Public Chamber discusses partnerships in the social sector
Experts have been discussing potential collaboration between business, society and Government agencies in Russia’s socio-economic development.
NGOs working with Government agencies, business interests and the public that each benefit from the third sector can be drivers of social change, according to Elena Topoleva, a member of the Public Chamber. Innovation isn’t just about creating something new in the social sector. New projects create innovatory ways of thinking that can help resolve social issues or a particular problem.
“Innovative approaches demand participation above all from the beneficiaries themselves, not only in the decision-making process in the social sector but also in problem solving. Secondly, such approaches are also applicable to partnerships with other sectors of society, e.g. between Government agencies, the business community and civil society”, said Elena Topoleva.
She stressed that more and more project initiatives are being designed to help people and further regional development, including single industry towns. She believes that regional resource and social innovation centres should focus on partnership working in the social sector as part of their everyday activities. They could also act as intermediaries in implementing collaborative projects, as well as coordinating effort, allocating resources and ensuring effective communication links.
Partnership working is the best form of collaboration and cooperation, according to Elena Feoktistova, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sustainable Development and Social Entrepreneurship at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. In her view, learning the virtues of responsibility, trust and cooperation is key for all stakeholders today. Not every cooperative and collaborative effort involves partnership-working as the road towards creating a relationship between business corporate responsibility interests and their counterparts is a long and difficult one. “Even when all the processes are in place they still need to be adapted to different requirements that may exist in other regions”, she added.
Ms Feoktistova believes it’s essential to share partnership best practice among sectors of society, together with recognition and encouragement not just from business, which often initiates a partnership arrangement, but also from heads of municipalities and regions who are actively involved in such work. “It’s important to promote and disseminate their experiences”, she said. She also stressed that social innovation centres should not only support NGOs but also other potential partners, particularly small businesses and social entrepreneurs.
In recent times, the word “partnership” has finally started to make sense, said Elena Chernyshkova, President of the charity System. “We’ve always known that partnerships are a good thing. However, a lack of trust in society as a whole makes setting up such arrangements and working in partnership structures a difficult proposition”, she said. She explained that there had been instances in 2015 of various companies pooling their resources to achieve the same goals while, at the same time, charities had been quietly discussing collaborative projects.
“Nowadays, neither business nor the State can build and develop a region on its own, while the regions themselves have to compete for human capital”, said Alexander Svinin, CEO of the Charity for Support to People in Small Towns and Rural Areas, Perspektiva. “As soon as businesses, Government agencies, the media and society in a particular region realise this, then all areas will start being in proper competition with one another”, he added.
Projects can offer profitable support to localised production businesses, thereby enabling charities to collaborate with companies based in their area, said Svinin. He explained that Perspektiva was the only administrator of the NGO Presidential Grants’ Scheme that promotes business for co-financing projects that have been successful in grant competitions.