematic and professional approach to managing partnerships can reduce timescales and increase impact. While all partnership situations are context-specific, there is one general challenge typical of all partnering that needs to be navigated. This is the inevitable discrepancy between the urgency of need and the (sometimes painfully slow) pace of partnership building and development. A systematic and professional approach to developing partnerships can speed up the partnering process and build robust, effective collaborations.

The toolbook explains why business has a critical role to play in development, defines cross-sector partnership, offers some examples, and provides a perspective on how partnerships may help to resolve development challenges in Zambia. It then sets out the main stages of the ‘partnership lifecycle’, illustrated with the help of a fictionalised local partnership. It outlines the main challenges associated with working in partnership and provides some guidance in overcoming them. The toolbook concludes with a set of partnership tools and a brief overview of further support available.

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What is the role of business in development?

The greatest contribution companies can make as development actors is to conduct responsible and sustainable business. Business is the engine of growth and provider of livelihoods. It allows a country to reduce reliance on imports and can bring in essential foreign currency through exports; it generates taxes; it delivers essential products and services efficiently and affordably, and it can drive technological innovation.

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This is why private sector development and job creation are an essential part of government development plans, and there are a significant number of programmes from government and development agencies to support and encourage private sector growth. Business becomes a ‘partner in development’ when it looks beyond its immediate short-term priorities towards building longer-term business and societal value. There are many ways in which it can do this:

  • Develop new market opportunities that can provide affordable essential goods and services, such as a highly fortified foodstuff or low-cost water and sanitation, or introduce technological innovations such as payments by mobile phone or tablet based school lessons.
  • Invest in localising their supply chain, or support an increase in the quality, quantity and reliability of its suppliers, such as farming cooperative groups.
  • Develop ‘inclusive business’ models – business approaches that deliberately target the underprivileged as employees, suppliers or distributors.
  • Make strategic investments that reduce business risk and support the ‘competitiveness’ of the communities in which they operate or the country as a whole: social investments in building technical skills, health provision or small business development; investments in infrastructure, or supporting collective action against corruption.
  • Contribute philanthropically to the communities around them to support their reputation and ‘social license to operate.’

None of the examples above, however, can be done by companies working alone. Companies must work with other actors, from the public sector to NGOs, from international development agencies to other companies. To be most effective and make the most efficient use of everyone’s resources, all sectors of society must work together in partnership to achieve business and societal prosperity.

You can download this toolbook for free here.

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