While it may seem noble to forge your own path, in the business world, statistics show that two heads are indeed better than one. Strategic partnerships are a catalyst for growth, and the tech world is no different: 95% of Microsoft’s commercial revenue comes through its partner ecosystem, for example, while a report in the Harvard Business Review shows that 94% of tech executives view innovation partnerships as necessary to their strategy.
Natasha Archary, Vice President: Strategic Partnerships at Banking as a Service (BaaS) and embedded finance enabler, Ukheshe, says this is certainly the case for the company. “For us, partnerships are a core vertical in attaining our long-term goals. It’s key to our growth journey, so we’re constantly looking to explore possible synergies.”
Successful partnerships, she says, can have a mutually beneficial impact that would not be easy to achieve alone. “Depending on the type of partnership and the terms, there can be a slew of benefits. It can allow both partners to explore new and existing markets and expand in them, tapping into each other’s knowledge and distribution channels along the way. It can open the door, in both directions, to resources such as technology, finance, additional networks and expertise. And it can improve brand awareness and customer trust for both partners. Successful partnerships allow both parties to leverage the other’s knowledge and resources to bolster growth and ultimately meet the customers’ needs and expectations. At Ukheshe, our partnerships have certainly impacted our growth journey in these three major ways.”
Of course, none of these benefits are guaranteed by simply entering into a partnership, and Archary cautions that decision-makers should do their homework before entering into negotiations or projects. “Startups, especially, tend to want to grab every opportunity that comes their way, but it’s important to make sure a partnership will be mutually beneficial and add value to the customer.
Mutual is a keyword to consider, she adds: “At Ukheshe, we also firmly believe that a partnership should be mutually beneficial, otherwise it’s not sustainable in the long term. Make sure both parties bring enough to the table.” She says it’s important to also consider long-term goals. “Short-term partnerships may look attractive, but sustainable partnerships are viewed as long-term and are built on trust, good standing, and clear results.
Benefits don’t necessarily have to be economic though – it could also be in the form of technology, expertise, or networking. Each potential partner will come with its own strengths and as long as the partnership is collaborative and complementary to the overall strategy, you will achieve your desired outcome. Partners should have a compatible strategic vision, a golden thread that ties their long-term visions together.”
For Ukheshe, this has meant a particular focus on creating a financially inclusive ecosystem. “We’re firm believers in the importance of broadening financial inclusivity and keeping this in mind has allowed us to choose the right partners who are working towards the same vision,” says Archary. “Focusing on that single key point, a mutual vision, means that not only both partners benefit from our collaborations, but also the industry at large. In the fintech space we operate in, it means customers and users, who are spoilt for choice but don’t necessarily know who to trust, benefit from better quality products and a trustworthy stamp of approval from both partners. Regulatory bodies are assured of compliant entities with the potential to contribute to the research and development of the fintech space at large. And investors and shareholders can rest assured knowing there is a stronger likelihood of strategic goals being met, as well as the potential for market expansion.”
Such successful partnerships, she says, will have a long-term ripple effect in any organisation, opening doors to additional partnerships and growth. “Make sure you can see the end vision, a long-term outcome, from the onset. Then set a clear framework and terms of engagement to understand everyone’s roles and responsibilities. Start with the end in mind to ensure that each partner will come out better than they went in.”