Case Study on a Successful Partnership | Video Introduction at Initial Stages in English | TV Interview at Initial Stages in Arabic | TV Coverage of Main Event in Arabic | Radio Interview at Final Stages in Arabic | Video Reportage on the Program| Testimony by CSP in Arabic | Testimony by CSP in English
Schema & FHI360 pioneer 1st of its kind Corporate Responsibility Bridging Program between NGOs & the SMEs in Jordan
Amman, Jordan, 17 January 2013
For the first time in Jordan, 11 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have competed for strategic partnerships with 14 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) during a “bridging” event on January 16th; resulting partnerships will enable the implementation of projects that benefit local communities in Amman and Zarqa.
Crowning a three-phase program that was launched in September 2012, the bridging event on January 16th 2013 aimed at marrying the successful NGOs with the participating SMEs through sustainable and strategic partnerships towards community development. The event consisted of two unique and creative activities: Speed Dating whereby NGOs and SMEs had three minutes one-on-one to introduce themselves to each other, and an Auction whereby NGOs pitched their project ideas to attract interested SME partners.
The bridging program is designed and implemented by Schema (Sustainability Advisory Firm) with support from the Jordan Civil Society Program (CSP), a USAID/Jordan funded project.
More than 40 NGOs participated in this unique initiative which aims to build partnerships between civil society and the private sector at the local community level. Through multiple learning and capacity building opportunities developed by Schema and CSP, NGOs gained a better understanding of the concepts of corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainable development, and strategic partnerships, as well as how to best communicate with the private sector in order to establish a partnership for a specific cause. Schema also worked with SMEs to set a common ground of understanding and communication between civil society and the private sector and emphasize the importance of partnering and working closely with NGOs as part of the SMEs’ Corporate Social Responsibility activities.
Maali Qasem Khader, CEO and Founder of Schema, explained: “the bridging program is a pilot project of an innovative model for strategic partnerships towards sustainable societal development. In its three phases, the program has proven a tangible success in raising awareness and building capacity in the areas of corporate social responsibility and sustainability that aims at achieving clear impact on the society and changing the common concept of mere donations to the concept of joint collaborations and synergies between different sectors, and the creation of shared values for all participating parties“.
In September 2012, the project started with an open competition that drew the attention of more than 40 NGOs who participated in an introductory workshop on CSR; in a later stage, NGOs participated in evaluation and scoring sessions where they presented their revised project ideas to a review panel which then selected the final short-list to participate in the final bridging event on 16 January 2013. Parallel to this, SMEs were invited to take part in this program, and eventually 14 SMEs were engaged in similar workshops in preparation for the bridging event to allocate potential NGOs to partner with.
Ever since the bridging event, Schema has been working with the partnering NGOs and SMEs during the implementation of the winning projects and has committed to taking this pilot project forward on their own through a monitoring and evaluation year as part of Schema’s societal contribution and commitment towards raising with the awareness and impact of sustainable development in Jordan.
Rama Ishaq, CSP’s Capacity Building Team Leader, commented: “We believe that this approach targeting SMEs to work at the local community level will create models for others. We commend SCHEMA’s commitment to taking forward this pilot project beyond CSP’s support to create other private sector-NGO partnerships which are based on the objective of creating shared value and mutual goals that better serve community priorities.”
Prior to launching this bridging program, CSP conducted a study based on three focus groups: (1) SMEs that succeeded in partnering with an NGO on a project; (2) SMEs that did not succeed in partnering with NGOs; and (3) NGOs that both succeeded and did not succeed in partnering with the private sector. The results revealed a lack of understanding of both NGOs and SMEs about CSR, as well as gaps in how NGOs define and communicate potential projects to the private sector. Although different efforts have been launched to link the private sector with the CSOs, only a few well-established companies have succeeded in mastering the concept of CSR with the majority of their support repeatedly targeting a narrow pool of national-level CSOs. Hence, the idea of the bridging program, designed and implemented by Shcema, comes as a response to the study results to overcome the identified gap between those two vital sectors.
Already NGO and SME representatives have seen the benefits of this approach. As one NGO representative recently explained, this project “elaborately presented the concept of sustainable social development, clarified how the private sector thinks, and took us away from the traditional approach of fund raising and seeking mere financing, as opposed to seeking mutually-benefiting partnerships with the private sector.”
The Jordan Civil Society Program (CSP) aims at cultivating a strong and vibrant civil society through a supportive enabling environment and an engaged citizenry. With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/Jordan), CSP was launched in November 2008 with a consultative and research phase, conducting focus groups with Jordanian citizens, civil society organizations, as well as key decision-makers to identify the priorities, challenges, and perceptions facing the sector. This research contributed to defining the specific program activities that have begun and will continue through August 2013.
Schema is an established advisory firm focused on Sustainability, providing value to clients through tailored solutions in Corporate Governance (CG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) across the MENA region. It is the only Sustainability advisory practice in the region that specializes purely in CG and CSR, maintaining a focus on and evolving with the rapid development in these fields.