Loading... please wait

Practicalities of Partnership Building | Strategic Dialogue

programming partners:

darden v IBIS e1635454842752 - Practicalities of Partnership Building | Strategic Dialogue

USGLC Horizontal Logo 1 e1635454941594 - Practicalities of Partnership Building | Strategic Dialogue

Beth Hurvitz, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Social Impact, Visa, Inc.
Rhett Buttle, Founder and Principal, Public Private Strategies
Daniel Baker, Managing Director, Growth Markets, Accenture Development Partnerships
Algene Sajery, Vice President, Office of External Affairs and Head, Global Gender Equity Initiatives, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation
Veronica Chau, Partner and Director, Sustainable Investing and Social Impact, Boston Consulting Group
Mary Margaret Frank, Senior Associate Dean, University of Virginia Darden School of Business; Concordia Advisor
Thomas Debass, Managing Director, The Office of Global Partnerships, U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships
Hanne Dalmut, Senior Director, Partnerships, Concordia
Paul Gunstensen, WASH Director, Stone Family Foundation
Emma Margarita Iriarte Carcamo, Executive Secretary, Salud Mesoamerica Initiative
Clement Silavwe, CEO Rural Electrification Authority of Zambia
Maggie Hug, Director, Regional Education Initiatives & Partnerships, U.S. Department of State
William Warshauer, President & CEO, TechnoServe

Strengthening the partnering ecosystem lies at the heart of Concordia’s mission. Hanne Dalmut and Thomas Debass opened the discussion by introducing the 2021 Public-Private Partnership (P3) Impact Award nominees, who represent cross-sector collaboration at its best.

Mary Margart Frank introduced the five finalists: 100,000 Strong in the Americas Investment Fund, The Cambodia Rural Sanitation Development Impact Bond, the Standard Microgrid/Zambian Rural Electrification Authority project, Beyond Extraction: Economic Opportunities in Mining Communities; and Salud Mesoamerica Initiative. Each finalist presented a brief video and answered questions from judges Beth Hurvitz, Rhett Buttle, Daniel Baker, Algene Sajery, and Veronica Chau.

The Cambodia Rural Sanitation Development Investment Bond works to construct and install latrines to decrease the prevalence of open defecation and provide access to sanitation to everyone. A Development Impact Bond is a finance mechanism to achieve a specific social benefit or goal. It requires an impact investor, an implementing NGO, and outcome funder. In response to judges’ questions, Paul Gunstensen explained how the program works from the village level up.

For the Salud Mesoamerica Initiative, unequal access to quality health services for mothers, babies, and adolescents in Latin America is a challenge. Indigenous women are three times more likely to die during pregnancy, birth, or the postpartum period. The poorest teenagers are 3-4 times more likely to get pregnant, and the babies of women and girls with the least education are three times more likely to die before their first birthdays. The Initiative works to help governments improve effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of care by blending funding and results-based financing models. Dr. Emma Margarita Iriarte Carcamo underscored the importance of listening to people’s needs and paying attention to the community’s practices and knowledge. She noted that the framework has been successful throughout Latin America and could be replicated anywhere in the world.

The partnership between Standard Microgrid and the Zambian Rural Electrification Authority intends to deliver electrification to rural areas in Zambia that suffer from a massive energy deficit. Excess electricity produced by 1,600 solar-powered milling plants is directed to provide affordable power to local communities. Clement Silavwe noted that milling plants can also serve as hubs for other services like banking and education. Over the next four years, the project should reach 250 additional villages.

Young people are entering a globalized workplace. The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund was formed and launched to catalyze student development and mobility across the Americas, build internal capacity in higher education, and expand inter-regional partnerships. Public-private partnerships along with the higher education sector identify strategic academic themes that are crucial to a region’s development needs and offer opportunities to study internationally. Maggie Hug explained that one of the program’s strengths is its flexibility in terms of thematic programming, educational institution, and student location.  

Beyond Extraction: Economic Opportunities in Mining Communities aims to support social-economic development for communities that surround mining operations. The project includes three pillars: enterprise development, job force development, and value chain development. Additionally, the project takes into account ecosystem building and the mining value chain. William Warshauer said that the model could also be used in communities with waning industries outside of mining.

Concordia’s Hanne Dalmut then invited the presenters and judges to discuss lessons learned. Chau expressed her interest in the projects’ innovative approaches to funding, while Iriate added that formal partnerships are mirrored at the local level and Hurvitz noted that having “skin in the game” at every level and clear, results-based metrics made good sense. Buttle explained that these successful initiatives indicate how far the field has progressed, while Gundersen expressed that the wide range of initiatives inspires hope. 

Debass asked how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the ability to develop partnerships. Hug spoke about how the virtual component has strengthened, stating that the pandemic has highlighted the need for private sector partners. Gundersen noted that local relationships have worked with the government to hand out hygiene materials and promote vaccines in Cambodia. Warshauer explained that the pandemic has changed the way we work, including improved efficiency in digital communications. Iriate said that the approach to systems thinking and collective behavior in health information has made communities more ready to tackle the pandemic, while Silavwe explained that the pressure of the pandemic has strengthened partnerships with local communities. 

Dalmut asked the following question: if each initiative had unlimited financial resources, how would they scale? Dr. Iriate said she would scale beyond sectors and geographies, Gundersen would improve the existing project, Silavwe would improve access to information on the ground, and Hug would focus on resources, climate, and more resources. Closing the session, Frank challenged participants to balance the issues of scale and sustainability. Scale involves financing and sustainability requires projects that funders want to support.


There is nothing more powerful or timely than partnerships.

Thomas Debass

We’re delighted how the partnership is delivering transformational change in Cambodia.

Paul Gunstensen

Salud Mesoamerica has the lives of children and women at heart. They are the passion that drives our actions.

Emma Margarita Iriarte Carcamo

The notion that we put around the solar milling plants is actually one of making it a rural business hub.

Clement Silavwe

100K is a cornerstone of our regional development strategy, working across sectors… It is embedded into the policy of our team.

Maggie Hug

It is a model that starts with a market diagnostic to understand what the opportunity set looks like.

William Warshauer

It really embodies the mission of what Concordia goes toward, which is strengthening the partnering ecosystem.

Hanne Dalmut

We are in our eight year. Who would have known where we would be eight years ago with the global impact we’re having.

Mary Margaret Frank

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Innovative approaches to financing are needed. The partnering landscape is seeing a continued shift to results-based financing models that rely on clear and contextualized success metrics.
  • To scale up projects, capital expenditure and financing are required, but so iss a need to share risk. 
  • A successful PPP—referring to public-private partnership in the context of this conversation—requires another set of Ps: Perseverance, Patience, Passion, and Performance. This is particularly important in a remote/virtual environment that the pandemic has forced so many into. As one speaker commented, “partnerships” is a contact sport and the lack of direct engagement elevates other fundamental alignment aspects of partnering.
  • Read Judge Dan Baker’s thoughts on the importance of P3s towards addressing complex problems here.