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Impact Report 2020


Welcome to our first ever annual Impact Report as a certified B Corp! We are Adam Smith International, a global advisory company that works locally to transform lives and to tackle the big challenges facing our world. Our promise to our stakeholders is to “Think. Deliver. Transform.� and whilst our company has been focused on delivering real results since its founding in 1992, being a B Corp has reinforced our commitment to making this promise a reality in all the countries we work in around the globe. We’ve never had more energy to do so!


Our Story On the following pages you will find our story on how we have achieved impact and what we commit to doing going forward – for an easier navigation of this report, we’ve opted to group the content into three big impact areas. You can see more of our work and our commitments on our website, www.adamsmithinternatonal.com

PEOPLE 18 As a global advisory company, people (whether staff, clients, partners or people we serve) are at the core of our purpose. We wanted to highlight their motivations, feedback and support in achieving impact in the most complex and fragile countries around the globe. │ Introduction │ Interview with Ally Arnall, Head of People & Talent │ The Happiness Factor │ Promoting Mental Health │ Fostering Diversity & Inclusion │ Women Leaders Sponsorship Programme │ Staff Council

PLANET 36 We firmly believe in creating stronger economies and transforming lives, but all this cannot happen at the expense of our environment. With a large global footprint like ours, we need to be aware of our impact on the environment, how we can reduce negative effects and ultimately, how to be a net positive contributor. │ Introduction │ Corporate Environmental Sustainability Initiatives │ ASI’s Projects with a Climate/Environment Focus

PARTNERSHIPS 59 Our core values are Impact, Creativity and Partnership. Bringing together people from diverse background and adopting an inclusive approach to work is a key factor in how we operate. This requires effective communication, sharing information, establishing trust and building enduring relationships, so we can achieve impact – together. │ Introduction │ Interview with Nick Haslam, Head of Programme Partnerships │ Partnering on Projects

Leaders that have excelled during this time are those that have been able to connect with their workforce on a human level With a pandemic, political unrest in many countries and environmental disasters, 2020 has been a challenging year. The race for bigger, faster and relentless business growth combined with unsustainable consumption levels has had massive negative consequences on many aspects of our lives. If this year has taught us anything, it is that we need to be kinder to our surroundings and planet. Leaders that have excelled during this time are those that have been able to connect with their workforce on a human level. What many businesses have had to learn this year as part of a string of global crises, is at the centre of every B Corp’s DNA. We didn’t know that our certification would prepare us for challenges other companies might struggle with more during a pandemic, but it did, and it did so using what we learnt in our process to becoming a B Corp and putting our people first. It took us almost three years, and a lot of soulsearching, self-reflection and determination, until we became the 226th B Corp in the UK. We didn’t stop there and certified our entire global group of companies – from Nigeria to Solomon Islands, the Netherlands to Mongolia, Kenya to Pakistan. We came in with the second highest B Impact Assessment score ever awarded in the UK B Corp community. So, not only did we have high hopes for this certification, but we have now also set high expectations to improve our own score in future.  


In 2017, we set ourselves an objective of truly becoming a purpose-driven company. We embarked upon a set of ambitious improvements in our mission, culture, values, corporate governance, internal controls, risk management, technology, workplace diversity and inclusion, employee engagement and environmental practices – a huge list that meant we really had to roll up our sleeves and plough through, always with the goal in mind to becoming a better company.   Today, and as I look back at the various initiatives that arose from our newly enforced commitment to doing better, to transforming lives and to doing so in a socially, environmentally and financially positive way, I can say that our B Corp certification was just the very first of many great days, full of purpose, perseverance and effective partnerships.   This past year, we’ve made great progress against our corporate strategy, and set up important bodies, networks and mechanisms that allow our company and staff to discuss topics that matter and commit to actions across a variety of different areas, such as diversity and inclusion, gender equality, staff participation and environmental practices – to name just a few. We’ve become an active player in the global B Corp community and are playing our part in a number

of important initiatives, such as committing to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2025 and working with B Lab UK and other B Corps on #OperationUpgrade, a collective effort to displace the doctrine of ‘shareholder primacy’. To measure and report the impact of our company, in addition to the B Impact Assessment we have also launched our use of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Action Manager tool. SDG Action Manager is designed to enable meaningful business action through dynamic self-assessment, benchmarking, and improvement against each of the SDGs. Our contribution to the SDGs, and our SDG Action Manager scores can also be found in this report. You will read about these and other initiatives in detail over the coming pages. In a blog article a year ago I wrote that the 17th of September 2019 – the day of our official B Corp certification – was the best day of my career. A year later and having had the pleasure to carry this very reputable badge of honour, I can say that I’ve had many more great days since and in the year ahead, whilst no doubt there will be challenges, I expect many more exciting stories and opportunities to come!

Jonathan Pell

Jonathan Pell,

CEO of Adam Smith International


Five Lessons & Five Commitments



It’s better to focus on a smaller number of priorities and doing them better. At the beginning of our journey to becoming truly purposedriven, we were eager to tackle many things at once but learned that this resulted in spreading ourselves too thinly; so we transitioned to more realistic and more effective prioritisation.


Improving our company requires leadership and the right ‘tone from the top’ – but developing ideas and implementing activities doesn’t have to be top-down. In fact, many of the areas we made most progress in are those that were employee-led, so it’s really important to have a corporate culture that embraces change and to have effective employment engagement mechanisms in place that enable ideas to germinate.


There is a huge disconnect between being an employee-owned business on paper and staff feeling like they really are owners of the company. While we’ve worked hard to establish a spirit of employee ownership, we will continue to be constrained from putting in place stakeholder-driven governance structures and adequate employee incentives until we have been able to separate fully from the shareholder primacy ethos of the past.


We wanted to let our actions speak for themselves and not brag about our new B Corp status – despite being incredibly proud and energised by it (particularly when we discovered we had the second highest score on the B Impact Assessment!). But we learned the more we spoke about being a B Corp, the more we sparked interest, and we’re proud that a few of our partners have since been inspired to look into their own B Corp certification.


There is no trade-off between being purpose-driven and being profitable – the more we invest in our people, purpose and partnerships, the more successful and the more sustainable we will become. It’s time to put to bed once and for all those outdated views on short-term decision-making to only maximise profitability.




Using SDG Action Manager, we will: a) take meaningful action to improve our score against our eleven priority SDGs we have selected; and b) ensure that our score does not fall against our four secondary SDGs.


We will upgrade our approach to supply chain management so that we catalyse large-scale positive change in business practices and performance and ensure that our key suppliers share our values with regard to social and environmental issues.


We will continue to listen and respond to what our staff are telling us by investing more in learning and development and ensuring that staff at levels have access to opportunities to build skills and knowledge.


As a B Corp and implementer of climate change projects for UK government, we will leverage the opportunity created by COP26 to participate in collective action to raise awareness of, and responses to, the Climate Emergency, and continue to reduce our own footprint through better environmental practices.


We will continue to take concrete steps to increase the proportion of female staff in senior positions in our company and reduce the gender pay gap.


ASI’s Global Presence ASI is a people business that is owned and operated by its employees. We are purposedriven and committed to a triple bottom line of financial, environmental and social performance; that commitment was formally recognised when we became a certified B Corp in September 2019. The certification indicates we balance profit and purpose through the highest standards of transparency and accountability. Our clients are governments, development agencies, international finance institutions, companies and foundations. We assist them to design, deliver and evaluate programmes that address the big challenges facing the world.

our purpose. We are headquartered in the UK with offices around the world and operations in more than 30 countries. We are a participant in the UN Global Compact and a member of the UN Global Compact Network UK, which reflects our respect for standards of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. By sharing our knowledge and experience, we help to improve learning in our industry, as well as the positive impact we can have on people’s lives.

As a company with experience of delivering lasting results, including in fragile states and where there is conflict, we are prepared to manage a high level of risk in order to achieve

BRAZIL ENERGY PROGRAMME 50 Implementing innovative uses of clean technologies to support Brazil’s energy transition


Washington DC, USA | America Hub

FUTURE CITIES NIGERIA 42 Building sustainable, resilient and inclusive cities in Nigeria

From our over 60 projects we implement globally, this report features the following four projects as examples of our work.

Projects in Focus Amsterdam, Netherlands | EU Hub London, UK | HQ

Islamabad, Pakistan | South Asia Hub New Delhi, India | South Asia Hub

Lagos, Nigeria | West Africa Hub Nairobi, Kenya | Africa Hub

Sydney, Australia | Asia Pacific Hub

STRONGIM BISNIS 52/66 Making markets work in Solomon Islands

SOMALIA STABILITY FUND 60 Promoting peace and stability in Somalia

│ Paying competitive salaries │ Employee Ownership Scheme │ Flexible working hours



│ Improved assessments and promotions │ Promoting mental health and access to resources │ Promoting diversity and inclusion │ Established staff council │ Created a staff feedback system │ Introduced mandatory unconscious bias online training for staff and leadership │ Investing in technology │ Subsidising wellness through gym memberships and wellbeing time


│ Embedding inclusive hiring practices │ Diversity, equity and inclusion │ Sourcing and promoting local talent │ Working locally │ Participating in UN Global Compact and upholding standards of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption │ Introducing a supplier code of conduct │ Supply Chain Management │ Indigenous Engagement Strategy

│ Achieving third party certifications for our business and services │ Supporting governments to be effective, efficient, and accountable to the public │ Creating value-for-money


│ Serving those in need



│ Partnering with purposeful local organisations


│ Offsetting business travel

│ Subsidising green commutes

│ Creating a carbon-neutral target by 2025

│ Becoming a net-positive contributor to the environment by 2030 │ Introducing in-office recycling and environmentfriendly printing practices

│ Supporting developing countries to become climate-resilient │ Increasing access to sustainable energy worldwide │ Supporting sustainable land use

│ Supporting developing countries to access climate finance – a necessary capital to make the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy


│ Purpose-led mission │ Operational impact through global projects │ Regular updates on corporate strategy │ Transparency around leadership decisions

Supporting the UN Sustaina Development Goals SDGs


73.8% 67.8%

66.4% 59.5% 54.2%







Those that our impact business model, internal operations and supply chain are geared towards making a significant, positive contribution

17 goals, 10 years, thousands of organisations and businesses rallying around one common goal: to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The SDGs are a set of 17 goals and were introduced by the United Nations as a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy a shared and durable prosperity. To support businesses in tracking and achieving impact against the SDGs, B Lab and the United Nations Global Compact have developed an “SDG Action Manager” which we have adopted for ASI: The SDG Action Manager is designed to enable meaningful business action through dynamic self-assessment, benchmarking, and improvement against each of the SDGs. Our scores can be seen on this page and contributions towards the SDGs are featured in the stories within this report.

SECONDARY SDGS Those that our impact business model, internal operations and supply chain are less focused but in which we intend to ‘do no harm’.

30.3% 24.4%







“Our people are our biggest asset” – as a global advisory firm, we are only as good as our workforce. One of our six strategic objectives as a company is to “Be the best place to work for people who want to make a difference”. As with our other objectives, we don’t want this to become a phrase that is just collecting dust at the top of a metaphorical shelf – we want to live by our commitments.

Be the best place to work for people who want to make a difference Our People Strategy is at the heart of the Company Strategy, and articulates our objectives for the People and Talent function in support of all six strategic objectives at the Company level and how we will achieve them. Specifically, we aim to: │ Get the right people, in the right places at the right time; │ Engage, motivate and retain our people; and │ Support our people to learn, develop and progress within ASI. Within this framework we have progressed a number of initiatives, including: Our Women Leaders Sponsorship Programme – launched in Spring 2019, our Women Leaders Sponsorship Programme pairs exceptional women with senior ‘sponsors’ who are asked to actively support the career advancement of the participant by advocating on their behalf, opening up professional networks, creating opportunities, providing coaching and advice and supporting the participant to develop the skills they need to advance. Wellbeing Time – just launched, we are now offering staff four blocks of up to four hours per calendar year to use for wellness activities. It could be to attend their child’s school play, to have an appointment at the hairdresser during the week, to attend a yoga class, or to come in late on a Monday morning after a late-night Sunday flight back from holiday.


Enhancing our learning and development offer to staff through: │ Leadership training – We offer an intensive leadership course to all members of our Senior Management Group. This course has received such excellent feedback that we are using some of the building blocks from this course to develop a new line management training course which will be offered to all line managers starting later this year. │ E-learning – A comprehensive suite of courses are available to staff through our e-learning platform. We use this to ensure all our staff complete essential training, on topics such as bribery, harassment and bullying and cybersecurity. This year we added unconscious bias to the set of mandatory training for staff. Beyond mandatory training, staff are able to take advantage of a huge library of online courses, whether they want to brush up their IT skills or build softer skills. │ Impact Framework – We have invested in codifying the ASI approach to programme delivery in the form of the ‘Impact Framework’. This provides guidance and a range of tools and case studies to staff through an online portal. │ Our L&D Fund – staff can apply for funding to support their individual learning and development activities. We give priority to junior to mid-level staff with this fund and we ensure that at least 50% of the total funding is allocated to women.

Our Team in London, UK – using the scale symbol for equality to show support on social media for Internationl Women’s Day

Less glamorously but just as importantly, we’ve also invested heavily in strengthening the structures and systems for an effective People and Talent function. We’ve moved from a relatively siloed approach to people management, with each country office contracting and managing staff independently to a globally connected approach with strengthened communication between regional offices and our headquarters in London. This has been supported by the roll-out of Microsoft Talent, a comprehensive personnel management system which enables us to create and maintain accurate records of our

employees and consultants across the world, as well as to manage compensation, benefits and performance management processes more efficiently. This has been complemented by a new customer service centre which helps us to manage HR-related queries from staff much more effectively. In the last year, we’ve invested a lot in gathering views from our staff and turning them into actions. You can learn about these initiatives and the impact they had on our company and our people’s satisfaction to work for us over the next few pages.


Our People Drive Our Impact An Interview with Ally Arnall, our Head of People & Talent We hear a lot about the importance of happiness at the workplace – how happy would you say your own staff are working for ASI? Everything we do at ASI and all the impact that we have is driven by our people, so the happiness and wellbeing of our staff is incredibly important to us. We use our staff survey to measure our progress. Our recent staff survey showed that our staff are proud to work for ASI and strongly committed to our mission. It also showed big improvements in how our staff rate us as an employer and how likely they would be to recommend us to friends or relatives. Of course, they gave us some tough messages too – they are really keen to see more learning and development opportunities and improvements to their worklife balance so these are the areas we are now focusing on.

What type of people do you think ASI attracts? What are they driven by? I wouldn’t say there’s an ASI ‘type’ - in fact, it’s our ability to attract such diverse group of people who bring different perspectives to a problem that helps us to develop and implement solutions that work. But we do find that we have a lot in common and I think the thing that ties us together is our values. We push ourselves to think creatively and innovate to find new and better approaches and we are committed to building relationships and partnerships to improve our impact. Ultimately, we are all driven by impact.

A lot of companies believe that their people are their greatest assets – how does ASI recognise its people? How do you invest in them? We offer a competitive package and some excellent benefits, ranging from the really important things like health insurance for staff and their families through to little things which make life easier like a Priority Pass which gives


access to airport lounges when you travel. We also invest in mental health and wellbeing. All staff have access to free, confidential counselling and other mental health support services. We’ve also recently introduced ‘Wellbeing Time’ – four 4-hour blocks of time (in addition to annual leave) that our staff can take off for anything wellness related. Beyond the tangible benefits, our people consistently tell us that they value the level of responsibility and trust they are given, as well as the opportunity to be involved in interesting, challenging and varied work that makes a difference. Wherever possible we’ll support our staff to move into new positions within the Company to build their experience and to progress within ASI.

High-performing employees often seek professional and personal growth and would like to progress – what – what does ASI do to create that space? We’ve always offered our staff a range of exciting and challenging opportunities, which offer plenty of opportunity for personal and professional growth. More recently, over the past couple of years, we’ve invested heavily in our leadership group, with all our senior staff participating in an intensive leadership course, which has received fantastic feedback. However, our staff are keen for us to improve our learning and development offer. That was a clear message in our recent staff survey and it’s something we’re working hard to deliver on. We’ve taken some immediate actions. We’ve given everyone the opportunity to apply for funding to support their individual learning and development needs through a Learning and Development Fund. We’ve also delivered training sessions on ‘Giving Effective Feedback’, as we are firm believers that giving colleagues frequent feedback is a brilliant way to support one another’s growth, and we’re piloting some e-learning courses in core skills such as Excel. I’m also excited to be launching ‘L&D time’ this month, which is a commitment

for every staff member to spend at least 5 days per year dedicated to their personal and professional development. Over the coming year, we’re going to be further developing our offer of structured training, including revamping our staff induction, offering line management training to all line managers, and enhancing our Impact Framework training – that’s our framework for delivering high impact programmes.

of the local contexts in which we work, as well as our global experience such as our work on the Ebola response in West Africa in 2014/15 to understand the nature of the challenge and to develop tailored approaches to tackle the crisis. We worked with our clients to reassess their priorities and in many cases we pivoted our work to support the pandemic response in the countries in which we work. For me this embodied our mission and our values perfectly.

You work all around the globe and often in the most fragile, complex places – how do you find talent in these vastly different contexts?

Diversity, equality and inclusion are hot topics – what does ASI do to walk the talk and ensure women and minorities are represented and/or hiring practices fair and transparent?

We always seek out talented local staff, who bring a strong understanding of the local context and are often more effective in forging strong relationships with key stakeholders. Typically we will also identify local organisations to partner with, who again bring a strong understanding of the local context and a track record of achieving results, as well as contributing technical expertise through their staff and their network of consultants.

2020 in particular has been a difficult year with a lot of changes in the work place due to a global pandemic – how did ASI cope with this crisis and what did it do to protect its staff? It has certainly been a challenging year and personally I feel proud of ASI’s response. We were quick to convene global and regional COVID Management Teams, which provided structures to make quick decisions to ensure all our staff were safe. We gave staff a lot of flexibility – to work remotely, sometimes to work from overseas. We provided guidance and support. Our Mental Health Champions were quick to flag up the mental health and wellbeing challenges the pandemic presented and mental health support is available to all our staff. Importantly, we also recognised the impact of the pandemic on the governments, economies and societies we work to strengthen and support. We drew on our understanding

We believe that being a diverse and inclusive organisation makes us more effective in designing and implementing sustainable solutions to the difficult challenges facing our clients, and it’s also incredibly important to our staff. One challenge we’ve been aware of for some time is that whilst we have a lot of diversity amongst our staff, our staff at the senior leadership grades is disproportionately male. This is one of the reasons that we launched our Women Leaders Sponsorship Programme last year – with the aim of supporting exceptional women to advance within the Company. Recent events and movements like Black Lives Matter have prompted us, like so many others, to reflect on discrimination and injustice, and to reflect on our own track record on diversity and inclusion, to listen to our staff and to understand how we can do better. In this context, a number of new Diversity and Inclusion Champions across the world have brought new energy to our D&I efforts and are currently working with our Executive Team to set new D&I priorities and to refresh our Equality Action Plan.


HEAD OF PEOPLE & TALENT Ally leads our People & Talent team, providing cross-cutting support to our employees and consultants across the world on HR-related matters. She is also our Country Lead for Sierra Leone and Project Director on two programmes working to increase access to water and energy.

The Happiness Factor Staff Survey Results and Actions Taken in Response We want Adam Smith International to be the best place to work for people who want to make a difference and we ask for our staff ’s feedback to help us achieve this. This year, we asked our employees 40 key questions to understand how they feel about working for ASI and to help us to prioritise our time and resources towards action that will make ASI a better place to work.

and it’s great to see that feedback on leadership and line management has improved significantly, our L&D offer for the majority of our staff simply hasn’t been good enough. The survey feedback served as a call to action in this area and we’ve taken immediate action by: │ Giving all staff the opportunity to apply for funding to support their individual learning and development needs through a Learning and Development Fund;

We were proud to see some incredible progress since our first staff survey three years ago. In particular, our Employee Net Promoter Score (a standard measure of staff satisfaction and loyalty) jumped by 41 points – and although we want it to be higher, this is a big step in the right direction. There were 10 other survey questions which were asked in our survey three years ago, and again this year. Scores against every one of these questions improved. In particular, employees better understand ASI’s mission, rate the Executive Team much more positively, and feel significantly happier and more proud to work at ASI.

│ Delivering training sessions on ‘Giving Effective Feedback’, as we are firm believers that giving colleagues frequent feedback is a brilliant way to support one another’s growth; │ Piloting some e-learning courses in core skills such as Excel; │ Launching ‘L&D time’, which is a commitment for every staff member to spend at least 5 days per year dedicated to their personal and professional development; and │ Hiring a specialist Learning and Development Advisor to work with us 5 days a month to develop and deliver our priority training needs.

Overall, we were really pleased to see such positive results around ethical conduct and mission and values. It showed that the effort we had put into defining our mission and putting at the centre of everything we do has really paid off. We were obviously disappointed to see such a low score against learning, development and progression, though it was not entirely surprising as our budget in this area has been limited over the past couple of years and the budget we have had available was focused on providing leadership training to our senior team. Whilst that training received excellent feedback,

This coming year we’re also expanding our offer of structured training, including enhancing our staff inductions, line management trainings to all line managers, and Impact Framework training (the latter is our framework for delivering high-impact programmes). We’ve also committed to repeating the survey annually going forward so that we can measure our progress and continue to make ASI a great place to work for people who want to make a difference.


Recognising the Importance of Mental Wellbeing The Mental Health Champions

In early 2018 we launched an ASI network of Mental Health Champions who were intended to be a source of information, help tackle mental health stigma and instigate initiatives to improve wellbeing amongst their fellow employees. Champions across our global offices were trained by Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, so they would be equipped to support colleagues. We also organised mental health line manager training for staff that year to improve their knowledge and understanding of how best to support their staff in this area. Two years on and in early 2020 we reflected on what we had achieved, aiming to take a brutally honest look at how far we had come but also where we had stalled and what new ideas there were to take onboard. Three key actions came out of the review: │ New co-chairs of the mental health champions were appointed, Nicki and Seerat (see box for an introduction!), who picked up the baton from our fabulous first chairs, Justin and Mele, who had recently left the company. │ A revised, more realistic and action-orientated, Mental Health Policy was developed. It went through a formal review by our People & Talent and Duty of Care Teams to ensure it aligns to wider company commitments and ethos. │ A global all staff launch for the policy, with clear CEO introduction, placing our workers’ mental health as a priority for the company.


These initiatives gave the Mental Health Champions a defined role (to help drive change internally and embed positive changes within their workplace through tackling mental health stigma and instigating initiatives to improve wellbeing amongst their fellow employees) and a solid basis to build from, which has empowered them to think bigger: │ In Q2, a core group of Mental Health Champions launched a new monthly Mental Health Newsletter for staff and associates alike, combining the thoughts, feedback and ideas from workers from across the company with practical ideas for self-help and how managers/leaders can help. Each newsletter has a theme and we’ve covered topics such as ‘kindness’, ‘grief’ and ‘burnout’. ASI staff help us identify and work on themes, topics and articles for future newsletters. │ Following some healthy debate, questions in respect of Mental Health were included in the staff happiness survey and this has given us some great feedback to build upon in 2021.


HEAD OF INTERNAL AUDIT & MENTAL HEALTH CHAMPIONS CO-LEAD Nicki is Head of Internal Audit, providing independent and objective risk based assurance and advice to the Audit Committee and senior management, supporting ASI in its achievement of its objectives whilst assessing compliance against its regulatory requirements.

“Many organisations say people are their 'most important assets'. I joined ASI's Mental Health (MH) Champions group because it's an active demonstration that ASI recognises the importance of good MH, and the Executive Team backs its people to achieve it individually and together.�











MANAGER AND MENTAL HEALTH CHAMPIONS CO-LEAD Seerat is a Manager with the Business Development Team in India and is currently managing the Africa Investment Technical Assistance Facility and Georgia Mining Sector Phase II projects. She is passionate about Mental Health and ASI’s commitment to tackle mental health stigma.

“Having a culture of openness to identify and tackle the causes of work-related mental health problems and taking action to sustain it inspires me.”












ASI has made a commitment to promote and support good mental health at work which is reflected in the company’s two-pronged approach outlined in our mental health policy:

│ Develop mental health KPIs for Line Managers and Mental Health Champions

1. We place emphasis on actively nurturing good mental health in the belief that the best way of preventing and overcoming mental health problems is to deliberately displace them with mental strength and resilience.

│ Encourage line managers and mental health champions to be vigilant for symptoms of possible mental health problems · Make reasonable adjustments to ensure that people with a mental health problem are not disadvantaged at work

2. We provide comprehensive help when our colleagues have problems relating to mental health, and make it easy for them to access that help. We want to deliver on that commitment. The Mental Health Champions developed and actively monitor progress towards implementing its new work plan with defined projects and actions that will see mental health remaining at the heart of the company, such as: │ Provide mental health training for line managers │ Appoint and train mental health champions across different regions

│ Adopt a zero-tolerance approach to potentially offensive remarks about mental health

│ Provide regular information on mental health (through internal campaigns, newsletters, an interactive Sharepoint site, lunch and learns) It’s still early days. So far, we have not formally measured the impact that the actions we have taken have made. Setting KPIs will help us with this. But informal feedback indicates mental health is now a subject up for quiet conversation and even open discussion rather than a hidden topic. We received feedback that said that even some of the most hardened sceptics had bought into and recognised the need for action. For us, that’s a great ‘win’ and in our Impact Report next year we will update you on the progress made towards implementing these plans.


Fostering a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace The Diversity & Inclusion Champions Recognising the importance and benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace and following the global movement on race and diversity through the #BlackLivesMatter initiative, this year ASI re-established its Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Champions Group. The D&I Champions are a team of enthusiastic individuals from across different geographies, from Nairobi to Delhi, and across seniorities all committed to making ASI a more diverse and inclusive workplace. To realise the benefits of diversity and inclusion within ASI, the D&I Champions have the following aims:

To deliver on this strategy, the Diversity & Inclusion team are in the process of establishing a Diversity & Inclusion Action plan which comprises a matrix of challenges and functions. The challenges relate to identity groups that are currently either under-represented or disadvantaged – for example, disability, age, women, LGBTQ+, race, power & privilege, etc. The functions relate to areas of the business where changes can be made to embed change – for example, policies, recruitment, retention, communications, training and professional development. Each D&I Champion will own a ‘challenge’ and a ‘function’ and their responsibility will be to define and implement the actions to address issues in this area.The initiatives, however, will need to be delivered by others across the company and we are therefore strongly encouraging all staff to include participation in a D&I initiative as part of their annual objectives.  Given limited resources, our approach is to scale-back ambitions and define a realistic Diversity & Inclusion Plan that can generate real change. Our approach to defining the actions that the Diversity & Inclusion team will work on is guided by addressing identified issues or areas



At a minimum, meet statutory requirements on diversity and inclusion both within the UK and in the countries in which we operate; 


Instil structures and processes that can improve representation of groups which are underrepresented; and, 


Create and embed an inclusive culture, that values diversity, informs the way we interact with colleagues, clients and beneficiaries, and makes us a better provider of solutions for a stronger society.

of underrepresentation, highlighted through the staff survey data, through the Staff Council or raised anonymously by staff. We are hoping to have the Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan defined in the next month, so that the team can begin implementing the actions required to build a more diverse and inclusive ASI.

Diversity and inclusion looks different everywhere we work. In Australia, ASI released its first Indigenous Engagement Strategy after extensive consultation and cultural competence training from our partners at i2i Development Global. ASI Australia is drafting its Reconciliation Action Plan and will continue to centre diversity and inclusion in everything we do in Australia and in the Pacific.

”I am keen to play a role in assessing options for change, and making recommendations for driving more inclusive policies, practices and behaviours at ASI, including how D&I can be embedded into core business activities as part of overall company strategy.”

JAMES OWILLA Finance Manager Africa

“The challenges we face on a daily basis are diverse. If our teams are not diverse then we’re simply not going to overcome the challenges and succeed.” ZANE KANDARIAN Directaor - North America

DANIEL OLOAFE Trainee Solicitor PTLE

“I joined the D&I Champions because I wanted to help to create work environment where everyone feels welcome and included no matter their background.” DEEPA SOLANKI* Senior Manager

“I joined the committee as I am keen for ASI to pave the way for greater diversity, meaningful inclusion, and to set an example for our clients and the wider development sector.”

“I am keen to support ASI in becoming a more diverse and inclusive workplace where all staff feel confident and comfortable being themselves and having their voices heard.”


SHARON CHESIRE Assistant Manager

“I believe the D&I committee is an excellent way for me to channel the discomfort and fear I experience which stems from what minorities are being subjected to around the world and turning that into positive action.” DEVANSHI GUPTA Manager - India

“The D&I initiative is important because it provides a platform for uncomfortable conversations that feed into activities that show us what we can do better, as individuals, as ASI and as a larger global community.”

KASHMALI KHAN Principal 31 Manager - Programme Partnerships

“Diversity, equality and inclusion are so important but often companies just pay lip service to them. Joining the committee is my way of ensuring we don’t risk this being the case at ASI but truly achieve positive change together.”

Where There is Equality, There is Progress The Women Leaders Sponsorship Programme

In 2018, we commissioned a research paper to understand more about the lived experiences of women at ASI and to identify barriers to their personal and career advancement. The report showed that our leadership team at the time was male-dominated, with too few women being recruited or promoted into senior positions. This made women feel that leadership at ASI is a male domain, without an enabling environment for women to advance, due to cultural and structural barriers and a lack of clarity about leadership pathways.


GAP 22%

We took these results and made it our mission to act on them. Since the report, we have managed to correct gender proportions in a number of different seniority levels. Since then we also launched our Women Leaders Sponsorship Programme which aims at reducing gender imbalance in leadership roles and bridging the gender pay gap. The programme pairs exceptional women with senior staff sponsors (men and women) who actively support the career advancement of the participant by advocating on their behalf, opening up professional networks, creating opportunities, providing coaching and advice and supporting the participant to develop the skills they need to advance. Nine women currently participate in the programme.


GAP 36%






When there is equality, virtues such as respect, honesty, and fairness flourish.

For a long time, I, like most women, felt that the company had not sufficiently addressed the gender inequality gap. I felt that our male counterparts had an unfair advantage with regards to pay, promotion, participation in leadership activities and recognition of effort. It was therefore very encouraging when ASI introduced the Women Leaders Sponsorship Programme, whose purpose was to achieve equal outcomes for women at the workplace and reduce gender imbalance in the leadership team as well as bridge the gender pay gap. I gladly applied to join the programme, because it promised a link with senior staff sponsors who would actively support my career advancement. I have always been an exceptional performer, but for a long time I felt as if my career advancement was inhibited by lack of visibility, fear, and uncertainty of whether I could be a good leader. Being selected as part of the first cohort, served as a great morale boost, not only for me but other women in the company and in Africa in specific.

My experience in the programme has been exceptional. At the start of the programme, I thought I had a clear plan for my career advancement. However, following in-depth discussions with my sponsor, this plan turned out to be vague and not ambitious enough. The best part of the programme was access to one-on-one coaching and advice from my sponsor which led me to self-reflect, develop actionable objectives, identify skill gaps, and formulate clear paths on how to bridge those gaps. Through my sponsor, I was able to obtain valuable feedback from my direct leads, which included areas of strength and weaknesses, identifiable leadership traits and areas of development. I can now say that my visibility within the company has improved, I’m receiving a lot of support from the Africa Leadership team and even got promoted this year to an Operations Manager, Kenya. Most importantly, my coach has also become a friend.”


OPERATIONS MANAGER KENYA & WOMEN LEADERS SPONSORSHIP PROGRAMME PARTICIPANT Winnie is the Operations Manager for Kenya, providing administrative, contract management and compliance support to the Africa Management team, operational and logistical support to Kenya and project offices across the region.


Helping Employees Shape the Company They Want to Work For The Staff Council With our decision to become a B Corp, we also embarked on a long, but rewarding journey to improve our company from within. Through consultations and reforms, we recognised that there needs to be a closer link between the Executive Team (ET) and staff. We committed to governance that was more consistent with the spirit of an Employee Owned Trust and saw the need to bring different perspectives into the thinking of the ET with more joined-up decision-making. There was a need for greater transparency and opportunity for collaboration on the issues that come up in the professional lives of staff, as well as on the big decisions that shape our business and the company. With this in mind, we set up the Staff Council that is designed as a formal channel of communication between all staff and the ET, supplementing previous ways of mainly interacting through senior staff and line managers and regular dialogue. The purpose of the Staff Council was to discuss employeerelated issues and key company initiatives and business matters across all our regional hub areas and not just London. It strives to create and maintain a working environment which is conducive to the achievement of the organisational, team and individual objectives and which promotes effective and harmonious working conditions. The Staff Council is comprised of five members: four elected employees from across grades, roles and geographies and one associate representing our project staff. Since its establishment the Council has been an excellent way to build employee satisfaction and to support strong decision-making for better company outcomes. The Council set up several communications lines with staff, either directly through oneon-ones where members of the Council


encouraged staff to use or anonymously through a letterbox that allows staff to raise concerns and suggestions that they may otherwise not feel comfortable sharing. Both these channels have seen a steady increase of use by staff which has allowed Council members to put forward several ideas, suggestions or concerns from staff to the ET and has allowed the ET to discuss and respond to issues. Two specific examples of staff using this new channel effectively have been around 1) internal appraisals and promotions and 2) diversity and inclusion. On appraisals and promotions, staff put forward ideas around how the process could be streamlined better and line managers trained in a more effective feedback system. We’ve taken this feedback on board and have since launched a new online system that systematically captures feedback and we are also looking into how to better train line management on effective feedback processes. On diversity and inclusion, the Staff Council organised a well-received focus group discussion and a comprehensive list of recommendations on how to improve diversity and inclusion at the company – ideas that will be further prioritised and put into action with the relaunch of our new Diversity and Inclusion Committee. It has also been an excellent way to keep our Associates on projects across the world updated on the company as a whole but also give them an opportunity to have their views taken into account or raise any issues or concerns. Feedback from Associates has shown that this has been welcomed by many and there is an appreciation of “having a voice”. Going forward, our Staff Council will continue to play an important bridging role between staff and management and continue to collect, analyse and progress ideas from staff which will in turn further improve our company.

PETER MCGREGOR – LONDON, UK Representing employees located in a corporate hub location (e.g. UK, Kenya, Australia, USA, India) in programme delivery and/or business development role.

ANN COLLINS – MALLORCA, SPAIN Representing project staff/ associates all those contracted for a specific contract on a fixed term basis.

ONASSIS WALKER – FREETOWN, SIERRA KETE SHABANI – LEONE Representing employees located in NAIROBI, KENYA country other than a corporate hub location (e.g.UK, Kenya, Australia, USA, India) in a programme delivery and/or business development role.

Representing employees located in a corporate hub location in a business services role & staff council chair.


HEAD OF GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS & STAFF COUNCIL CHAIR Kete is in charge of both the corporate communications direction as well as supporting projects across the globe in better telling and packaging their stories.

“I believe in people-centric leadership and so it’s natural that employee voices matter a whole lot to me. I joined the Staff Council to make sure these voices are heard and leadership better informed of what truly moves their workforce.”


ALI FAISAL – ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN Representing employees in a country other than a corporate hub location in a business services role & staff council secretary.


Among our initiatives to reduce our carbon use, including a concerted effort to reduce our international travel, we have teamed up with fellow B Corp Climate Care to offset the carbon emissions from those unavoidable flights. Climate Care’s simple emissions calculator helps to reduce the negative effects of climate change in a way that improves lives of the most vulnerable. In 2019 we offset 142 tonnes with Climate Care.




BY 2025

ASI Environmental Initiatives At ASI, sustainability is core business but since becoming a certified B Corp, we have made real efforts to improve our environmental practices at a corporate level as well as select programmes with a positive environmental impact: │ We introduced a ban on plastic in the workplace │ We introduced a ban on domestic flights (within Europe) │ We offset carbon from flights (for leadership and senior management) │ We have initiated a tree-planting initiative in Pakistan │ We advise regional offices to print on environmentally friendly paper (where absolutely necessary or go all-digital altogether!) │ We partnered with WSP Global to develop an environmental assessment methodology for reviewing our facilities and projects worldwide and to build a dashboard to monitor and report our performance on key indicators including carbon emissions, air travel, office space used and waste. │ Our global network of Environment Champions conduct education and learning sessions with staff │ We implement programmes around the world that support countries to transition to low carbon economies


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Offset

Corporate Environmental Sustainability Initiatives

In February 2020, ASI’s global network of Environment Champions developed a new Environment Policy underpinned by the company’s “reduce, reuse, recycle, offset” environmental strategy and setting out the procedures to respond to an environmental incident. The new policy is applicable to all ASI employees and self-employed contractors worldwide and is publicly available on the company’s website here. ASI’s environmental strategy is focused on the reduction in consumption at both the corporate and the project level. However, we recognise that, as a business, certain types of consumption cannot be avoided. When consumption cannot be avoided, we expect our workers to recycle, where possible. We also recognise that flight travel contributes

to significant carbon emissions. With the investment the company has made in technology, with the global roll out of Microsoft Teams for calls and chat and video conference facilities in 2019, we hope that this will help reduce the requirement for business travel. However, we are aware that in the international development sector in which we operate, air travel cannot be avoided and we are therefore delighted to now be working in partnership with Climate Care to help us offset our flight emissions with gold standard carbon offsets. Whilst we are currently unable to offset all of our emissions, in this first phase we are working with Climate Care to offset the flight emissions of our Board, Executive Team and Internal Audit team when travelling for business purposes.


MANAGER & ENVIRONMENT TEAM LEAD Megan is in charge of our Environment Team and is working to strengthen ASI environmental data collection so we can better understand have we can reduce our carbon footprint and be a net positive contributor to the environment.

“We all have a role to play to fight climate change and I joined the Environment Team to make a difference.” 40

Planting Trees in Pakistan ASI South Asia’s first green initiative involved a plantation drive that was held on the 11th April 2019 in Islamabad and Lahore. 1000 trees, mostly indigenous, were planted in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and local partners. A large number of ASI Pakistan staff volunteered a half day to participate in the tree plantation and had a lot of fun spending the day planting trees to help offset their carbon footprint.

We conduct yearly, systematic reviews of facilities and projects worldwide using an environmental assessment questionnaire. Our Environment Lead is currently working with external experts to analyse the data produced through these questionnaires to generate a report for the company.

ASI’s global network of Environment Champions conduct education and learning sessions with its employees on environmental issues to increase awareness and stimulate positive behaviour change and also write and circulate a quarterly newsletter to all staff, the “ASI Green Times”, to raise awareness of new company policies, company examples of best practice and updates on the bigger picture of environmental issues worldwide.


The Green Factor ASI’s Projects with a Climate/Environment Focus

In addition to our corporate commitment to the environment, a lot of our work around the globe responds to the devastating impact a rapidly changing climate has on communities and environments. Climate change threatens the survival of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and has devastating impact on economies, agriculture, infrastructure and communities. For us this means that our work and our projects achieve most when they help communities around the world adapt their agricultural practices to changes in the climate and support

them in being more resilient and better prepared for climate shocks. It also means that we need to help governments and businesses around the globe to create markets for renewable energy sources and help cities design their infrastructure in a way that withstands climate impact. We implement a number of projects that aim to do just that, three of which we showcase on the following pages.

Future Cities Nigeria Building Sustainable, Resilient, and Inclusive Cities in Nigeria

Cities are critical engines of growth: they offer the prospect for increased employment opportunities and improved standards of living to help lift people out of poverty. Pulled by the appeal of cities, urban migration is increasing at an unprecedented scale, and Nigerian cities are no exception witnessing explosive growth over the past few decades. Over 2,000 people emigrate to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, every day and the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2100 Lagos will be become the world’s largest megacity with a population of over 88 million inhabitants.


The scale and speed of urbanisation is placing immense strain on existing urban infrastructure and basic service provisions, such as water supply, sanitation, and waste management within these cities. Rapid urbanisation also gives rise to an expansion of slums and informal settlements, where inhabitants are often excluded from access to affordable housing, good-quality basic services, and better jobs. Climate change and environmental concerns further complicate the urbanisation challenge, with megacities facing air pollution issues and other environmental shocks. Adam Smith International, in partnership with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and UN Habitat, is delivering the Future Cities Nigeria programme to encourage sustainable urban development and inclusive prosperity in two Nigerian cities, Lagos and Abeokuta. Future Cities Nigeria is a component of the Prosperity Fund’s Global Future Cities Programme, which is delivering targeted urban, transport and resilience interventions across 10 countries worldwide.

Future Cities Nigeria is working closely with Nigerian state governments, private sector and communities to address urban development challenges arising from rapid urbanisation in Lagos and Abeokuta. The programme is establishing the frameworks to make these cities more livable and accessible for the women, men and youth that live there, and to attract domestic and international investment. Its key interventions include: │ Defining and implementing a strategy to encourage private sector participation on Lagos waterways │ Developing inclusive guidelines for urban renewal programmes in and around Lagos │ Preparing a public transport policy for Abeokuta │ Drafting an Urban Masterplan and renewal guidelines for Abeokuta Underpinning each of these interventions is a strong commitment to gender and social inclusion to ensure that improved urban and transport planning and resilience processes, create significant benefits for women, girls, and other marginalised groups. The programme’s inclusive approach is focussed on generating growth, attracting investment and creating jobs for all.


Brazil Energy Programme

(BEP) Implementing Innovative Uses of Clean Technologies to Support Brazil’s Energy Transition

Brazil is an emerging leader in renewable energy with enormous potential in solar, wind and biomass. However, growth in renewable energy in Brazil is likely to be severely affected by recent economic shocks. When it has grown it has failed to impact the lives of the poorest in society. Furthermore, the growth potential is limited by the relatively closed nature of the Brazilian economy. The biodiesel market, for example, has been dominated by large biofuel producers at the expense of small farmers and biodiversity; solar energy has grown exponentially but only in the upper and middle-income market segments; waste-to-energy has struggled to attract investment despite enormous resources and favourable legislation; offshore


wind lacks a regulatory framework and Brazil’s vast deposits of natural gas have not been leveraged to support transition to a low carbon economy. Through BEP, which is funded by the FCDO, we are working with the Ministry of Mines and Energy to develop mechanisms that will help small farmers participate in biofuel supply chains, models that will allow solar businesses to service low-income energy consumers, guidelines and capacity so that municipalities can raise finance and launch waste to energy initiatives, frameworks for offshore wind producers to make confident investments and market reforms that will allow natural gas to support transition to renewable energies.

While BEP is at the early stages of a 3-year implementation, the ambition is to:












BEP works by bringing UK and Brazilian expertise together to demonstrate new technologies, test out new business models and provide advisory support to Brazil’s government officials so that they can move the renewable energy agenda forward. We are working at both the federal level with ministries and regulatory agencies on issues such as emissions trading, regulatory frameworks and environmental standards, and at the state and municipality level on competitiveness and investment. The focus for all interventions is on making renewable energy inclusive so that it increases affordability of electricity and fuel to consumers, creates jobs for women,

the poor and marginalized, and reduces the impact of climate change on those who are most vulnerable to its effects. A central aspect of BEP initiative is a series of technology pilot projects in Brazil, where local and international companies design scalable UK-led projects to demonstrate innovative use of low carbon technologies such as solar, storage, smart grids, biogas and biodiesel. The first pilot involves installation of photovoltaic panels, batteries and smart monitoring systems, providing energy to low income families in a community in the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, with strong engagement from a utility company and the community.


Solomon Islands An Example of Incorporating Environmental Initiatives into Programming


Rami is our project manager on Strongim Bisnis, a programme in Solomon Islands that aims to make markets work. His development journey started in Syria, where he has also worked on some of our most complex projects.


“In line with the Australian Government’s Environmental and Social Safeguards Policy for Aid Programmes, Strongim Bisnis developed safeguards to ensuring environmentally sustainable and climate-informed activities throughout the program’s implementation. The program recognises that environment protection and climate resilience is critical to the sustainability of the industries which the program works in. Strongim Bisnis also actively identifies commercial opportunities and partnerships to promote improved environmental and social outcomes in order to enhance the viability of the target sectors and better-equip them to respond to any climate challenges.” 55

The coconut industry makes a significant contribution to Solomon Islands’ economy, with an annual revenue of around $100 million. This is however currently under threat from the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB), a voracious pest which spreads easily and kills coconut trees. Yet many local farmers have little knowledge on how to address this challenge. This is why Strongim Bisnis, together with several partners, designed and rolled-out a national behaviour change communication campaign with information on how to contain CRB. Messages were spread via radio shows, bulk text messages and billboards and by the end of the campaign, 60% of survey respondents expressed that these messages were very helpful or extremely helpful to understand the impact and ways to contain the CRB.




BRINGING SOLAR PANELS TO REMOTE VILLAGES Currently, less than 20% of the population has access to an electrical power supply. When electricity is available, it is costly. In areas where electrical power supply is limited or unavailable, communities may resort to the more expensive and polluting diesel generators. We have been supporting the West ‘Are’Are Rokotanikeni Association (WARA), a women’s savings club association and a solar panel supplier, SunPower. By connecting WARA with SunPower in Strongim Bisnis has helped promote women’s entrepreneurship and access to solar energy in rural areas. This initiative is in its testing phase, but has the potential to increase the overall access to electric power in rural areas while replacing more expensive and polluting diesel generators. If successful it could reach more than 3,000 women in the WARA network.

Strongim Bisnis is an Australian Government-funded programme that promotes sustainable and inclusive economic growth through the cocoa, coconut and tourism sectors in Solomon Islands. The programme works with businesses, industry and government to strengthen collaboration, help businesses innovate, build commercial resilience and manage market risks. It’s one project example on how we promote environmentally friendly and/or climate-resilient initiatives through our global programming.

The cocoa industry involves 26% of the population and contributes 5.4% of the GDP. Most of the cocoa is dried using “Kukum Dryers”, home-made dryers that use firewood to create heat. Sourcing firewood encourages the felling of natural vegetation and releases smoke. It also negatively affects the quality of the dried cocoa bean and the health of those using it. To combat the environmental, health and quality impacts Kukum dryers have, we supported the importation and distribution of an alternative cocoa bean dryer called a “Bubble Dryer”. These solar dryers do not use firewood but the renewable energy of the sun. By using Bubble Dryers, there is less need to cut down trees, less smoke is produced and the quality of the beans and users’ health is less likely to be negatively affected.



In Solomon Islands, many land owners log their land for income. Local entities like the Titiru Eco Lodge and the Western Province Tourism Association (WPTA) worked to find sustainable ways to earn income without having to turn to logging. The WPTA helped the Lodge design and package additional activities like bird watching and trekking. We then assisted Titiru in training its staff in waste management, access tourism funds and generally improve environmentally friendly business practices. Sustainable Tourism has proven to provide an alternative to logging. For example, a portion of the income is given back to the village development fund, and Titiru also employs people from the nearby village. The villagers get the best of both worlds, unspoilt nature and regular income via the operations and growth of the Titiru Eco Lodge.


Partnerships We are a global company with a wide-reaching, global network of different stakeholders. Bringing together people from diverse backgrounds and adopting an inclusive approach to work is what we do best and the reason a lot of our projects are successful, even in the most complex of places. Our clients are diverse, too, and include governments, international organisations, companies, and foundations. We partner with them to design, deliver and evaluate programmes that address the big challenges facing the world. Our most successful tool in the way we operate is localisation, addressing global problems through local knowledge, expertise and solutions. This is why partnerships continue to play such a crucial part in our business. Over the next few pages you will be able to learn more about why we value partnerships so much and what they help us achieve.

Forging Meaningful Partnerships to Transform Lives An Interview with Nick Haslam, our Head of Programme Partnerships Why are partnerships so important in sustainable development? Development programmes respond to, and inform in turn, donor plans and host country policies and priorities. Different clients have different drivers and influences, responding to ministerial and political direction or sector strategies, for example, as well as the background and motivations of individuals. There are often complexities and misalignments between the intentions and plans of donors and host countries and within host country hierarchies there may be competing priorities and interests. For these reasons partnerships are vital for the success and durability of development initiatives, both between ASI and its clients and between ASI and the numerous actors of all sizes, specialties and nationalities, that occupy that international development arena.

What does ASI do to create impactful partnerships? How do you choose your partners?

donors, and most of all serving the objectives of host country clients and programmes. We create partnerships by a) knowing our field and geographies, the important themes and challenges, and the latest developments; b) by maintaining and advancing our networks via daily contacts and more formal conferences and collaborations; and c) by delivering programmes and advice to a high standard such that we are an attractive partner to other organisations. We choose our partners based on their technical and geographical expertise and their own networks and influence as well as on previous relationships. We may, for example, seek a specialist group in gender and inclusion or with expertise in the Indian energy sector. We often have longstanding arrangements with organisations that enable us to join forces effectively with a high degree of trust. We tend to make partnership decisions by committee rather than based on a single opinion.

At ASI we create and deploy partnerships in every aspect of our mandate – communicating and advancing research and learning, preparing proposals and engaging with


HEAD OF PROGRAMME PARTNERSHIPS Nicholas is in charge of improving our programme partnerships and has 12 years’ experience designing and delivering development projects in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. He has worked on institutional and governance reform, climate change and sustainability, and economic development in Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan and Kenya – as well as stabilisation and security and justice reform in Syria, Somalia, and Burundi.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role and how do you/ASI try to overcome them?

From your/ASI’s experience, what are factors that make partnerships, especially in fragile contexts, more effective?

I face two main challenges. The first is that the international development sector is large and extremely active and it thus can be difficult to make one’s voice heard in the fray, especially given ASI is a relatively small organisation compared to major international actors. The second lies in knowing which partnerships to choose, particularly in new sectors or countries and in complex, conflict-affected situations. To overcome these challenges I use the aforementioned factors – knowing our subject matter, keeping up our networks, and delivering excellent programmes – alongside the in-house expertise that ASI holds.

In conflict-affected countries our ability to understand and engage with the trends, sensitivities, pitfalls and actors that are involved rests to a large extent on the viability of our partnerships. Partnerships exhibit similar characteristics and types to those already mentioned but they depend to a greater extent on trust, the granularity of information, transparency and visibility, and the ability to monitor and respond to risks.

A lot of systems we rely on currently are broken (e.g. economies, governmental bodies and/or environmental ecosystems). How do partnerships aim to fix them? Good, trusting partnerships leverage expertise, networks, understanding of politics, economic, sectors from climate change and infrastructure to public financial management and subnational government reform, and cultural appreciation. They enable reforms, advice and capacity building to take hold and generate commitment to a shared endeavour amongst clients. Without partnerships, in fact, our efforts would be viable to fail. Partnerships can take many forms, from the provision of analysis on agricultural markets to dispersal of a grant to a community NGO, from coordination with an industry association where both parties increase their leverage to a relationship with a government ministry we are advising.

How important is sharing knowledge and experience with others? How does ASI do this? Many factors rest on our ability to share knowledge and experience: the growth and expertise of our staff, the culture of the organisation as being at the frontier of the development sector, the ability to influence donor decisions and programmes as well as host country governments and other NGOs and consultancies, and the wider contribution to academic and media understanding. ASI achieves these via in-house lunch-and-learn sessions, sponsoring lectures in many of the countries in which we work, policy papers and project briefs, partnerships with think tanks such as Chatham House or the Overseas Development Institute, contributions to conferences, in education for example, and development sector partnerships in the UK.


The Somalia Stability Fund


Promoting Peace and Stability in Somalia

War, warlords, famine, pirates – all have defined Somalia’s last couple of decades. Without a central government, public services collapsed, mistrust has grown and the economy has suffered. In 2012, Somalia’s first formal parliament was sworn in, offering hope for the country’s future. In the same year, the Somalia Stability Fund (SSF) was created: a multi-donor programme funded by the UK, European Union, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Germany. SSF is an ambitious, innovative and farreaching programme that supports the development of a peaceful, stable and secure Somalia. Despite a difficult environment, SSF has more than 60 implementing partners and has invested in more than 100 projects across Somalia. The Fund supports representative and responsive local governance and the resolution and mitigation of conflicts in the


country. It values internal solutions and prioritises support and capacity-building to Somali-owned organisations and networks, as well as both private sector and government entities. It is committed to learning, adapting and openly communicating about funding decisions in order to determine the most effective mechanisms. Existing investments support communitydriven development, youth empowerment projects, and peace-building and communitysafety initiatives. ASI was contracted as the Fund Manager for the project in 2013 for Phase I and again in 2017 for Phase II, and is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of implementing partners, managing the Fund’s communications and developing the capacity of investees.

Partnering on the Fund The Somalia Stability Fund is currently working in almost 70 districts across Somalia to deliver much needed stabilization and lifesaving investment. In its work, SSF pride itself in working with regional government, district administration, civil societies, national and international non-governmental organization to deliver its work. Currently, the SSF work with more than 90 partners who are strategically delivering services across all the states of Somalia. The fund has over 100 investments in the work plan, with almost as many partners including private sector, civil society, NGOs. This help the fund to work with organization that understand local context which can deliver much needed result on investments in all states across Somalia. SSF supports investments that support local owned solutions and structures that address communal causes of conflict and instability by creating opportunities for reconciliation and collaboration around mutual interests.


SSF is guided by key principles of local ownership and sustainability. It is committed to high-quality programming. Among the principles that guide the fund are the key implementation principles that include been flexible and adopting as well as promoting local ownership. SSF is alignment with government priorities and we proud to invest in government visibility and leadership across all investments, whilst at the same time supporting government- community engagement and responsive delivery, as the key to building trust between communities and government and ensuring sustainability. The Fund engages with Somali politics to understand incentives and identify investments; and use project funding and the Secretariate Office’s influence to help to build confidence in political processes and underpin the agreements that come out of them, including through use of performance funding where opportunities emerge.





SSF is far-reaching and impact driven:

100 OVER






Strongim Bisnis Making Markets Work in Solomon Islands

Despite its substantial economic potential, Solomon Islands remains one of the poorest countries in the Pacific. High operating costs, high transportation costs, low export volumes as compared to the region/world, land rights issues and low human resource capacity hamper Solomon Islands’ efforts to promote domestic and international investment. Strongim Bisnis, which is funded by the Australian Government, addresses the root causes of dysfunction in markets by facilitating change. The project focuses on the key sectors of cocoa, coconut and tourism – key drivers of economic growth for Solomon Islands households. We have worked with businesses in these sectors to increase their productivity by helping them access more income-earning opportunities


and higher-value markets to build a more resilient economic base. By piloting, experimenting, and partnering with a wide range of organisations, Strongim Bisnis was able to quickly learn and adapt solutions to best facilitate change. Solutions include providing technical expertise and guidance on implementation to set in place economic models that increase income, create jobs and lower prices for the poorest. The cross-cutting approach ensured that the most marginalised populations— such as women, youth and those living with disability—benefit from initiatives implemented in each sector to ensure broad and sustainable economic inclusion.

The Strongim Bisnis partnership with local businesses and organisations, provided innovative business models and market insights, linking key players, facilitating access to financing, and fostering a better business enabling environment. More than 20 successful businesses, government and non-government entities in Solomon Islands became partners to provide technical advice, leverage funds and create networks to change business practices.


Our partners across three sectors have undertaken a whole range of initiatives, such as bringing higher-quality and more environmentally-friendly cocoa processing products to local farmers, raising awareness of the significant threat the coconut rhinoceros beetle poses to the local coconut industry and supporting tourism businesses to improve their offerings and increase their sales.







Partnering on Strongim Bisnis – Example of Cathliro Chocolate Haus Before COVID-19, Cathliro bought wet (fresh) cocoa beans from Solomon Islands farmers and exported them internationally. The beans were often lower quality, so attracted low export prices. During COVID-19, Cathliro's cocoa supply was disrupted because travel restrictions hindered farmers' ability to transport their beans. To assist, Strongim Bisnis focused on the beans that Cathliro did receive. Strongim Bisnis provided training and investment to help Cathliro improve the

quality of these cocoa beans. Improved bean quality then helped Cathliro attract higher export prices for fewer beans. Strongim Bisnis also trained Cathliro staff to create value-added cocoa products such as chocolate, which were market trialed in New Zealand. Strongim Bisnis facilitated the commercial agreement, which helped Cathliro increase domestic and international sales of its value-added products.





UK Adam Smith International 240 Blackfriars Road London SE1 8NW United Kingdom +44 20 7735 6660

Africa Adam Smith International West End Towers Wayaki Way PO Box 26721-00100 Nairobi Kenya +254 20 444 4388

Asia Pacific Adam Smith International Suite 103, 80 William Street Woolloomooloo Sydney NSW 2011 Australia +61 2 8265 0000

North America Adam Smith International 1629 K ST. Suite 300 Washington, DC 20006 United States of America +1 (202) 873-7626

EU Adam Smith Europe B.V. Keizersgracht 62, 1015 CS Amsterdam, Netherlands +31 (0)20 520 7400


Profile for Adam Smith International

Annual Impact Report  

In September 2019, ASI celebrated its first anniversary as a certified B Corp. In this report you can read about our social and environmenta...

Annual Impact Report  

In September 2019, ASI celebrated its first anniversary as a certified B Corp. In this report you can read about our social and environmenta...