Absa, a tier-1 Pan-African bank present across 12 African markets, was looking to strengthen their pre-existing focus on new business model innovation and growth. Absa were clear that that third party partnerships would be critical to realising this vision. They were looking to accelerate the build out of the strategy and capability to enable effective partnerships with these third parties.

Why Elixirr?

  • You can’t out-innovate the market. To truly embed innovation into your business, partnering with startups and other corporates is key. Absa wanted to work collaboratively with a company that had experience in facilitating successful strategic partnerships to fast track progress
  • Combining our own global innovation network of startups and venture capital firms with Absa’s existing relationships in the market created meaningful collaboration to further enhance Absa’s innovation strategy. The combined network would enable Absa to better link to market trends, gain exposure to new business models, validate internal strategies, and critically, seek out and secure partnership opportunities to support their growth agenda
  • We have a long-standing relationship with Absa that has allowed us to work closely with them as one team in achieving rapid progress in the effective delivery of the strategic partnerships capability.

The challenge

The bank already had a clear vision for developing a growing ecosystem of potential partners to tap into. Our job was to work closely with them to enhance the ecosystem’s reach and impact, making sure the best VCs, startups, accelerators and corporates were engaged to enable Absa’s innovation agenda. This ecosystem, alongside a bespoke capability, would help Absa to continuously source market-leading innovation partners that aligned to their strategic business objectives and enabled the rapid co-creation of new value propositions to take to market.

The approach

A vision, strategy and business model were defined for the establishment of a Digital Partnerships capability, as well as a targeted strategic approach for ecosystem development. The case for change was outlined, focusing on how leading companies are enabling digital transformation in conjunction with wider macro market trends that demanded proactive action.

In line with Absa’s vision, we supported with the development of an in-depth operating model for the capability and worked alongside the client team to establish a network of relevant strategic partners, including venture capital firms, accelerators, incubators, start/scale ups, tech incumbents and corporates. This would allow Absa to build and maintain a healthy pipeline of partnership opportunities and scalable proof-of-concepts to test value. The combined Absa and Elixirr team worked to deliver the following outcomes:

  • Established an engagement model with forums and key business stakeholders, including both relevant heads of strategy alongside product and business owners across all customer segments and regions
  • Established a research & scouting function, to deliver a pipeline of potential partnership candidates that align with business priorities
  • Developed a replicable partner assessment and due diligence approach that is now the enterprise standard across the Group
  • Curated a growing, sustainable pipeline of priority opportunities and proof-of-concepts, evolving Elixirr’s fit-for-purpose Design Thinking and Collaborative Solutioning approaches to rapidly test product-market fit and demonstrate business value
  • Streamlined a partnership contracting and onboarding system to enable the seamless collaboration with and integration of new partners
  • Established a cross-functional Partnerships Execution capability and enabling processes, supporting rapid execution on opportunities

The value delivered

Within a 3-month period, the Digital Partnerships capability was launched, establishing an effective model to sustainably source innovative opportunities and drive partnership execution, delivering on the core project objective. This future-fit capability delivers significant value to the wider Absa Group, namely partnership execution, market insight, strategy support, and process enhancements.

Since the project began, we have supported Absa in building up a targeted pipeline of opportunities for execution, ranging from must-haves to disruptive initiatives that work to distinguish Absa from others in the market. Alongside this, Absa have successfully established a network of high-quality, relevant venture capital partners, accelerators, and industry associations across Africa, the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, to deliver a pipeline of potential partnership candidates who are clearly aligned to their strategic priorities. This will enhance Absa’s objective of strengthening customer acquisition, new business model innovation and growth.

Absa has now successfully realised their vision, establishing a digital partnerships ecosystem comprised of over 500 adjacent organisations. These could all potentially evolve into new platform propositions and joint ventures bringing the firm closer to the world’s most innovative, forward-thinking startups. These organisations have been run through the stage-gated partnership assessment and prioritisation framework which streamlines the process, of partnership contracting and onboarding from months to weeks, enabling Absa to continue to expand their ecosystem and drive future partnerships at pace.

We continue to work closely with Absa, using the Digital Partnerships capability to help accelerate partnerships that have already gone into production as well as any in the future. With this capability embedded, the time to value for Absa is accelerated enabling the platform to continuously embed innovation into their business operations and disrupt the market with new, future-focused propositions.

Want to hear more about the journey? Watch below.

Are you interested in exploring how you could benefit from a partnerships ecosystem? Or just want to hear more about how we can help your firm with sourcing? Get in touch with our team.