Rethinking partnerships for greater shared value

Daniel Lee, executive director for the Levi Strauss Foundation, shares lessons learned in building partnerships with nongovernmental organizations.

Nongovernmental organizations are changing the way they are working. They now place importance in building stronger partnerships to create shared value. But “against backgrounds that are often divisive,” how do partnerships persist?

In the case of the Levi Strauss Foundation, there needed to be a “fundamental rethink” in the way it built its programs and ensure their sustainability, Executive Director Daniel Lee shares in a video interview.

It might not have been enough to invest 15 years and $10 million in worker empowerment programs that touched on health, financial security, sustainable living environments and rights.

“How much of these are actually sustained by suppliers after funding has left?” he asked.

Bringing together the brand, a local NGO and a critical local supplier has created space for mutual growth, Lee said, adding that these kinds of partnerships are often played out against backgrounds that are often divisive.

“What we’ve learned is that shared value means building connective tissues between unlikely allies,” he said.

Devex, in partnership with the Shared Value Initiative, FSG and Global Impact, is examining how the world’s largest international nongovernmental organizations are transitioning their partnership strategies from traditional corporate partnerships to more scalable initiatives. We’ll look at how these initiatives accelerate both social impact and a business return on investment, while highlighting engagement in shared value during this special series “The Future of International NGOs.” Join the conversation using #FutureINGO.

About the author

  • Jacques Jimeno

    Jacques is a former copy editor at Devex’s news production team. Previously, he worked with the Philippine Department of Tourism and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

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