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Project Concepts and Business Cases

Future Partners prepares project concepts and business cases for organisations that have good ideas to address local problems and improve people’s lives, and want to pitch those ideas to a donor. We are trained and experienced in using the New Zealand Government Better Business Case methodology, if your organisation uses this.

Kirsty Burnett and Beia Tim from UNICEF with hand pump, Abaiang, Kiribati, 2019

A project concept is a document that outlines the idea for a project. It explains where and why the project is needed, who will be involved and benefit from the project, what changes will happen as a result of the project, how the project is coordinated with other initiatives, how much the project will cost and what risks may be involved.

When an organisation’s project concept paper has been approved, it needs to design the project so it can be implemented. We also provide a project design service that can build on our work together during the project concept stage.


As part of a wider national tourism strategy, we sought Kirsty’s help in preparing a business case to obtain donor funding for a hotel expansion that would provide significant social and economic development benefits. The business case required navigating a complex set of relationships and mixed objectives. In addition to needing to be a sound commercial proposition, the business case needed to incorporate Niuean views and cultural values as well as demonstrate it would contribute to the donor’s long term development objectives.

We have worked with Kirsty Burnett on various projects over the past twelve years and we know that Kirsty has the experience, relationship skills and pragmatic approach to successfully engage with a wide range of stakeholders as well as bring the necessary commercial nous to develop and present a viable business case that received the necessary donor funding.

Ian Fitzgerald Chair, Matavai Niue Limited

Our project concept service involves:

  • pinpointing the problem that the project will address

  • identifying who has a stake in the problem, what they need from the project and what they will contribute to it (stakeholder analysis)

  • analysing the context of the problem and project (we use PESTLE — political, economic, sociological, technological, legal, and environmental analysis)

  • assessing the demand for change and improvement (such as better sanitation, a more relevant school curriculum, or better access to markets for local produce)

  • reviewing relevant other initiatives to understand and learn from these experiences

  • identifying how women, youth, the elderly, people living with disabilities, and different ethnic groups will be involved in and benefit from the project

  • identifying outcomes that stakeholders want the project to achieve, and agreeing on priorities that are realistic given the time and money available

Consultation with project stakeholders helps to identify the ‘crux of the matter’—what do people and organisations care about and want to be changed, and why. We use stakeholder analysis to:

  • define the results and benefits that people want, and what they will look like

  • understand and agree on ‘what stakeholders will need to be doing differently or change’ by the end of the project

  • determine how we will measure the changes that people want to see

  • understand what will contribute to change and what the barriers to change might be

  • build stakeholder ‘buy in’ and commitment to the project.

When we conduct a stakeholder analysis, we assemble a team that includes a project design expert, a MERL expert, one or more of our subject-matter experts and an in-country consultant who knows the local context, stakeholders and issues.

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