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Inclusive business models invariably require partnership: companies need to go beyond their core skill set to develop inclusive and durable supply or distribution chains, design and scale products for Base of Pyramid consumers, and manage risk in innovative business plans.  Partnerships with businesses, NGOs and government can all bring essential pieces of the puzzle to the table.

This month, the Practitioner Hub for Inclusive Business and The Partnering Initiative, with support from the UK’s Department for International Development, are focusing on the role of partnerships in delivering inclusive business. We explore why and when partnerships are necessary, why they can be so challenging, and how those challenges can be overcome.  A range of on-the-ground examples- from SAB Miller in Africa to SAFICA in Haiti – share successes and failures. Don’t miss our new ‘checklist’ and tools to support partnering for inclusive business.


Partnerships are hard work. So why invest in them?

  • Setting up a Public Private Partnerships should be one of the last things you try, given the length of time they take to develop.  Joost Guijt looks at the role and challenges of PPPs, and other types of partnership that can work for inclusive business.
  • SNV explores strategies to scale impact and the role of partnerships.  Scaling impact is different to scaling business models and a simple linear plan won’t work. Floortje Jacobs and Jan Ubels explain why the multiple dimensions needed to scale will involve several types of partnership.
  • Tom Harrison takes a different perspective arguing MNCs need to be ruthlessly commercial when engaging in partnerships.   Drawing from personal and sector experience of both success and failure, Tom demonstrates that if a partnership is delivering a social objective but not a core business objective, it risks dependency and failure.
  • What’s in it for an NGO? Positive impacts of sustainability, scale and additional funding streams have to be balanced up against reputational, strategic and identity risks.  Christina Gradl from Endeva explores.
  • Caroline Ashley draws together learnings from recent webinars, global meetings and blogs to ask are partnerships just a distracting dead-end or a sustainable solution?

What is a partnering Agreement, why is it needed and how do you design one?

Access the step by step guide.
A host of partnerships examples are explored by our contributors, shedding light on what, why and how partnerships are having an impact.
  • For SAB Miller partnerships can mitigate risk says Andrew Chishiba Kambobe, as in the Itawa water springs case in Ndola, Zambia.  They can also secure and diversify sourcing, as seen with their Eagle beer, switching from 100% sorghum to a blend of sorghum and cassava, widely produced by smallholder farmers.
  • Portable Toilet Solutions are being rolled out by Laguna Water in the Philippines, tapping into a range of partnerships, describes Fatima Palces Laperal. A core B2B contract with the system vendor is complemented by roles of government, investors, donors and the Toilet Board Coalition.
  • SAFICA is using partnerships with product suppliers, MFIs and NGOs to distribute solar lamps to clients. Tom Adamson explains how each has enabled fast progress in sales.
  • Q: What do a fertilizer company, an industrial sack manufacturer and a construction group have in common?  A: they have built partnerships for their IB in Mozambique, with the support of LINK. Todd Kirkbride investigates.
  • Freshmark in Zambia is using a partnering approach to improve smallholder produce supply capacity in order to source locally. Choongo Chibawe identifies the main challenges of trust and clear goals and objectives and how they have been tackled.
  • Both PPPs and corporate-NGO partnerships have played a key role in the development of the oilseed sector in Uganda. Rowena D K Namatovu shares examples and learnings.

Other contributors are drawing on a range of experience to draw out lessons about how to do partnerships better

KNOW HOW New to partnerships in inclusive business? Don’t miss our newly updated overview, with all the information, resources and links in one place.

WEBINAR Listen to the recording and download the resources from the webinar on partnerships delivering inclusive businesses with Sean de Cleene (Yara International) Darian Stibbe, (The Partnering Initiative) and Simon Brossard (Hystra). now has over 150 documents on partnerships, including 16 added in the past week. Access them today.


  • Our editor’s choice this month looks at the reasons, phases, principles, ideas and tools of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in the MSP Guide  from Wageningen UR's Centre for Development Innovation.
  • PPP Canvas is a tool to measure multi-dimensional partnerships, which combine various objectives from financial return to social impact, by developing a common language, managing expectations and enhancing clarity about key aspects of a PPP, describes Astrid van Agthoven. Access the user guide to try it out today.
  • What makes strong partnerships in a supportive inclusive business ecosystem? A new TPI brief by Jessica Scholl draws on insights from Endeva, UNDP, and Harvard Kennedy School.
  • Access support provided by Connect to Grow, which partners enterprises in Africa and South Asia to innovate and increase their impact. In this blog Daniel Idowu reviews how Agricultural Concern Kenya is using the programme to meet Indian enterprises to help set up a model micro-dairy enterprise.
  • How can you assess civil society organisations and business partnerships? ECDPM provides a guide to measuring success of these relationships and Karim Karaki provides an example from Kenya, where the SNV innovation fund developed a dairy partnership, delivering system change as well as a specific IB model.
  • Looking for more publications and resources on partnerships in inclusive business? We list some key resources.
Join us for a series on how to viably market and distribute beneficial products to the BoP

6:30pm Delhi | 4pm Nairobi | 2pm London | 9am New York

22nd June Webinar 1: designing a winning value proposition and financial offer
29th June Webinar 2: choosing an appropriate marketing approach
6th July Webinar 3: setting up effective (last mile) distribution mechanisms


Our monthly series only go to members on the Hub. Pass this on to others and encourage them to sign up here for free

The Practitioner Hub is sponsored and funded by Ashley Insight with support from the Asian Development Bank and the Inclusive Business Action Network of GIZ.

The Partnering Initiative is an international NGO dedicated to driving widespread, effective collaboration between civil society, government and companies towards societal innovation and sustainable development. This publication is sponsored by the UK Department for International Development (DfID).

The views presented here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of DfID, TPI or Ashley Insight, and do not constitute professional advice. We welcome feedback on our publications – please contact us at

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