The Power Of Cross Sector Partnerships

Author: Meg Kauthen, Sustainability Manager

Cross-sector partnerships enable businesses, government, philanthropy/private capital, academia/health/research, and Non-Government Organisations (NGO), to work together to address entrenched issues such as poverty, health, and climate change. By combining funding, assets, and expertise, partnerships are capable of generating greater impact than going it alone. In today’s world, especially with the impact of COVID-19, where each sector faces constraints in resources – capital and human – cross-sector partnerships can achieve mutually beneficial, powerful outcomes.

Unfortunately achieving cross-sector partnerships in international development can be difficult with each sector often having different ideologies, cultures, goals, and partnering practices. To address these barriers, Business for Development joined an Executive Roundtable hosted by ACFID and Melbourne Business School on the Cross Sector Development Partnership Initiative (XSPI) – pronounced X-SPY. For this blog we asked XSPI Chair, Dr. Dan Evans, and Project Director, Laiza Garcia, to speak on the initiative.

Dan advises XSPI’s vision is to position Australia by 2030 as “the demonstrated leader of transformational cross-sector development partnerships within Asia Pacific, resulting in strongly increased development impact”.

Typically, cross-sector development partnerships focus on just three sectors – NGO, business and government – but XSPI has added philanthropy/private capital and academia/health/medical research. Dan comments “all five have important contributions to make around development, and they’re already doing things in development but they’re not often consistently working together or fully effective.” He continues that “it’s not a matter of all five sectors always working together, it’s a question of mixing and matching to craft better approaches and outcomes for the particular development issue being addressed.”

The key, Dan highlights, is “there has to be a value proposition for each member of the partnership. Importantly, the local community has to be both the principal beneficiary and strongly involved in all aspects of the project. The guiding project philosophy needs to be “nothing about us, without us”. ” Laiza adds “we want to shake-up the mindset of Australian business. We have identified this very unique opportunity for business in Australia to identify social risks and closely engage with the development sector. It will enable business to leverage the work of other sectors, open new commercial opportunities by tackling global and business issues.”

Laiza emphasizes “global issues are too big for just one sector to mitigate alone. In order to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), governments and other stakeholders will be required to spend $400 billion per year until 2030. Such goals simply will not be achieved without meaningful action by cross-sector partnerships”.

XSPI, Laiza notes, will be “building a network of people from different sectors motivated by the challenge of crafting new development solutions and adding value to their own organisations by providing skills and services.” Over the next 18 months, XSPI will be working to create widespread recognition of cross-sector partnership logic, value, and potentially develop partnerships creating impact across the Asia Pacific region.

Business for Development is hosting XSPI’s formative stage for the 18 months to December 2021. An Advisory Council comprising senior executives from the five key stakeholder sectors is currently being established. The current XSPI vision is not to become an NGO or NFP, rather, create the possibility of evolving from an initiative into an alliance of key cross sector stakeholders for impact and outcomes.

Please contact Laiza at for more information.

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