Facilitating Partnership

The members-only Health and Business Roundtable Indonesia is an efficient way to facilitate multi-sector partnerships. It helps organizations overcome the lack of knowledge on how to partner, lack of trust, and lack of partnering skills that exist in all sectors and are major obstacles to partnerships. 
The Roundtable helps members overcome these obstacles by giving them the opportunity to network and learn from each other about how to partner as they build the trust, relationships, and skills needed for successful partnerships. For example, each quarterly Roundtable off-the-record session features a presentation on a partnership that highlights how the partnerships are formed, implemented, and their results. Presentations are given by members followed by a question and answer period. Proceedings are then used as the basis for case studies. CCPHI provides technical assistance to members with the presentations and the case studies. Those giving the presentations improve their ability to communicate across sectors and increase the visibility of their commitment to sustainable development. Members learn from each other about how to improve partnering skills through brainstorming sessions on specific skills. Their discussions are used to develop tools on partnering skills that can be used by others to improve their skills.

It is important to consult organizations individually to determine their interest in partnering as well as their concerns about partnering with organizations from other sectors. Once several organizations have been consulted it is then useful to convene a meeting of interested organizations to discuss how to proceed.
The process for establishing the Health and Business Roundtable Indonesia involved consultations with several organizations individually and in groups to determine their interest and concern regarding partnerships involving companies. After these consultations, CCPHI convened a meeting with companies and NGOs to discuss how to help them overcome the lack of trust that was the number one obstacle to partnerships noted by all organizations. CCPHI limited the meeting only to companies and NGOs based on the experience of The Fund for Peace (FfP), a US-based NGO that runs a successful project to build trust between extractive industry companies and NGOs. After participants were briefed on FfP's Human Rights and Business Roundtable, they decided to use it as a model to define a process for building trust, but they also wanted to use it to learn more about how to partner.  They agreed on objectives, guidelines for participation, procedures, content, and a timetable using the FfP Roundtable as a model, but made it their own. The outcome was the Health and Business Roundtable Indonesia (HBRI).

A critical element of success is having a facilitator that is trusted, viewed as neutral by all sectors, and having the necessary expertise and experience on the issues that are the focus of potential partnerships.
CCPHI was successful from the start in bringing both companies and NGOs to the same table because the institutions involved, the Public Health Institute, The Fund for Peace, and the Ford Foundation (the funding organization) were respected and trusted by those in all sectors.

Having one or more local organizations implement facilitation activities is essential for sustainability of the facilitation process. It can take time to find the right organization.
The CCPHI project initially identified several as candidates to facilitate the Roundtable and carry out other activities. However, for a variety of reasons none of the initial candidates was able to take on these roles. Management issues, inability to take on new commitments, and the perception of not being sufficiently neutral were among the reasons. Eighteen months into the project, CCPHI found an Indonesian with experience and extensive contacts in both the business and NGO sectors to represent CCPHI. An Indonesian NGO affiliated with the University of Indonesia, PACIVIS-UI, began facilitating Roundtable sessions in Bahasa Indonesia.  The full-time presence of an individual knowledgeable, known, and trusted by all sectors to represent CCPHI and having Roundtable sessions run by CCPHI and PACIVIS-UI in the local language increased the active participation of members considerably. CCPHI was also able to work more closely with members outside of Roundtable sessions to explore partnerships.  This increased to building a sense of community among members. Two years after the Roundtable began members asked CCPHI help them become "a community that can use its collective experience to inform public policies on health." CCPHI is now in the process of becoming an Indonesia NGO that will serve as a resource center on partnership building, also in response to suggestions by Roundtable members.

Before bringing in outside experts, it is useful to tap the experience and expertise that is already in the room to build the knowledge and skills needed for successful partnerships.
CCPHI originally anticipated bringing in outside experts to train Roundtable members on how to find the right partner, how to communicate across sectors, and how to develop other partnership skills. However, we found that there was enormous expertise already in the room. We also found that when organizations are given the opportunity to share information in an atmosphere of mutual respect, they also build the trust and relationships needed for future partnerships.

It takes time to build momentum and create value to sustain a forum such as the Health and Business Roundtable. Members will sustain such a process once they find it brings value.
CCPHI consults Roundtable members regularly to build this value and implements activities to respond to member needs and suggestions. From the start, CCPHI has focused on how to build value so that the Roundtable will eventually be self-sustaining. It took over a year before members began to provide support. Company members now host quarterly Roundtable sessions and members are discussing other ways they can contribute to make the Roundtable sustainable once CCPHI becomes an NGO.

Companies and NGOs want to work with government and see its involvement in partnerships essential to the sustainability of partnership results. There are several ways to help them interact with companies and NGOs to encourage partnerships.
Participants at Roundtable sessions do not speak officially on behalf of their organizations in order for exchanges to be more candid, but public sector representatives cannot speak unofficially. Thus, public sector institutions cannot join the Roundtable. However, this does not preclude their participation in partnerships stemming from the Roundtable. The first partnership to form as a result of the Roundtable includes a local government health clinic. It came about through members working outside of the Roundtable to develop the partnership. CCPHI now regularly assists members in convening meetings outside of Roundtable sessions to explore partnership opportunities and these meetings nearly always include government representatives. CCPHI also helps public sector institutions interact with Roundtable members,through meetings, or by facilitating communications between them.

Focusing on health-related partnerships is the most likely way to engage the largest number of organizations to explore partnerships to improve health.
A major goal of CCPHI is to reach more women with resources to improve health. As the project has evolved, the scope of partnerships that are the focus of CCPHI has broadened as has the range of interests represented by organizations working with the project as members of the Roundtable. The number of members has increased as well. Both the number of organizations and their diversity of interests increase opportunities for members to see how health and other development challenges are connected and the importance of reaching more women to meet all of these challenges. They also increase prospects for more partnerships and opportunities for members to explore partnerships on other development challenges.

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