Results from Strengthening Regional Partners
USAID tasked GMS to expand the pool of high-quality regional technical-support providers for grantees of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (principal recipients (PRs), subrecipients (SRs), and country coordinating mechanisms (CCMs)). This is part of GMS’s objective 2. In response, GMS’s capacity-building regional partner (RP) strengthening initiative aimed to demonstrate the potential of organizations in developing countries to deliver such support, meeting the same quality standards as those GMS teams do.
Twelve regional organizations were selected as GMS’s RP organizations:
- ADVANTECH, based in Kenya
- ALMACO, based in Kenya
- CURATIO, based in Georgia
- EFCA, based in Kazakhstan
- GCC, based in Côte d’Ivoire
- IRESCO, based in Cameroon
- KHULISA, based in South Africa
- OASYS, based in Senegal
- PLENITUD, based in Dominican Republic
- Q Partnership, based in Zimbabwe
- TAI, based in Bangladesh
- UPWARD BOUND, based in Kenya
GMS carried out RP strengthening using a model that evolved over time following principles of adaptive management: USAID adopted these principles to respond to new and changing circumstances to get the best results. Initially, GMS used a mentorship model in which GMS’s 6 largest most experienced institutional partners (called “international partners”) were mentors to the first group of 6 RPs. This model produced highly variable results in fit and efficacy, spurring GMS to conduct a comprehensive review of the approach and revise the approach accordingly.
Following mixed success with the mentorship model, GMS developed a marketplace model in which RPs selected service providers among the international partners. International partners proposed their services to RPs in a marketplace event GMS organized. To get ready for the marketplace event, RPs created shopping lists of their individual organizational development needs that they then matched to the international partners’ offers. This model corrected the limitations of the mentorship model and was more flexible.
In 2015, GMS witnessed the emergence of the coached collaboration model in which most RPs received business coaching either individually or in groups. Business coaching emerged as a critical service, and RPs reached out to the available (though relatively limited) pool of providers, showing a decided preference for those who had “hands-on” experience with the challenges RPs had faced and continued to face. At this stage, GMS supported the RPs in forming “innovation pods”–each being a small working group dedicated to developing a response or a solution to a Global Fund–related issue.
The innovation pods also benefited from collective business coaching as they developed their solutions and continued to benefit from coaching as they moved through prototyping, piloting and rollout phases of their developments.
In preparation for its final year, GMS has now considerably scaled down its support for RPs. Efforts to strengthen individual RPs shrank significantly while coaching innovation pods gained prominence. The pods continued working to bring their innovations to market. In September 2016, in the final RP Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, 10 of the 12 RPs decided to formally constitute a regional partner network that they call Network of Technical Assistance Providers (NTAP). The group is still finalizing its strategy, business model and marketing, supported by GMS (financially and using virtual coaching).
NTAP will present itself as exhibitors at the AIDF (Africa International Development Forum) Summit to be held in Nairobi at end- February 2017, with the hope of generating new business leads. The network steering committee representatives will meet with donors and potential beneficiaries across a broad range of sectors and activities.
Success stories and news
Peer-to-Peer Exchange: Convinced that regional partners (RPs) could boast individual and collective skills and knowledge and help solve one another’s problems, GMS fostered the idea of formalizing a “peer-to-peer exchange” or “P2PX.” Taking a cue from the emergent “sharing economy” that has brought successes such as Airbnb and Uber, Grant Management Solutions (GMS) hopes that RPs will offer technical skills to address problems and also discover unexpected synergies and potential for revenue-generating collaboration. Launched in December 2015, the P2PX includes exchanges among 9 RPs responding to various business and technology challenges. All participating RPs have reported great satisfaction from the P2PX and ongoing collaboration since then.
“I think it was useful from both sides. It certainly wasn’t a one-way training exercise. It was quite an interactive process … a sort of review as well for us.” -Caroline Trigg, Q Partnership