Supporting our Partners in 2020
One of the key characteristics of Emerging World’s work is how we involve and support organisations and small businesses that drive social change through the experiences we provide. We refer to these organisations as partners and they are an important stakeholder for us, as well as a source of inspiration.
Travel restrictions prevented many of the corporate clients we work with providing their usual support to partners, and so throughout 2020 we needed to think creatively about how we could continue to support our partners in a meaningful and sustainable way.
Our first step was to understand the partners’ current situation on the ground, their immediate and longer term needs and possible ways we could support them virtually. We did this by designing a survey that was sent out in April 2020, just when the effects of the pandemic were starting to be felt. The feedback we received helped shape our thinking on the best ways to support partners. By the end of the year, we had managed to deliver pro bono Action Learning coaching to a number of our partners and created and delivered a virtual (INmersive) Leadership Development programme that would help them to navigate turbulent times. We are excited to share more on this here:
To get a sense of the context that our partner organisations found themselves in as a result of Covid-19, we developed a survey to understand how their work was being impacted, their needs at the time and their readiness to receive virtual support. 32 partner organisations in Africa, Asia, US, and UK responded.
The results of the survey indicated that, as expected, Covid-19 had significantly impacted operations. Teams needed to quickly adapt to virtual/phone working, programmes and events had been either cancelled or postponed and changes were starting to be felt in their funding efforts and revenue generation. Immediate needs were unsurprisingly around funding but in the subsequent 3-12-month period, partners anticipated that the most urgent needs would be centred on mentoring or coaching key staff on how to navigate change, problem solving and financing.
This information helped us to shape that support we could provide and led us to developing two virtual programmes to meet these needs: Some Pro-Bono Action Learning in October for a segment of our partners based in Kenya and a special Partner INmersion Programme that concluded in November.
Partner INmersion opportunity
October 2020 saw the launch of a special leadership development programme for Emerging World’s partner organisations. This flagship programme was designed to support individuals and their organisations to navigate ongoing volatility and uncertainty, and successfully lead the transition to what’s next. The programme utilised our new INmersive approach which adopts virtual ways of working and focused on learning through the process of tackling real problems and challenges.
Through this highly interactive experience, participants had an opportunity to reflect deeply on daily experience using our Principles of Immersive Learning and compare their reflections with a diverse group of dynamic leaders from other organisations driving social and systemic change. They were also able to enhance their ability to understand difference so that they could develop deeper self-awareness, engage better with diverse colleagues and stakeholders who may be under stress, and apply the learning to personal leadership and business challenges that they were facing at the time.
Participants found that the programme provided a rich learning experience that was helpful in increasing their ability to manage complexity and uncertainty.
Impact: Programme Experience
Impact: Future Confidence
Pro-bono Action Learning coaching
The World Institute of Action Learning (WIAL) provides the body of knowledge on Action Learning and certifies coaches to support Action Learning groups. It is in the spirit of WIAL’s Give Back Challenge that Emerging World supported 16 participants from 3 partner organisations with Pro-bono Action Learning, support investing over 30 hours of coaching time in October 2020.
As an organisation, we were thrilled to able to coach partners directly in the absence of corporate client engagement. This provided our partners with an opportunity to develop leadership skills further as a well as develop some actions towards solving an urgent and complex challenge they were facing as a business or organisation. Participants had this to say about their experience:
We are really happy that we could continue to support partners throughout what was a difficult year for all of us. And we’re also grateful for their continuous engagement with us, the amazing and important work they do, and for the inspiration and energy they brings us.
What’s more, we feel confident that our experiences during 2020 have meant that we have now developed new ways to engage that will be relevant and impactful long after the pandemic has passed.
Interested to know more?
If you would like to hear more about our partner organisations and how we support their efforts, please contact: Doreen