Nerd alert! We loved reading the latest from the Scaling Pathways series – Leveraging Government Partnerships for Scaled Impact. USAID, Skoll, Mercy Corps and CASE interviewed over 100 social enterprises to summarize lessons learned for social entrepreneurs scaling with government partners. Here are a few of their takeaways!
“• Determine whether to “Build First” or “Build Together.” When determining whether to develop and prove a model alone or to build together with government, enterprises considered their partnership goal and need for ownership, and typically ended up customizing a solution between the two extremes.
• Determine type and level of evidence needed. Enterprises went beyond impact evidence and recognized that evidence needs may become more complex in later stages or in donor-dependent countries.
• Find and cultivate the right champions. Interviewees leveraged organizations already working in-country, sought contacts interested in iteration, institutionalized relationships through MOUs and contracts, and found ways to decrease the physical distance between champions and solutions.
• Demonstrate true partnership with listening, humility, and respect. It may seem obvious, but according to interviewees, it is worth repeating: approach government with respect and humility, communicate regularly, and show how you are responding to feedback with change.
• Proactively manage—or avoid—politics. Enterprises spread out risk by engaging across political ideologies, working with technical experts, managing multiple projects simultaneously, and being wary of promises made around elections.
• Help maintain quality of impact over time. To ensure continued quality of programs (especially when government takes over implementation), enterprises recommended the following: breaking solutions into small steps; creating roadmaps while still empowering partners to adapt; using test sites to iterate; creating monitoring tools; and seeking sustainable funding sources.”
We think this is great advice for all teams looking to scale innovation with governments! Understanding the type and level of evidence needed (especially when it comes to costs) and helping maintain quality as the government takes over are crucial areas that we see overlooked all the time.