The year 2020 has taught us some valuable lessons about partnerships. And left a lot to wish for.
Partners for Impact (PFI) was founded in July 2020, in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The impetus to found this new initiative was a strong belief that all successes in international development have been through work in partnership.
The discovery of several Covid-19 vaccines in just a few months time is a prime example of how partnerships can be formed quickly and work well, also under great duress. If there is demand, if incentives are aligned, and if there is a willingness to work together, great innovations can be achieved.
However, as our founding blog outlined, and Covid-19 has exemplified, many organisations in international development remain uncomfortable working in partnership. There is a worrying and inefficient degree of “going it alone” in the sector, which undermines collective impact. Or organisations work in partnerships, but loose themselves in complexity, and loose sight of the impact they aimed to achieve.
Without well-functioning partnerships, and a razor-sharp focus on impact, there is a real risk that life-saving innovations such as vaccines will not reach the people who need them.
2021 will be another litmus test for the international development sector. Is there sufficient willingness to work together – and sufficient willingness to finance this collaboration – to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine globally? Will partnerships place impact front and center of their efforts?