From October 31st to 2nd November 2016, the regular bi-annual Reall Stakeholders’ Group (RSG) meeting was held in the U.K., at a very relaxing and peaceful conference venue on the outskirts of Leamington Spa town, not very far from the Reall offices in Coventry. In this meeting, LinkBuild was represented by its Board President, Marlon Palomo; its Executive Director, May Domingo Price; and its Senior Finance Officer, Grace Go.
The three-day meeting consisted of very lively learning sessions, designed specifically for the HDE (Housing Development Enterprise) partners of Reall. The sessions tackled various aspects of organisational development, amidst a broader backdrop of the concept and elements of investment-readiness, and the various stages HDE partners are at, in this journey.
The first session was a presentation of Reall’s vision of creating a “Reall Global Network” of HDEs that have access to investment and are able to deliver housing for low-income groups in a financially viable manner. The value of having a global network was emphasised and initial ideas on the network’s values and principles, approach and 5 year-strategy were also shared and discussed with the HDEs, with an intention to seek the latter’s preliminary commitment to being part of the formal network.
The following session focused on governance and the importance of good governance for both Reall and its HDE partners. This dynamic session made HDE partners reflect on the current status of their organisation’s governance, while a number of HDEs were asked to share their experiences as well. The session focused on effective corporate governance as being at the core of the success of any organisation. It also highlighted key governance principles that should be upheld by HDE partners; and identified tools or support mechanisms that HDE partners would need to achieve an ideal standard of governance.
The second day was devoted to sessions on specific areas or elements of an HDE’s organisational development. This was started off with a presentation on Reall’s ongoing initiative of developing an HDE Development Framework, whereby HDE growth stages are being defined and competency standards are being developed at each stage of growth. This initiative hopes to be able to assess each HDEs competency areas and to develop capacity building tools in these areas, to enable HDEs to fill capacity gaps.
The session that followed focused on the importance of “business thinking”, i.e., that HDEs should apply business practices and principles to fulfil a social purpose or mission. The session drew mostly from the rich experiences and lessons shared by selected HDE partners. It didn’t fall short of reminding HDEs of the importance of business thinking, or the necessity for a mindset change or paradigm shift towards this, if an HDE is to achieve sustainability and scale.
This was followed by a session on finance, which highlighted the importance of consistency in financial management reporting across HDE partners. Reall is also working to develop a standard reporting process and system for HDE partners.
The last and concluding day of the RSG Meeting was the most learning-filled, as HDEs shared where they are at with projects and programmes, and the challenges and opportunities, they are faced with in fulfilling their social mission. In spite of the very brief time given to the twelve HDEs to share, many rich experiences and innovative ideas were eagerly exchanged and absorbed.