Partnership Workshops Confirm New Opportunities for Social Entrepreneurs & Business

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Businesses and social enterprises are increasingly realising the mutual benefits and new opportunities from working together, IBLF has concluded after co-hosting workshops at last week’s World Skoll Forum.

IBLF, UK consultancy SustainAbility and design company IDEO hosted two workshops on Strategic Partnerships Between Multinational Corporations and Social Entrepreneurs at the Forum, where over 600 people from a range of sectors met to discuss social enterprise.

Both meetings were over-subscribed and attended by more than 60 cross-sector participants. The high-turn out demonstrated a strong cross-sector desire and excitement in making these relationships successful, and revealed the importance of understanding how partnerships between business (large & small) and social entrepreneurs are contributing to increasing social impact.

“There is a real sense of excitement right now about social entrepreneur/business partnerships,” said Darian Stibbe, Development Director at IBLF. “Businesses see social entrepreneurs as a source of innovation, insight and energy – to maximize their social investments or to develop new market opportunities. Social entrepreneurs see the potential of businesses to use their staff, business acumen, infrastructure, brand or funding – to help bring their ideas to fruition and take successful ideas to scale.”

“Exploring Drivers and Challenges”, the morning session led by Sophia Tickell, Chairperson of SustainAbility, unravelled the drivers, opportunities and challenges around these partnerships and their execution, exploring the areas business and social entrepreneurs should focus on to benefit from their respective strengths and complement each other in addressing the challenges.

Participants were shown a supporting video produced by IDEO, which showcased key Social Intrapreneurs – a term which describes corporate changemakers who innovate and deliver market solutions to some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges- such as Gib Bulloch from Accenture, Santiago Gowland from Unilever and Kerryn Schrank from BP. These individuals represent strategic entry points for social entrepreneurs seeking to build sustainable partnerships with businesses.

Building on the morning session, Darian Stibbe concentrated on the process of developing successful partnerships. The session took as a starting point IBLF’s Partnering Cycle – a framework to help analyse the various stages of partnership – with groups examining the critical moments, challenges and successful practices involved in each step of the process.

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Source: International Business Leaders Forum (link opens in a new window)