So what is a partnership? I’m sure we all know. By definition a partnership is when two or more parties collaborate or join together for mutual benefit. Partnerships in business are much the same as any other partnership. They provide valuable support, help build a network and allow parties work together to achieve or maintain a common beneficial aim.
At Wessex Social Ventures (WSV) we understand the importance of building strong relationships and have used this to surround our business model. We build relationships with NGOs, corporates and individuals in communities enabling us to travel further and implement otherwise near impossible radical interventions.
“We have found our partnerships have spread knowledge and expertise, and have helped build a strong network of communities”
Building strong relationships can take years; especially in our case, as our business model relies on building rooted relationships within communities. Our model targets communities living on less than $3 per day; a notoriously difficult bracket in which to implement ‘trade’ solutions. Knowledge of local culture is even more paramount to success which is why we have created the WSV Social Franchise Model. We package our micro-enterprise models into a business in a box, supplying NGOs with the training, tools, and support they need to replicate the models proven impact. This allows us to tap into a pre-existing network of NGOs and communities forming an enabling ecosystem.
“Business is a complex, fragile network of interconnected relationships and systems. People rely on these relationships to influence large groups of people.”
The previous Millennium Development Goals sanitation target underperformed by a staggering 700 million people; a significant loss for the UN and the rest of the world. Was this an impossible target to reach? How do you make the impossible, possible? This miss inspired us to take action and with help from our partners we were able to implement change and access communities immediately. The Roots enterprise was established to provide clean, safe toilet facilities to communities suffering from diseases such as cholera. The toilets serve a creative function, converting human waste into 100% natural fertilizer. Thefertilizer is then sold to local farmers at a fraction of the price of alternatives and the revenue used to construct more toilets. Roots is an example of the kind of sanitation initiative needed in the developing world.
This is a prime example of where an ecosystem of organisations is needed. These enterprises take time to build and due to low income levels, they are also unable to fund the employment of our team in the UK. Our social franchise model resolves this, as NGOs purchase the model and support from WSV, allowing Roots to scale efficiently. The local ownership of the micro-enterprises drastically reduces the cost of the products for the communities because the wage the entrepreneurs require and the business costs reflect the economic state of the community. Thus making the enterprise affordable, accessible and sustainable
With help from our partners we were able to launch The Million, Million, Million Plan:
- 1 million women and girls with a sustainable supply of affordable sanitary towels
- 1 million school children with safe, clean toilets
- 1 million people studying and working under clean, affordable lighting
The power of connection is invaluable and our partners have already assisted hugely in the development of WSV. With further growth and cross sector partnerships, our Million, Million, Million plan is more than possible.
Enactus Southampton and the University of Southampton have hugely supported WSV. Partnering with Enactus has resulted in the creation of life changing business models, helped WSV make contacts and provided us with valuable resources and innovative student minds; all helping propel WSV in the right direction.
We owe gratitude to World Merit who have been mentoring us throughout our journey. They made it possible for us to attend the very successful Nexus Youth Summit in New York and are an inspiration to taking the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Our Journey with them also takes us to Merit360 and the full UN General Assembly.
Everybody travels further with a loyal partner, and WSV have definitely seen this in the past few years. We believe that collaboration has the power to make the impossible, possible.