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.
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.
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.
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.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
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.