Business leaders and leaders of civil society organizations (CSOs) generally speak different languages and often find it difficult to connect. This is despite the fact that both sides realize the other’s value— companies need the skills and knowledge that CSOs offer while civil society wants to operate with more business acumen and wants to offer its services to the private sector.
With this dynamic, PartnersGlobal is always keen to convene leaders from these two sectors. In June, with funding from the Ford Foundation, we held two training sessions for civil society in Nigeria and Senegal to learn how to diversify their sources of funding—a key component of this was having discussions between business leaders and CSO representatives on how the two sectors can benefit from each other.
In the lead up to the event, our West Africa affiliates, Partners West Africa – Senegal and Partners West Africa – Nigeria explored the opportunities and challenges of social entrepreneurship in both countries and then conducted a survey of 45 civil society organizations who could benefit from a training on diversifying funding streams. Based on these two preparatory activities we had a pretty good sense of whom to invite as well as the content that would be most relevant. In both countries the program entailed: a business panel, CSOs sharing their own experiences of sourcing fee for services, pitch simulations to various private enterprises, and then a presentation that provided concrete advice on diversifying income sources.
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