It’s not just a symbolic or spiritual union. It’s backed up by contracts, with marriage partners legally bound to each other for all eternity. Or, truthfully speaking, until one of the two parties seeks litigation to effectively end the romantic soiree. But while the fire burns, a single dwelling is usually shared by the couple, as well as various assets and finances too.
Business partnerships are much like this.
Forbes Magazine put it best when it revealed the similarities between the two: both are big and life-changing, requiring mutual trust and respect. They both involve money, and both require a conscious choice on a daily basis to continue working towards a common goal with someone other than yourself.
But forget the yearnings for success of just a pair of entrepreneurs who take the audacious leap of attempting to run a successful business together; there is much more power to be gained from a public-private partnership.
According to an article in Harvard Business Review earlier this year, there is definitely a renewed interest in public-private partnership projects the world over, with business supplementing public investment in return for reaping rewards.
Some reports in the media suggest that Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are often crucial in the facilitation of rapid infrastructure delivery at a reasonable cost and with minimum risk to the government. The reports further claim that South Africa needs to understand these types of partnerships as a way of providing effective and efficient services across various spheres of government.
A 2016/17 general report by the Auditor-General on local government audit outcomes lists various governance challenges relating to municipalities. Several shortcomings were identified in the areas of development and infrastructure.
These included the gross underspending of grants, delays in project completion, poor quality workmanship and inadequate monitoring of contracts. Which begs the question – how would these results look if public-private partnerships had been explored.
Living examples of the success of public-private partnerships include Sasria, Sasol and the CSIR.
Born in 1979 following the violent clashes of the 1976 uprisings in South Africa, Sasria is a response to the realisation that there is no insurance to cover assets against strikes and riots within the private sector. Government took a decision to fund and manage its own short-term risk insurance company.
Sasria provides insurance against damage or loss to assets caused by civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots or terrorism. The company covers individuals, businesses as well as government entities.
Just how does this public-private partnership work?
Well, while the day-to-day administration and collection of premiums is undertaken by insurance agents and brokers, claims and settlements are seen to by Sasria itself, which rarely ever comes into contact with clients directly.
Another example is a recent collaboration between energy giant Sasol and the Mpumalanga government.
The signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two parties seeks to undertake a variety of programmes with the end aim of enhancing human capital, the urgent upgrade of the basic, social and economic infrastructure of the area plus the development and promotion of small businesses and cooperatives. The aim of the latter initiative is to stimulate economic development to ensure economic growth and job creation.
If it succeeds, a great improvement in poverty and food insecurity will be noted for South Africans in that province.
For the thousands of families in other areas of the country battling with social and economic issues which see them facing a daily struggle of gross food insecurity, the public-private partnership between the Tiger Brands Foundation and Department of Basic Education has taken huge strides to correct this anomaly.
Armed with the knowledge that within education lies the key to save young people from the numerous social ills their communities are battling and to provide them with a better future, the Tiger Brands Foundation started the in-school breakfast programme in non-fee paying schools across the country in 2011. The programme was initially introduced via a pilot programme at a single school in 2010 but soon enjoyed massive success.
To date, over 71 million meals have been served since its inception, to approximately 70,000 meals served per school day to beneficiaries who include educators, learners and food handlers from 94 schools. This hot breakfast, served to the learners at 7.15 am in the classrooms from the nutritionally sound range of Tiger Brands breakfast products, is completed by a lunch provided by the Department of Basic Education through the National Schools Nutrition Programme.
In addition to this meal, the Tiger Brands Foundation has installed fully equipped kitchens at many of the schools to help prepare both meals.
Though many of these learners may continue to wake up to the depressing reality of empty cupboards at home, they need no longer face the indignity of grumbling stomachs in the classroom. These learners now enjoy a daily meal, plus a notable improvement in their academic performance.
We all know that two heads are better than one, but, as an Ethiopian proverb goes:
“When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.”
It is that intricate spider web between public and private sectors which, if applied strategically, can battle lack of service delivery, lack of infrastructure, joblessness and poverty for good.