Keys to Making Public-Private Partnerships Work

By Nolan Miles
P3 Kentucky Staff Writer

The use of a public-private partnerships is still relatively young in Kentucky, and it’s one some might consider an ideal solution to address infrastructure needs. However, public-private partnerships are the right solution only when they are executed correctly, notes Forbes contributing writer Willy Foote.

In a recent article, Footes outlines the building blocks to launching a successful P3, steps he discovered after his organization, Root Capital, started the Coffee Farmer Resiliense Initiative (CFRI) in 2013. The CFRI was created to aid the coffee industry in South America, providing local farmers with long-term loans for their businesses.

A partnership was formed between CFRI and investors, including the Inter-American Development Bank, Ford Foundation, and Starbucks. Crucially, it included risk-sharing guarantees and capital from USAID and Keurig Green Mountain (Keurig). Footes notes that a successful P3 starts by identifying the problem and finding “partners who truly have skin in the game.”

“Having this skin in the game — also known as shared value — is critical to the success of any public-private partnership,” he wrote. “It allows collective impact to be integrated into the core of a company’s business. And it ensures that any internal skepticism about the merit of development investments is quickly surmounted.”

It’s important to find partners that not only complement each other’s strengths and weakness but also realize the scope of the challenge and are adaptable to changing situations. Footes describes P3s as innovations that requires adaptability, not rigid structures.

“I’ve found that public-private partnerships are a leap of faith,” Footes wrote. “Partners have to trust and rely on each other, knowing that their ultimate success will be bigger as a result.”

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