Rachael Boon, writing in the The Straits Times, recently talked with our founder Peggy Dulany about how she has harnessed important connections to further international development projects:
The organisation took years to get to where it is today, and to figure out the best way to do things, because giving back is not just about money. “Now that we’re 30 years old, I feel we have ‘proof of concept’ with what kind of partnerships can work - (and) only in the past five years. Each of the initiatives, such as deep partnerships, can take five to seven years to work.” And sometimes things do not go as planned.
Ms Dulany recalls how Synergos was helping Unilever and Unicef to determine how to work effectively with non-governmental organisations. The goal was to reduce the malnutrition rate in India’s Maharashtra state, one of the highest rates globally.
The institute found that the “biggest impediment was the lack of trust”, and other factors included corruption. It then sent key people on a retreat to work things out.
They hit on an idea, and a chef from Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces was tasked with reworking the type of meals that poor children in the state ate every day, creating just three easy-to-prepare menus.
“We never got beyond the pilot because the corporates said it was enough, and we were in only three districts. We were upset but, two years later, Unicef did a study of nutrition efforts all over the world, and found the most positive results in this state,” notes Ms Dulany, adding that the rate of stunting – a severe effect of malnutrition – fell from 39 per cent to 23 per cent there. “We realised that it wasn’t just the pilots – it was the trust built up in a previously disjointed system – and we’re going to do a case study on that as well.”