The Building Blocks of Successful Shared-Value Partnerships with the Private Sector
The USAID-funded Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation (P4I) program partners with private sector agribusinesses to sell transformational products, innovations and services to smallholder farmers worldwide. The P4I program and its pay-for-results partnership model were designed to make donor funding easier to manage and more attractive to private sector companies, with the objective of aligning commercial interests and development objectives to achieve mutually-beneficial goals.
Over the course of nearly 10 years and 75 diverse partnerships, P4I has received a wealth of thoughtful feedback from the private sector about what makes for a successful shared-value partnership with the development sector. This report presents the key takeaways from P4I’s analysis of that feedback in order to better understand what the private sector needs and values from a partnership with development organizations and donors. In particular, it draws on in-depth partnership exit interviews, results from a 2021 P4I partner survey and P4I knowledge products rooted in partner experiences and inputs.
The key finding of this report is that, from the private sector’s perspective, the success of P4I’s partnerships is built on the two core aspects of the P4I model — a private-sector-friendly partnership structure and capacity building and support services — and four partnership characteristics — alignment, flexibility, efficiency and transparency, and engagement. Taken as a whole, these components indicate that private sector companies value a fine balance from donors and development actors between:
- Meeting private sector partners where they are: Aligning with companies’ core commercial interests and context, embracing their need for adaptation and easing the burdens and bureaucracy of partnering with the development sector.
- Adding unique, nonfinancial value: Harnessing knowledge, networks and influence to engage as business partners, offer guidance and support, and provide opportunities for networking, promotion, capacity building and technical assistance.
P4I’s experience is limited to working with agribusinesses to extend products, innovations and services to smallholder farmers. However, the fundamental lessons learned regarding what the private sector looks for in a partnership with development actors are applicable beyond food security and agricultural development programming. As such, the audience for this report includes all development organizations, donors and public sector actors pursuing shared-value partnerships with the private sector to achieve development goals.