Collaboration in Serbia: Belgrade’s story of a local partnership in action
Now more than ever is a time when we need strong collaborative action. Where organisations, with diverse skills, are able to come together and look at what it is that we can do together, that cannot be done alone. WWF & Impact Hub’s global partnership, would not be what it is, without the strong examples of the local partnerships, working to bring conservation and innovation together, for the purpose of achieving positive impact that travels across both communities. Serbia’s local partnership is a clear example of two organisations leveraging each other’s work through the practical combination of science and business.
“In getting started, it is important to first figure out and map the low hanging fruits. What are the easy wins you can achieve as organisations in early months and years of collaboration, and then build upon that.”
Pavle, from Impact Hub Belgrade, shares the story of the different collaboration phases with local partner WWF Serbia. From a simple commercial transaction, to a one and a half year integrated project, the Serbian local partnership shows how by first working with the ‘low hanging fruits’ it can quickly turn into a solid collaboration where both parties are able ‘to do what they do best’, but together and with more impact.
The first engagement we did with WWF Serbia was around four years ago when they rented the space for half a day hosting an event on earth hour. Then the following year, we did it again. However, it wasn’t until the last year and a half, where we started to build the partnership more intentionally. We kicked it off with joining the effort to organise two virtual conferences for Central and Eastern Europe together with WWF and other partners in the region. We then worked together on a small project where we got to know WWF a bit better and where we were able to show our collective strengths. We worked along the small town of Bački Monoštor who requested help from the universities, in how to boost their business potential. We on the Impact Hub side, helped the students with tools, challenge contexts and action brainstorming, which they then pitched to the WWF guys. This process really kicked off the partnership in a local sense.
Then last September, Duska from WWF pinged us with a project, from a Swedish development agency, who had an open call, which we then applied for together. Three months later, we got an approval, so kicked off the project, which will last for a year and a half. With this, we are basically doing what we at Impact Hub do best, running acceleration programmes for five climate change businesses throughout the year. We are really lucky that we have Duska, as she has the mindset that (WWF) as scientists, want to preserve nature, want to build the future in a sustainable way, but don’t know the business side of things. Impact Hub knows business. She is clear that in this way, we are a clear match and have the opportunity to create some good, sustainable examples that impact both the environment and the economy.
This was our first bigger partnership activity, but it also opened space to discuss different modalities for collaboration. It was easy, once we identified what we were both good at, there was a clear match. In that sense, we were, and still are not overstretching our resources. Neither of the two local entities, of the two organisations, are actually doing something that they are not doing already, as a core business, and I think that is the strength of the existing model that we have. We see the potential, as well as the main project, we are prototyping small points of contacts, workshops, checklists, check points, shared resources, where we can jointly educate both our communities in that field. I would say generally, and I think this goes for both organisations, we are more competitive, in the sense of donors and sponsors when we are going collectively. I think each organisation, with our global brands, can do certain things to a certain level, but together, by bringing two very different communities, points of views and impact potential, we are a much more interesting package deal.
The impact that I feel can be measured at this point would be the intertwining between the two communities.
For me, I would definitely say WWF and Impact Hub are very natural partners for achieving societal and environmental sustainability. I think, in getting started, it is important to first figure out and map the low hanging fruits. What are the easy wins you can achieve as organisations in early months and years of collaboration, and then build upon that. With our partnership, we are coming to the point of actually structuring in a way that does not take too many resources, we have a clear set of activity menus from both organisations, with potential for collaboration that we can then just streamline depending on the opportunity or joint investment that we have at a certain point in time. From this place, we move into just making it happen.
“I would say generally, and I think this goes for both organisations, we are more competitive, in the sense of donors and sponsors when we are going collectively. I think each organisation, with our global brands, can do certain things to a certain level, but together, by bringing two very different communities, points of views and impact potential, we are a much more interesting package deal.”Pavle Krivokuća, Impact Hub Belgrade