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Three Actions for Successful USAID - Private Sector Partnerships

 

Partnering with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) can be a major opportunity for nonprofits and private sector partners alike. But it can be a daunting process, especially for companies that are new to partnering with them. In response to this issue, the USAID Private Sector Engagement (PSE) Hub has conducted a months-long listening tour and accompanying survey to identify challenges their partners experience and opportunities to build new solutions for future collaboration. They shared their experience with the Connective Impact community. Here are three actions they plan to take in the near future.

1. Relationship Manager & Industry Network

While USAID assigned relationship managers to private sector firms for years, the role did not have formal requirements or standardized functions. In addition, one relationship manager may not have the bandwidth to stay abreast of all the opportunities across USAID’s geographies and technical sectors, and firms want to partner across these institutional lines. In response, the PSE Hub plans to formalize the Relationship Manager role with training and certification to ensure a more uniform experience. They are also building an Agency-wide global industry network to support Relationship Managers with the insight and information they need to promote partnership more strategically and effectively.

2. “Front Door” for Partners

The Relationship Manager network will improve existing partners’ experience, but what about new potential partners who do not have existing relationships with USAID? Making “first contact” with USAID can be daunting if you do not know where to start. In response to this feedback, the PSE Hub will build a “Front Door” for new partners who are seeking to partner, with guidance on how to navigate the often complex Agency. This will allow the PSE Hub to enter the partner into their system and identify an appropriate Relationship Manager for them if the opportunity arises. The online “front door” portal will give more complete, accurate, and consistent information to new potential private sector partners and streamline and standardize their entry into the Agency. This should result in a more uniform experience and promote inclusion of smaller firms who have less bandwidth to devote to pursuing relationships with USAID.

3. Customer Relationship Management

In addition to formalizing support systems and creating a clear entry point for new partners, USAID also plans to take a page from the private sector’s playbook and implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This will allow the PSE Hub to monitor the progress of individual relationships (ensuring that conversations do not fall through the cracks) and also assess USAID’s progress and effectiveness at overall partner engagement. While CRM usage is fairly standard in the private sector, implementing it at a large government organization is a major undertaking, which will hopefully result in improved service and engagement for partners.

The Takeaway

In spite of the complications private sector partners have historically encountered when partnering with USAID, 70% of the USAID partnership survey respondents said that it was worth the time, cost, and effort to do so. By formalizing Relationship Manager training and support, creating a way for new partners to connect with USAID, and implementing a CRM program, the PSE Hub Partner Experience Team hopes to improve that number. They invite partners to participate in the 2022 partner survey on how to improve the USAID partner experience. That survey will be released later this year. USAID looks forward to continuing this conversation with its partners via the survey and the Connective Impact community.

A full report of the webinar and suite of additional resources will be made available to Connective Impact members.

 

About Connective Impact

Connective Impact regularly hosts webinars for its members and guests from the public to learn about how to identify and partner with organizations in the international development community. Sign up below for the free Connective Impact newsletter, which includes weekly funding updates and resources. In addition, learn how membership in the Connective Impact community can support your fundraising and partnership needs.

 

 

 

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