These two quotes highlight the paradox of alliances. On the one hand, most everyone agrees that public-private collaboration is a good thing and needs to be a priority. On the other hand, alliances can be a time-consuming and messy exercise. This particular MD oversaw some of USAID’s best known alliances, so it is telling that they would say something like this. ODP/PSA developed the alliance assessment framework as a tool for USAID and it partners to sharpen its focus in building alliances. The underlying assumption is that by integrating alliance-building with program strategy we can focus on fewer, more strategic alliances that deliver results for USAID, the private sector and our beneficiaries.
How does the alliance assessment process get us to higher value alliances? Mapping of the Private Sector – new, emergent industries, problematic industries and dominant industries. Review of USAID program priorities, including key initiatives Interviews with companies, business associations, focus groups. Have also done surveys ID of 5-10 alliance themes/opportunities where engagement has strategic value for both USAID and the private sector. Building alliances is a time-consuming and complex process. The assessment seeks to ease this by providing offering recommendations for how priority alliances can be built. This enables Missions to not only uncover new opportunities but to also leverage best practice from around the world.
In Russia, USAID’s overall budget is a rounding error for most larger Russian firms. In addition, there is deep mistrust of the USG. USAID/Russia has been a real pioneer in partnerships, eg SUAL, etc The Alliance Assessment enabled the Mission to identify a series of new areas that aligned with the Obama Admin’s ‘strategic reset’ in civil society development and clean energy. These areas are now being incorporated into solicitations and new projects. In South Africa, USAID also finds itself with a budget that is minute compared to the overall economy. However, it also finds itself in one of the most partnership rich environments on the planet. Great companies with a very strong grasp of the impact of social and health issues on their bottom line. Here, the Mission was particularly concerned regarding its small non-health portfolio and how they could use very modest resources in a catalytic fashion to spur private sector investment in areas such as education. The Mission also felt they were constantly being pre-empted on partnerships by other agencies, DC and even the local private sector. By conducting an assessment and strategy they wanted to be able to focus staff resources on those partnerships that could maximize impact.
While the bulk of assessment conducted to date have been for USAID Missions to look across their portfolio, more recently, the assessment framework has been used as a tool during the baseline phase of new projects. For implementing partners, the assessment gives a 360 degree view of opportunities for engagement with the private sector. The assessment uncovers project level opportunities that are tightly aligned with project objectives. For USAID, the project level assessment can be a way of promoting partnerships without having the implementing partner ‘pre-cook’ them. In other words, rather than have a contractor propose alliances in the RFP stage, USAID can have the contractor conduct an assessment and the USAID select the opportunities that offer the greatest value to the Mission.
Traditionally, most USAID alliances have fallen in the EG/ag, Health or education sectors. There have been some DG alliances, but they are still the exception not the rule. Uncovering alliance opportunities in non-traditional sectors can be difficult as the intersection of USAID and private sector interests may not always be obvious. By analyzing trends across a wide range of industries and interviewing a diverse range of company representatives. For example, in West Africa we asked banks and telecommunications firms about how conflict impacts their business – this is a question USAID typically doesn’t ask of a bank. Example 1: USAID has been supporting a Conflict Early Warning System in West Africa for the last several years. However, the audience for the warning reports is largely limited to government bodies. Through the alliance assessment we uncovered businesses that were interested in working with USAID to both improve the conflict warning itself – through integration of political risk analysis conducted for the international investment community – and broaden the audience for the reporting to include civil society, media and the business leaders. By leveraging the expertise of a regional investment bank and the networks of industry leaders, this alliance can increase both the effectiveness and scale of existing USAID efforts. In the longer term it could also improve the sustainability. The second example comes from Afghanistan where mobile operators are interested in working with the municipality to provide SMS-based crowd-sourcing feedback on municipal services, supported by a platform such as Ushahidi. For the operators, the service gets more customers using the mobiles for services beyond voice. For the municipality, it will allow real-time feedback and mapping of service delivery issues – particularly solid waste removal – a key focal point of the project. For local residents, it will provide a feedback loop to their government and enable them to monitor service delivery in their neighborhood.
This is a brand new effort to use the alliance assessment not just as an analytical tool, but also as a capacity-building opportunity for a local organization. In this instance, the organization in question has a good track record of fund-raising, but has struggled to get beyond fundraising and unlock other ways the private sector can provide value (career development, OJT, internships, ICT support, distribution networks, etc). The goal here is not to build alliances for USAID, but rather for a promising local civil society organization.
Brown Bag March 21, 2011
a REAL CHALLENGES. REAL SOLUTIONS. Alliance Assessments: Informing Strategy, Innovating Projects Presented by Steve Schmida, SSG Advisors
Agenda <ul><ul><li>Highlight examples of how Missions and USAID projects are utilizing the Assessment Framework; </li></ul></ul>Illustrate how the Framework is facilitating partnerships in less traditional alliance sectors and contexts, e.g. D/G <ul><ul><li>Review the Alliance Assessment and what it offers; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion about how the Framework can be improved so that it compliments other processes, e.g CDCS. </li></ul></ul>
Alliances: The Promise and the Reality “ Conceptually, I am a fan of partnerships with the private sector. However, these alliances sound great until you actually look under the hood of them. Typically, they are a mess and a distraction to the Mission.” -USAID Mission Director (retired) “… We will look at doing things in more innovative ways, often with the private sector – private companies or private foundations – to really bring a higher level of innovation to the area of development and to bring that creativity and risk taking that often does lead to some of the most important breakthroughs on behalf of the world’s poorest populations.” - USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah
Background on the Alliance Assessment Framework
Alliance Assessments: Tool for Mission Strategy
Alliance Assessments Uncover Innovation in Non-Traditional Areas <ul><li>Improved Municipal Services Through Crowd-Sourcing </li></ul><ul><li>Improved Conflict Early Warning </li></ul>
New Dimension: Building Local Capacity in Kenya <ul><li>Yes Youth Can! (2011-2013) </li></ul><ul><li>Alliance Assessment and Training of Staff on Partnership Methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Goal: To enable Kenyan NGO to leverage resources beyond funding. </li></ul>