Planning Your Partnership

No matter how it starts, every partnership under consideration goes through the same due-diligence process that ultimately produces a “go” or “no-go” decision. While partnerships don’t always follow a linear path from the due diligence process to implementation and completion, here are a few common “pieces” of public-private partnerships you can expect.


Our Opportunity Explorer: Private Sector Engagement tool provides an initial exploration for businesses into the world of public-private partnerships with Feed the Future. A private sector team, located within the USAID Bureau for Food Security, supports the tool and will be your first personal point of contact in helping connect you to the right people to initiate a partnership. Sometimes, businesses may reach out directly to USAID Missions or other partnering government agencies to explore partnership opportunities.

Maximizing success:


The creation phase, also known as co-designing of a partnership, is often the longest and most complicated piece of a partnership. Unlocking U.S. Government resources for a partnership, while following regulations that govern the process, can take time. This may require modifying an existing program and/or developing a new one. If public and private partners find alignment in their goals, a partnership agreement may be signed after choosing a type of partnership and project. Please be prepared for the process of starting a partnership to take anywhere from 6 months to a year, depending on the type.

Maximizing success:

  • Familiarize yourself with U.S. Government regulations regarding partnerships
  • Designate an inspired leader in your company with passion and commitment to spearhead the creation of the partnership
  • Allocate enough time and resources to get through the co-designing phase
  • Schedule an adequate timeline for the project to evolve into a sustainable operation


Once partners co-design the project, public and private sector partners sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalize the relationship. The MOU, while not legally binding, helps define expectations of performance, including roles and responsibilities, helping all parties get on the same page in a formal, written document. Implementing partners, who are often brought in to help operate the project, sign a grant and/or contract with the relevant Feed the Future agency. Resource partners (the private sector) and implementing partners may have their own MOU or contractual relationship outside of the U.S. Government’s relationship with either partner.

Maximizing success:

  • Understand that MOUs generally define the roles and responsibilities of each party, but often do not commit specific resources
  • Define and ensure all parties understand their respective roles and responsibilities


Partnerships usually last from two to five years. In most cases, partnerships are implemented by a third party, also called an implementing partner. Most projects have annual work plans. Recognizing that U.S. Government and private sector priorities shift over time, partners should meet annually to review the work plan and make sure they are all on the same page.

Maximizing success:

  • Align reporting requirements across all partners involved to respond to U.S. Government-required targets and indicators for tracking results, as well as business ones
  • Create regular, formal communication rhythms among partners
  • Be flexible to adjust to shifting U.S. Government priorities (and ensure there is adequate funding to allow for flexibility)
  • Prepare in advance for the day donor funding will end


The U.S. Government provides robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) on all Feed the Future projects, including public-private partnerships. M&E helps determine if each participant is conducting business according to the goals of the project and achieving results. At times, there may be alignment between Feed the Future indicators and business ones, which helps enhance the overall partnership and makes it easier to track and report success.

Maximizing success:

  • Set specific goals about what your business wants to achieve
  • Determine potential alignment between business and development indicators
  • Build transparency and shared budgetary oversight into management of the project