Though their work is thousands of miles away, the relationship between Tetra Tech and SSG Advisors, a woman-owned small business, is very much a local story. Tetra Tech’s largest international development home office is within two miles of SSG in Burlington, Vermont. The companies have built strong professional relations through personal interactions from that proximity, support other local companies, and together are delivering critical services primarily to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The two firms have generated millions of dollars in signed contracts since 2010.
“[Tetra Tech] was our first partner when we started in 2005,” says Nazgul Abdrazakova, President of SSG Advisors. “And, as the prime contractor, they delivered [the work] as promised.”
That work involves SSG’s specialty: public-private partnerships (PPPs). These PPPs bring together public sector donors, such as USAID, with private companies, such as Microsoft and Barrick Gold, to collaborate on shared challenges in developing countries.
In 2015 Tetra Tech entered into a mentor-protégé (M-P) agreement with SSG. As a mentor, Tetra Tech worked closely with SSG to prepare a USAID-approved M-P work plan with specific objectives, goals, and deliverables. “Our Mentor Protégé agreement with Tetra Tech has had significant benefits to our overall business development during the last year,” said Steve Schmida, SSG’s managing director. “Our firm revenue grew by more than 100 percent from 2014 to 2015 and Tetra Tech played a significant role in that growth, both as a prime contracting partner and also in providing support and advice to our team on a wide range of business development topics.”
The successful relationship with SSG is an example of Tetra Tech’s commitment to helping small businesses become more successful while also providing added value to our customers. Tetra Tech has found that SSG Advisors’ capabilities fulfill a unique niche. “SSG connects with public and private sector companies for technical assistance and with social media to publicize the partnerships,” says Paula Goddard of Tetra Tech’s International Development Services practice. “They know the rules [in developing countries], how to make PPPs work, and train staff. Tetra Tech brings everything else: natural resources management, rule of law and governance assistance, engineering, and social science.”
The two companies have collaborated on the USAID ECOFISH project in the Philippines, where Tetra Tech brought deep expertise in natural resource management and SSG Advisors built partnerships with private companies in the seafood, eco-tourism, technology, mining and oil and gas, and financial services industries. Through this project, SSG was the recipient of the prestigious P3 Impact Award, given at the 2015 Concordia Summit. In East Africa, the two companies have worked together on the USAID Policy Adaptation, Research and Economic Development Project, which assists governments, civil society, and industry to meet the challenges of climate change, biodiversity, and access to water.
When Tetra Tech leads a pursuit effort, SSG enhances the proposal because it is small and innovative. When SSG leads, Tetra Tech’s breadth and depth of expertise is an invaluable resource. “This relationship benefits both,” Ms. Goddard says.
“Because of our relationship, we deliver more value to the customer,” Ms. Abdrazakova asserts. “Even if another company may be better positioned, we prefer to go with Tetra Tech. Mutual trust and relationship strength can trump other factors in winning opportunities.”