Partnerships in Practice:

6 Obvious Secrets for Success

Organizations during the course of business interact with various stakeholders. Some of these interactions evolve to become longer term partnerships whereas the others don?t. So what exactly makes one interaction last more compared to the others? Based on personal experience, quoting successful a example of rainwater harvesting (RWH) interventions by Engro Polymer & Chemicals, here are a few conclusions:

Background: Engro Polymer, under its market development and social investments activities, has been working towards conserving water by promo-ting drip irrigation and lining solutions. One of the successful partnerships developed is with Sukaar Foundation, a Mithi, Tharparkar based NGO working on promoting rainwater harvesting in Thar. Sukaar believes that improving rainwater harvesting four-folds can address the potable water needs of 1.2M inhabitants of Thar. Under the partnership, three successful models of RWH structures have been created at the cost of Rs. 850,000, benefiting about 600 individuals. One of the models is being replicated by TRDP ? an NGO, at a larger scale with 17 similar reservoirs constructed benefiting over 3000 individuals. More are in pipeline.

Shared vision: The convergence of vision, if not completely shared, should at least be significant enough to develop the relationship. In our case, Sukaar Foundation wanted to create sustainable models of rainwater harvesting while we were looking for an innovative project under the broad theme of Water Conservation that we follow in our market development activities and social investments.

June 2009: First model under construction PVC Geomembrane lining in progress

Mutually beneficial interactions: The perceived benefits of interactions should be mutual and significant enough that the relationship evolves beyond prospecting. In our case, Sukaar was getting technical and operational support to key geomembrane lining elements in their new models. For us it was opening up a new geography and a potentially sustainable business model.

Precious water stored in reservoir being used in dry months

Empathy and understanding: Development organizations work differently from typical corporate entities. Empathy and understanding of each other’s values, culture, operational norms and accordingly, flexibility in interactions is important to progress the relationship. We stayed open and tried to adjust each other’s priorities in our plans. Of course, it’s easier said than done but we managed.

Communication: As always, clear and timely communication played a key role in developing understanding and appreciation of each other?s roles. The importance of rainwater harvesting and its potential in addressing the water woes of Thar, was the first thing Sukaar made us understand. This, then further paved the way for channeling Engro Polymer?s funds into building innovative, and now successful, models.

Beneficiaries ? families save up to 9 hours daily after having reservoir in the neighborhood

Reservoir after holding water for one year, got refilled in July 2010 rains

Delivery: A sustained partnership is dependent on successful delivery: of perceived and expected benefits to all parties involved. In our case it meant, capacity building of our partner, the availability of funds, organized execution. Partnerships can die if mutual interest begins to wither away or delivery is not to the satisfaction of partners.

Positive relationships: The most undervalued factor in successful partnerships is perhaps the positivity of interfaces. People, at the end of the day, make partnerships successful. In our case, the teams on both sides have immense respect for each other?s vision, work, and professionalism.

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Author Information

Favad Soomro is currently working with Engro Polymer & Chemicals and has been associated with Engro?s social investments for over 5 years.

One Response to “Partnerships in Practice:”

  1. This is a brilliant intervention by Engro Polymer and an out of the box idea by Sukaar Foundation. All credit to these organizations for synergizing their efforts and coming up with such a socially beneficial project. Great effort Favad bhai. Keep it up.
    Pakistan Zindabad!

    September 24, 2010 at 11:46 am Reply

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