Increasingly, government-led development agencies work together with the private sector in partnerships for development. Based on seven Dutch-Colombian partnership cases, with Colombian private sector involvement, this research investigated how these partnerships work in practice. Experience of development partnerships with the private sector in Colombia shows that partnerships represent innovative solutions for challenges that impede business activities and inclusive development. Specific steps contributing to the success of such partnership cases are often unidentified. This research highlights that mutuality – the key principle for achieving synergistic rewards from collaboration – is mainly achieved through transparency, accountability, the development of a partnership identity and the presence of a partnership champion. In the specific Colombian context of a low-trust society, confidence in other sectors is often a defining barrier for partnering. Achieving mutuality in partnerships therefore requires a strong focus on trust-building mechanisms and guidance. The government-led development agency can support the development of mutuality in partnership projects through requirements such as accountability processes and criteria. In addition, the involvement of the development agency had a catalytic function, enhancing the scope and scale of partnership projects. Partnerships are increasingly used as a tool to address development challenges in Colombia. Promising partnership cases have emerged and Colombian stakeholders have gained partnering experience which provides rich lessons for partnerships with the private sector and government-led development agency involvement. This study provides recommendations related to developing confidence in the partnership approach through (a) a more thorough focus on mutuality mechanisms in partnership designs, (b) enhanced coordination of partnership projects and programmes and (c) improved knowledge creation and sharing the reality of partnering for bringing development partnerships forward in Colombia.