Sub-principle 3.C

Make partnerships more accessible 


Why is it important?


The meaningful participation of local actors and groupings requires concerted and deliberate efforts by all partners. Different partnership models should be amenable to the capabilities of the diverse actors involved. Entry points for engagement should be kept simple, in particular for actors with limited capacity. This also applies to procedures to bid for resources or report on outcomes and results, even though minimum standards of transparency and accountability must be sustained. As a general rule, procedures related to financing, operations, monitoring and evaluation should keep in mind the capacities of different stakeholders.

Self-reflection questions
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Policy Level Project Level
  • Do your government’s or organisation’s PSE strategy and practices recognise the variety in different partners’ capacities? Have you adapted your processes to different partners – from application procedures and procurement to reporting and monitoring and evaluation? 
  • How do you address any overrepresentation of multinationals and large domestic firms in your group of clients vis-à-vis other actors who work more closely with target groups of your development co-operation? 
  • Do you offer specific guidance, training or capacity building to enable local partners to access your PSE opportunities (e.g. calls for tender and procurement opportunities)?
  • Have you analysed the capacities of potential local private sector partners to access and harness available partnering opportunities?
  • Do you offer capacity support different, especially smaller stakeholders, including those who were disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (such as MSMEs or local civil society orgnaisations), to ensure that they can meaningfully engage in inclusive dialogue processes on a level playing field? For instance, do you have the means to ensure that local stakeholders can understand and engage with relevant policy documentation/information?

Actions to consider
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Policy Level Project Level
  • Review relevant procedures and streamline or adjust them to attain greater accessibility. For instance, consider how your procurement practices may prove challenging for an MSME to compete on an equal footing with larger public and private actors. 
  • Establish clear lines of communication, while limiting bureaucratic burdens for secluded stakeholders like MSMEs and actors in the informal sector. 
  • Provide resources to support the regular engagement of all critical actors.
  • Make payment cycles more flexible and tailored to small actors like MSMEs who have great needs for liquidity.
  • Promote an enabling business environment and market creation in partner countries to attract business participation and investments in PSE programmes.
  • Budget appropriately to be able to provide capacity support for smaller stakeholders to participate in (inter)national, regional and local dialogues/projects. For instance, fostering meaningful participation may require additional training or sensitisation sessions in the format of workshops and capacity-building activities.
  • Understand the needs and ways of working of key target audiences and streamline application, monitoring and evaluation processes accordingly.

Pitfalls to avoid
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Policy Level Project Level


  • Undermine important safeguards to avoid risky PSE policies and projects when “streamlining” partnering processes.
  • Shift to virtual-only forms of participation and dialogue. As the world comes to terms with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be a tendency to shift to hybrid approaches for partnering purposes (i.e. videoconferencing, online meetings, innovative technology, etc.). While these can help ensure greater regularity of engagement, shifts towards virtual participation may undermine accessibility and systematically disenfranchise or hinder the engagement of relevant groups at risk of being left behind.


  • Allow the most influential actors to determine a project’s direction and agenda. Disparities in power and influence may harm a project’s accessibility, but can be deliberately offset by providing greater voice and engagement opportunities to disempowered actors.


Sweden’s Skanska Sustainable Procurement requires the Swedish construction firm to practice “equal and diverse” procurement that includes suppliers, small and medium-sized enterprises, and minority ethnic business from underrepresented or protected groups. Such practices and stipulations can also be directly applied to the procurement practices of PSE partnering.

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