Occasionally, to bring innovation and new initiatives to market companies need partnerships, that can offer scalability, productivity and innovation. In 2013, Barclays and GSK formed a new collaboration combining the skills and expertise of a bank and a healthcare company to help increase access to healthcare and improve economic livelihoods in Africa. This joint venture was one of the first between two large corporates from quite different and heavily regulated sectors, who together focused on driving shared value. One of the principles Barclays and GSK agreed on from the start was transparency. Their goal was to develop and test business models that would generate new routes to market for products and services while creating solutions to social issues in Africa.
They were successful in creating one team, bringing the best from both organisations. The ‘partnership team’ included colleagues with quite different but complementary skills and expertise. This arrangement helped foster a stimulating and cooperative environment, promoting rich shared learnings. They also worked with CARE, their not-for-profit organisation in a new way, challenging traditional charity partnerships, and set up a social enterprise called Live Well. Live Well recruits, trains and supports a network of Community Health Entrepreneurs (CHEs) to promote healthcare and sell health impact products into underserved communities.
Overall, Live Well raises awareness of health issues at a household level and provides, and introduces much-needed health products into communities which otherwise wouldn’t have access to them. It also provides entrepreneurial opportunities in communities of high unemployment in a country where around three quarters of the population earns less than USD $1.25 a day.
Now, three years since this Zambia pilot launched, many things have changed across both organisations. These changes have taught Barclays and GSK valuable lessons about what it takes for a partnership to be successful.
They have published a new report, revealing seven key lessons learned from the project, which will help shape future business models. They are: identifying the right partners to bring complementary skills and capabilities together; creating a compelling vision to make things happen; understanding the market and the environment in detail; focusing on innovation, impact and commercial sustainability; building dynamic teams that have local ownership; starting small, move fast and fail quickly; and lastly, to have resilience and patience, as it takes time to get it right.
While partnerships are not always easy to establish, this one overcame many challenges and achieved great results. Today, around 80% of Live Well CHEs are women. Equipped with business and health promotion skills, these women are building financial resilience, which empowers them to provide for themselves and their families. GSK and Barclays have left a sustainable legacy here by coming together.
Photo Credit: GSK and Barclays on 3BLMedia