JOHANNESBURG; July 27, 2021 – Nineteen SME’s graduated from the Accenture (NYSE:ACN) Enterprise Supplier Development Programme (ESDP) today. As ESDP alumni they will continue to benefit from their inclusion into the Accenture supply chain and that of other large corporates. This graduation heralds the third entrepreneur intake since the pilot in 2015. The programme has developed into a highly respected programme, attracting greater interest from more SME registrants year-on-year.

The class of 2021 graduated via a virtual ceremony with numerous accolades including a Henley accredited Business Management qualification, as part of the Leaders’ Learn training. This was not only for the 19 business owners but we extended the training to their management teams. This was extended to allow a total of 36 candidates to participate in the course, states Zandile Njamela, Accenture Global SI&S – ESDP Lead.

This group of graduates kicked off in April 2019 on the Accenture ESDP. They are the first group to have been trained through the Accenture and Henley Business School programme partnership. “We co-created the course through a design thinking session with past and current ESDP SMEs, the Accenture Learning team and Henley faculty to ensure we deliver a meaningful learning experience for the business owners and their staff. The course touched on business management techniques, leading a business through 4IR and personal mastery as a business leader,” states Njamela.

I must commend this group of SME participants in particular for soldiering on during a very rough patch of the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire final year of the programme was right in the middle of the pandemic, and yet they persevered through it, she adds.

Format of the programme

Accenture’s ESD programme helps SMEs deliver products and services better. It is a business imperative for Accenture, to contribute wider to the business context that they operate in. “It is not mere compliance, but rather an extension of the business where we enable and empower the next generation of business people to come up through the ranks and to add value to the industry,” says Njamela.

“The same support we give to a Fortune 500 company, is the same we give to each of our SME participants. We provide the same extension support services that we provide to our clients, that the SME would ordinarily not be able to afford.”

SMEs this year were supported more intentionally through Accenture Technology with websites, apps and platform development. They participated in business canvas workshops, and lean start-up methodologies, to support the whole journey from analysing their business case, designing, to developing the actual solution to MVP stage, testing it and then deploying it. They were afforded the opportunity to work with Accenture Interactive to develop a go to market strategy to launch the apps. A mentor in the same line of delivery guided the entrepreneurs through the process, so that they can gain first-hand experience and visibility.

Enterprise and supplier development programme

Graduates of the programme become part of the alumni network, where they start interacting with other SMEs globally, that have graduated from the DSDP – diverse supplier development programme. Celebrating 15 years of existence, the DSDP started in the US in 2006, with aims of developing a global supplier inclusion agenda. So far the programme has extended into Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, and India. Future locations in the pipeline are Australia, Germany, and Switzerland,” states Njamela.

As an open global organisation, we are conscious that we need to consider suppliers from the local community, but also understand that these suppliers might not be ready. Therefore the 24 month programme aims to enable their growth so they can become procurement ready to big businesses. We are building a next generation of businesses that also harness the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, within their local marketplace, but also globally,” she says.

Why take part

“The graduation becomes the trigger point or an impetus for a longer relationship, either to succeed as a business on their own, or to succeed as a potential business partner. We use our own people, our own resources, our own technology, our own IP to support these SMEs. The legacy we leave is that we are stronger together,” she says.

“We are very proud of the class of 2021 and look forward to helping more SMEs grow in the future,” she concludes.

About the Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme (ESDP)

In response to both global and local calls for more inclusion and diversity in the market, Accenture’s Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme applies global best-practice principles to scale and sustain the entrepreneurs and small business suppliers with whom we partner. The aim is to increase the participation of black-owned SMEs within both our own supply chain and in the wider economy. We are realising this aim through our innovative Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme.

For more information, please visit the ESDP website.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations services — all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 569,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities. Visit us at


Jonathan Mahapa
+27 11 208 3947

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