Webinar 5: Secure and leverage partnerships to scale up your social enterprise

This is the fifth webinar in a series supporting the Social Procurement Capability Program. In the fifth webinar we:

  • Discuss the benefits and watchouts of partnering with other organisations.
  • Shares tips for identifying and researching potential partners for your social enterprise.
  • Discuss how to identify value propositions for potential partners.
  • Find out how to effectively pitch to potential partners.

In this webinar we are joined by three guest panellists:

  • James Muskett, Head of Sales at IPA. James is a senior manager who is passionate about social procurement. He is particularly interested in the role that social procurement champions play in driving successful business partnerships and recently spoke at the SEWF. IPA is a national recruitment agency that is commits 100% of its profit towards services that support people wit disability via its parent organisation.
  • Sarai Tuuga, National Social Enterprise Manager of yourtown. Sarai is also a board member with QSEC. Yourtown provides transitional employment for young people by delivering private and government contracts in building refurbishment, landscaping, fencing, grounds maintenance and cleaning services.
  • David Campbell, Senior Project Manager at Lend Lease. His focus is on social sustainability. Lend lease partners with like-minded, not-for-profit, community organisations and social enterprises to create social value. In 2020, Lend Lease announced their goal to create AU$250m of social value by 2025.

Key advice

Why should social enterprises form partnerships?

Forming partnerships is a great opportunity for both social enterprises and mainstream providers to access new business. Regardless of if you’re looking at being procured by industry or government, there are many benefits to establishing partnerships with other organisations. Some of these benefits include:

  • Complementing each other’s value propositions
  • Bolstering capacity and expertise
  • Generating greater social value

How do you identify and set up a successful partnership?

Opportunities for successful partnerships can come in many forms. One of the ways to achieve a partnership is through identifying an internal champion at the partner organisation. An internal champion often has values and a vision that aligns with your own. Partnership opportunities may also come about through more direct methods, such as new relationships being formed with subcontractors of existing partners and other social enterprises through the supply chain. A successful partnership can lead to scaling and expansion into other areas as well as creating increased awareness about social procurement within the partner’s industry.

What are some challenges to forming and maintaining partnerships?

Challenges that a social enterprise might face in a partnership are:

  • Changes with partner engagement due to staffing changes.
  • Differences in expectations and outcomes leading to mismatches in delivery.
  • Maintaining respect and communication with the partner, even in the face of financial losses.

How can we overcome these challenges?

Social enterprises can overcome these challenges by:

  • Ensuring expectations are effectively communicated to the partner.
  • Clearly communicating what your social enterprise has to offer and what your value add to their organisation is.
  • Understand your partner’s decision-making process and identify key decision makers.
  • Continually working on maintaining the partnership.

How can social enterprises best position themselves for a successful partnership?

One key approach is to be honest with yourself about what you as a social enterprise can offer, what you cannot offer, and what you would like to offer. Analysing your own capabilities and history and matching them with the requirements of the partnership opportunity. If there is a gap between what is being asked and what you can offer, you can leverage different partnerships and organisations. This may involve approaching competitors or organisations in the same industry for open dialogue, negotiation, and collaboration to jointly win a contract.

Additionally, when social procurement clauses are present in a contract, it can be a huge opportunity to have a seat at the table and collaborate with others to deliver something for the benefit of everyone.