Frequently Asked Questions
Why would businesses want to get involved in activities like this?
A: Businesses experienced in partnering to improve community and workplace well-being tell us they are motivated for a variety of reasons including "enlightened self-interest." When asked about their interest in partnering with organizations from the nonprofit and public sectors, many businesses respond positively, but with caution. They cite a lack of trust among sectors as a reason. Related to this is difficulty in finding a partner from outside the business sector. Most nonprofits and public agencies we consult express the same concerns. For these reasons, they welcome a mechanism like the Health and Business Roundtable (now known as the Partnership Forum) that we created in Indonesia to help businesses and others build trust and overcome other obstacles they see to partnering across sectors. See What Others Say About Us.
What makes your approach to observe, interview, and engage businesses different from what others are doing?
A: In any given location, we ask businesses and community organizations one-on-one what they think will work. This contrasts with the approach most commonly used by health and development organizations that use research on how businesses can benefit to motivate them to support health services. We also work with a local partner trusted by all sectors to help businesses and others interested in cross-sector partnering to design a mechanism that will best meet their needs for cross-sector partnering to improve community well-being. Working with a local partner also increases the likelihood of producing sustainable local resources for partnership building.
How do you involve government in the process?
A: All organizations recognize that government involvement is essential for sustainable results. However, our research and experience indicate that deciding when to involve government can be a challenge. We respond to what locally based businesses and community organizations think is the best sequencing for involving government agencies. In Indonesia, government agencies are not members of the Partnership Forum because one of its guidelines organizations defined for participating is that individuals representing organizations speak unofficially, a criterion not applicable to government officials. That does not preclude participants from creating partnerships involving government agencies. The first partnership that resulted from Forum participation in Indonesia involved a government health clinic, multinational company, and local nonprofit. Today, Forum members work closely with government officials in a number of ways. When members initiated two special interest groups, one on HIV/AIDS and one on family planning/reproductive health, they included government agencies. However, the third group they created, on business and education, follows the guidelines of the Forum and is for businesses and nonprofit members only.
How do you know your model developed in Indonesia will work elsewhere?
A: We think in terms of adapting our model, not replicating it. Each place is different. Our consultative process ensures that what we do, and how, will respond to locally defined needs and interests. That said, we find many of the same needs and challenges elsewhere that we encountered in our early research and later in Indonesia. The most notable challenge continues to be mistrust among the business, nonprofit, and public sectors.
My organization does not focus on health. Is your work relevant to me?
A: Businesses and community organizations in Indonesia originally created a partnership-building mechanism to improve community health that included reaching more women with health resources. They called it the Health and Business Roundtable Indonesia. It is now known as the Partnership Forum. From the beginning, however, while all businesses and community organizations that joined were interested in health, most were not focused on health. Membership today includes businesses from nine different industries and nonprofits that work on virtually all development issues. Many join because they want to learn how to work with each other on development overall. This diversity enables members to learn more about how health and other development challenges are connected, including the benefits of reaching more women with development resources. This diversity also increases the applicability of tools and information we produce to a wide range of interests including health.
How many partnerships have been created by ACCESS Partnerships?
A: Our model is structured to reflect our commitment to producing local resources for partnership building that can be sustainable. This means we work with a local organization and measure our success by its sustainability as a resource for partnership building. We also measure our success by the sustainability of the mechanism we and the local organization help businesses and community organizations create to increase their abilities to partner. As a result, we are one step removed from directly being able to measure the number of partnerships created. In Indonesia, we have anecdotal evidence that several partnerships were formed as a result of participation in the Partnership Forum.