In addressing social problems, the scale of the problem requires a greater reliance on partnering. Partners often provide expertise, distribution, local networks and capital to name just a few of the benefits. Partnering is a key part of any social venture business model and therefore an opportunity for innovation. (See Innovation in Large Companies)
Last night I met the CEO of an early stage healthcare for-profit company. He is raising capital and building partnerships to sell his product. Potential partners include everybody from hospital chains, health insurance companies and Medicare to America's largest corporations. He told me he had received an acquisition offer from one prospective partner but discussions broke down over valuation. The acquisition offer came from a non-profit! This was a first for me, seeing a non-profit as the acquiror. Definitely a new form of partnering.
This article from SSIR, "The Rise of a Fourth Sector Skills Set", provides some other examples of new forms of partnering for social ventures. The author believes that the ability to innovate in developing partnerships is a key expertise that young social entrepreneurs need. I agree.
The last post on social entrepreneurship is "When For-Profit is the Right Answer for a Social Enterprise".