Enterprise Supplier Development Lead
"ESD supports growth & transformation imperatives, which Accenture is fully committed to. This provides an opportunity to unlock organisational value"
Conceived and developed by Zandile Njamela, Accenture’s Enterprise Supplier Development programme (ESD) has become a point of pride in the organisation, providing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with business development support, mentorship and access to the market, while helping them achieve economic empowerment and contribute to job creation.
In her own words, Zandile tells us about the rapid growth of the program and how it fits into the global Accenture picture.
I’ve always believed that SMEs are well positioned to increase job opportunities in South Africa, and that we should recognise the vital role that these SMEs can play in economic growth and actively develop initiatives to help ensure their sustainable growth.
Our Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme is a reflection of our overall commitment to driving inclusion and diversity, both within Accenture and throughout the fabric of our communities. By helping grow these small businesses, we are enabling Accenture, our clients and our local economies to benefit from the innovative contributions they provide. With the changing of the BBBEE codes in 2014, I saw that Accenture in South Africa was potentially exposed, and that a formalised programme like the ESDP would address the requirement to help develop entrepreneurs.
I approached our Head of Procurement, Linda Basson, and shared my thoughts. She liked the idea so next I went to William Mzimba, our CEO, who gave me carte blanche to start the programme.
To start, Accenture initiated an ESDP pilot with seven participants, six Accenture suppliers and 1 SME outside our supply chain. We ran a pilot in 2015 which was a great success—four out of the five suppliers involved are now Accenture’s top contracting companies and we have helped them diversify and establish themselves as credible businesses in the market.
We recognized from the pilot, however, that we didn’t successfully integrate the one entrepreneur who was not already a supplier of Accenture. So, in the next intake we focused on taking small businesses that were not already Accenture suppliers with the aim of bringing them to the point where they would be able to transact with big corporates like Accenture.
In March 2016, Accenture SA formally launched its own 24-month country-specific ESDP and applied the approaches used in the company’s Global Diverse Supplier Development Programmes (DSDPs) in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Having had been an entrepreneur also gave me the real-life view into the world of entrepreneurship, its needs and challenges and enabled me to design and develop a programme that really puts the entrepreneur first. I ensured that the program is characterised by the inclusion of multiple elements considered essential to the successful development of SMEs in the South African economic landscape.
We recruit potential beneficiaries based on Accenture’s business skill needs and pipeline prospects which have SME partnership opportunities.
Once successfully inducted into the program, beneficiaries are paired with a mentor. The mentor is a Senior Executive at Accenture who is passionate about entrepreneurship and making a difference in the economy.
We try to align the mentor and the mentee in the same line of delivery so that they share a common language
In supporting the SMEs, we start with a business assessment to unpack the gaps within their business. We then draw a two-year development plan, highlighting five priority focus areas. The plan serves as a guide on the type of development support each beneficiary will require during their tenure in the programme. To this end, we are proud that the programme is not a one size fits all approach but is rather specific to each individual entrepreneur.
Aside from checking any BEE boxes, I believe the programme is a good investment for Accenture as the more diversified our supply chain, the more innovative we are. We are tapping into fresher, more agile suppliers who are able to adjust to the company’s needs faster. Having multiple suppliers on a contract increases competition, which brings competitive pricing. Also, the more your supplier represents the market /community you are serving, the more likely your solution will be a good fit.
For Accenture, this programme is providing a competitive advantage in a context where SME integration is now a requirement, by creating a ready pool of SMEs that have been credit-checked, vetted, aligned with the organisation and are able to deliver what they say they are going to deliver.
To ensure the success of this initiative going forward, we need to increase the visibility of the programme within the organisation, to increase the opportunities we can offer the SMEs.
A big challenge we’ve faced is supply-chain integration, with client leads concerned about working with SMEs over fears around reputation and delivery. To allay these fears, we aim to keep communicating with the rest of the business, reminding them of the commitment they have made to this initiative and use the ESD programme and our Executive Mentors to cushion or mitigate the perceived risk.
The real measure of our success is whether we achieve the end goal, which is giving suppliers access to market.
We’ve won an economic empowerment award for this programme, but I think the real measure of our success is whether we achieve the end goal, which is giving suppliers access to market. We expose them to clients and opportunities they would not have had access to any other way.”
Taking it to market
Accenture’s ESD offering extends across the entire life cycle of ESD, from defining strategy and agendas through to helping clients with ESD delivery and impact monitoring. Accenture will continue to refine its ESDP, putting what it learns at home and in the delivery of ESD programmes for its clients to good use.
ESD supports South Africa’s growth and transformation imperatives—something Accenture is fully committed to—but it is also an opportunity to unlock organisational value. Our ESD approach can help organisations improve their economic impact as well as get a higher return on their ESD spend.
About the Enterprise and Supplier Development programme
The ESD programme aims to increase the participation of black-owned SMEs. The programme provides guidance in business development, implementation of growth opportunities and creating long term value for businesses. To learn about the enterprise supplier development programme (ESD) and to meet other beneficiaries of the programme, read more.