PPPLab in action: First PPPCafé

The first PPPCafé took place on the 25th of February at the New World Campus in The Hague. The main issue that this PPPCafé put on the table was if PPPs are really business unusual, meaning business that is innovative, sustainable and has social impact and reaching the BoP as one of the main goals. This is a valid concern especially when 50% of the funding for initiating and implementing a PPP is subsidised by the (Dutch) government under the aid and trade policy agenda. The people who joined the discussions at the PPPCafé were independent consultants, consultancy firms, universities, RVO & DGIS and NGOs. The private sector in food and water was missing, something that was also discussed around the table.

Sjef Ernes from Aqua for All opened the café by sharing some key research outcomes around business cases in the PPPs (FDOV, FDW). He mentioned that there are three types of PPPs, in which the business case fits in a specific way, 1) the PPP itself is a business case, 2) there are several smaller business cases within the PPP project and 3) the PPP has a business case but it is not directly linked to the main activities of the PPP project. He was questioning in which of the three the business case would have the best opportunity to scale up.

In a world café setting the participants discussed questions related to the main question: PPPs: business as (un)usual? The atmosphere was open and critical, and experiences and observation from various partnerships were shared and more questions were raised. A question which was raised several times was “who is responsible for the risks in the PPPs?” with an emphasis on who really needs to pay if the project/business fails? It was also mentioned that “the ideal business case is one were the beneficiaries are, or become the paying customers” as an answer to why a business case needs to be embedded in the PPP to be relevant and effective.

Upcoming PPPCafé
The PPPCafés will be organised four times a year around different topics. PPPLab’s role is to facilitate the discussion and exchange. The next organised meet up will be in the spring time around the topic of PPPs and their potential for scaling and system change.

If you have suggestions for a theme, want to present a case or have an interesting format for discussion, or any other idea which is interesting for the PPPCafé please contact us at: info@ppplab.org or through twitter.