“Public-Private Partnerships,” or “PPPs,” have become quite trendy terms in international development circles. But, as is often the case, when one digs just a bit deeper it becomes clear that the definitions of PPP models are incredibly varied. Partnerships can be bi-lateral or multi-pronged with multiple participants under either the “Public” sphere or the “Private” sphere. To make things even more interesting, the “Private” leg of PPPs often includes Corporations and Charities / NGOs under the same grouping despite their significant organizational and mission differences.
Given the complexities of balancing multiple partners with often very different missions, cultures and approaches, questions often arise such as “Why bother?” “Why herd so many cats?”
The most frequent answer is scale. Partnering with the government/public sector is almost always the most efficient path to achieving significant scale and impact. This was certainly the case with C2C.
C2C began, as most NGOs do, operating in an entirely stand-alone, vertically-integrated fashion. Our donors supported our vision of delivering quality healthcare to communities in dire need of it in Haiti, and we built the clinics, outfitted them, staffed them and ran them, entirely by ourselves.
However, we saw that in most cases, communities in Haiti were not lacking access to primary care – in all but the most rural locations there already was a clinic within 2km of most Haitians. Most of those clinics, however, were controlled by the Haitian Ministry of Health and were quite under-staffed and under-resourced. They often lacked any electrical power, lab testing equipment or pharmaceutical supplies.
We saw that a more efficient path to scale was not to build and run new clinics entirely by ourselves, but instead to partner with the government to upgrade facilities that were already in place and manage them in partnership going forward. The government provides access to the clinic building and facilities, staff, training and supplies; C2C invests in upgrading the clinic, adding dependable electricity, lab testing and pharmaceuticals and adding staff at every level to serve all patient needs efficiently. Finally, the fees for patient services are kept in a “closed loop” supporting ongoing clinic operations and ensuring long-term sustainability.
For us this was a classic “win – win” PPP that built upon existing resources to achieve scale and sustainability far more quickly and efficiently than would have been possible otherwise. Not every PPP is as straightforward as the one we have proven with the Haitian Ministry of Health, but all of them share the same vision; combining partners with shared goals and complementary skills and resources enables “1+1=3” scaled impact outcomes.
We at C2C believe we are only beginning to see and feel the potential of the 1+1=3 effect of our partnership and are very excited about the clear path to far more scale and impact ahead of us.