CATALYST Consortium aims to support bridging and linking activities among the private, public, and NGO sectors to meet increasing demand for and sustain FP/RH services and programs. CATALYST’s strategy in working with both the public and private sectors centers around a new concept entitled “Commercial Partnerships”. Commercial partnerships focus largely on engaging the commercial sector, but active participation of the public sector, NGOs and other civil society organizations is essential for complementing commercial sector investments. Commercial partnerships are joint ventures between the different actors supporting FP/RH to generate social and economic benefits that are significant to public, private and NGO sectors. Commercial partnerships also allow CATALYST to leverage limited USAID funds with the commercial sector, thus expanding investments for FP/RH.
Commercial partnerships differ from other partnerships in that risks and benefits for each partner are acknowledged upfront and incentives are instituted as a basis for long-term, sustainable partnership relationship. The ultimate goal of commercial partnerships in the area of FP/RH is to increase access to quality products and services. It is therefore important to design partnerships that balance corporate benefits, including corporate responsibilities to their shareholders and other stakeholders, with social needs of communities. A catalyst is often needed to bridge these seemingly opposing objectives and to involve the institutions that represent them in the partnership process.
The CATALYST Project facilitates commercial partnerships between the three principal sectors in the health arena: 1) Public sector, 2) Non-government sector, and 3) Private commercial sector. There are a myriad of organizations and institutions within each of these sector that have a stake in women and children’s health. Ministries of Health, Social Welfare, and Social Security institutions are some of the key actors in the public sector. The NGO sector includes a diverse range of organizations representing the needs and interests of women, children and communities that include health providers, women’s groups, advocacy groups, umbrella organizations, cooperatives, etc. The private sector is an equally diverse group, ranging from transnational companies in the pharmaceutical, communications and garment industries to chambers of commerce to membership associations of doctors and nurse/midwives.
CATALYST has a three-pronged strategy for commercial partnerships. First, based on a strategic plan, CATALYST identifies and engages actors from the different sectors and industries with whom it can collaboratively form the most productive partnerships. Second, through these partnerships, CATALYST enables or expands consumer access to FP/RH products, providers and services. CATALYST is pursuing commercial partnerships through a variety of program strategies. They include:
Third, CATALYST helps sustain the availability of affordable quality FP/RH products and services to consumers by ensuring that partnership terms and conditions are carried out and that the agreed upon activities are implemented according to international best practices. South-to-South partnerships have, and will continue play a critical role in the sustainability of the commercial sector partnerships. Moreover, CATALYST will monitor and evaluate these different commercial partnerships to evaluate their experience and success and assess the feasibility of replicating or scaling up these partnerships.
Forming partnerships is challenging and is difficult to program because it is highly opportunistic, country-specific and time-sensitive, as the commercial sector acts based on market realities. In 2003 2004, CATALYST has identified specific opportunities in three areas that will contribute to achieving successful commercial partnerships:
1) Pharmaceutical Sector Partnerships
2) Corporate Social Responsibility
3) Employer-based programs
1. Pharmaceutical Sector Partnerships
The Catalyst Project has forged innovative public/private partnerships between Ministries of Health, Pharmaceutical Companies and NGOs to address a variety of issues related to FP/RH products. To date, CATALYST has been able to facilitate two Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) that increase access, availability and affordability of FP/RH products for middle- and low-income people.
2. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
The objective of CATALYST CSR activities is to engage international and local corporations in providing social investment for FP/RH. CATALYST will build on the momentum gained from the dissemination of the CSR toolkit and discussions with corporations and USAID/Missions to implement CSR activities focusing on FP/RH activities to identify, develop and operationalize CSR partnerships. CATALYST will:
3. Employer-based FP/RH Services
CATALYST will identify and enter into partnerships with a select number of industries that employ a majority of female or young work force as a strategy to expand access to FP/RH information, counseling and services at the work place. CATALYST’s approach will be to map out and identify, by region and country, individual or communities of industries with a large work force (at least 2,000 employees). CATALYST will also identify local service providers, either public, private or NGO, and broker a business relationship between the companies and these service providers who can serve the health needs of the workers. CATALYST’s first opportunity will be a partnership between APROFAM/Guatemala and Chiquita Banana to provide FP services to Chiquita’s staff. South-to-South partner PROFAMILIA will continue to play a technical role, assisting APROFAM in the design and implementation of FP/RH services.