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Yasmina Zaidman is Chief Partnerships Officer at Acumen, who has been working with social entrepreneurs to see how solving problems of poverty might align with the activities of large global corporations. As of 2017, Yasmina has been with Acumen for almost 14 years, working with them to continually challenge itself to grow and evolve. Acumen uses business to solve problems of poverty, and has been doing so since its founder, Jacqueline Novogratz, began in 2001. Since then, Acumen has invested more than $103 million in 96 companies across Africa, Latin America and South Asia.
Some of the insights I drew from this podcast include:
- Great partnerships come from two organizations wanting the same thing.
- Choose the right corporate to invest time into, by first finding out if they have the technical capabilities you need, ensure their geographical footprint overlaps with yours, and try to figure out what their interests might be.
- Corporates may seek partnerships with social enterprises to give their employees opportunities to work on social problems, or it may be because they are seeking to grow in the geographies you operate.
- Be ready for lots of conversation to figure out what value the corporate is seeking in the relationship, knowing that there’s normally an official driver, but quite often, there will be secondary, less spoken of, drivers.
- Check out the Skoll-Acumen report (link below) which breaks down the three main types of partnership, which can help to know when going into conversations with corporates
- It is appropriate for the CEO of the social enterprise to be involved, as this is similar to sourcing capital, but within the team, people need good business development skills, such as relationship building and negotiation, and able to build broader relationships within a corporate to mitigate against individual staff turnover.
- Timescales can be issue in these partnerships, and its important to be clear about tlimelines and what happens in times of delay – because they’re all working in a very dynamic, complex environment.
- Bringing in an intermediary, like an investor, is a great way to support the process.
- A skills partnership, when a corporate gives some short term input, is perhaps more appropriate for small, earlier stage enterprises.
- Why energy and agriculture are two sectors that Acumen thinks is ripe for collaboration and ecosystem engagement.
- Some strategies to address the power imbalance when partnering with corporates.
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