Over the course of two days an unlikely group of leaders from corporations, non-profits, multilateral organizations, local companies and governments met to discuss a critical topic: Partnership for social good. After a couple of days of reflection, I’ve now emerged with a renewed sense of conviction in the power of partnership. Most professionals who have worked on inter or intra-company partnerships understand that it is a delicate dance between two or more parties and much like courtship, effort is needed to lead a successful partnership. Here’s what I’ve learned on what works and what doesn’t:
Trust and Transparency
Have you ever walked out of a meeting with a potential partner or client with the distinct feeling that the other party was holding back and had deep seeded ulterior motives that they did not reveal? While it seems obvious, trust and transparency are the foundation to any successful human relationship – and the business world is no different. Mistrust seems to especially arise when the private and public sectors collide. If you are a for-profit organization like Eneza Education, it is completely ethical and sound business practice to openly share partnership goals that are linked to your bottom line, such as an increase in users. Similarly, if you are a public sector or non-profit organization it’s healthy for you to express interest in partnering among other things, grow your brand awareness.
A Shared Vision of the Future
At Eneza Education, we have proven ourselves as the leader in Africa for mobile education with over 800,000 users across SMS, Android and Web. While we have the internal technology, content and business expertise, we seek partnerships with organizations that complement our knowledge as we scale and expand across the continent. Safaricom (Vodafone subsidiary), our partner in Kenya believes deeply in our product and is able to support with expertise in marketing, distribution and mobile connection. While Safaricom may seem like an unlikely partner for an EdTech company, after an open and honest goal alignment process, each party realized that empowering and changing the lives of African learners was a shared goal. That being said, it is important to examine your purpose for the project. You should be able to clearly define your vision and reasoning for partnering, as well as the unique value proposition that your organization brings to the relationship. Find your Win-Win and drive forward with determination.
Systems of Support
No successful relationship is complete without the proper mechanisms to continuously monitor, evaluate and refine on the partnership. Ensure each party has a lead person who can dedicate a significant amount of time to reflect and meet all outcomes. This will allow you to lessen the risk for both parties by clearly defining internal rules and processes. Like your most fond personal relationship, no partnership is strong without the support of your network, so make sure there is a governing board or accountability system to keep the partnership on track.
Finally, no matter the stage of partnership you find yourself in, continually think about your ideal romantic relationship. Is the foundation of your relationship with your partner based on trust? Do you all have a similar vision for the future? Are you supported by your family, friends and peers? If you are able to answer “Yes” then you’ve likely found your lifelong mate – or business partner.
About the author
Andrew Byrd works on Eneza Education’s Business Development team. Boasting more than 800,000 users, Eneza plans to expand to 50 million by 2022. Our award-winning platform offers users unlimited access to nationally aligned educational content for 10 shillings a week (10 cents USD). Founded in 2012, we exist to serve the needs of mobile learners everywhere, on any phone.