Intrapreneurship series tells narratives of large companies that engage in independent social activism by building projects that contribute to local communities. These projects are driven by intrapreneurs who, by adapting entrepreneurial and start-up strategies, add to their companies’ coefficient of innovation. By reinforcing the value of social intrapreneurs, we hope to encourage more companies to engage in employee-driven creative ideation, galvanising intrapreneurs with potential into positive action. Learn more about SEV’s original social intrapreneurship builder.
Putting the global capabilities of Accenture to good use
by Joanne Willemin & Yusuf Jaffar
Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP) is a division of Accenture, a global leader in consulting solutions. While Accenture does business by charging big clients high fees for its services, ADP provides low-cost services to non-profits and other independent developmental organisations. The latter gain access to Accenture’s people, knowledge database, methodologies and frameworks to find innovative ways to address challenges in the areas of healthcare, education and financial exclusion.
ADP sends small teams of Accenture consultants to work on the ground with small developmental organisations on 3-6 month projects. These projects centre around elaborate operational improvements such as growth strategy, market expansion, business planning, supply chain efficiency, cross-sector partnership strategy and implementation, fundraising, and revenue diversification. Improved sustainability and larger impact are common outcomes of ADP’s work with non-profits.
The idea of a leading service company such as Accenture working with non-profit organisations came from the initiative of a former employee Gib Bulloch and his team. After spending a year on a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), Gib realised that non-profits needed to work with businesses to gain operational efficiency and to scale up. He also knew that impact could be much greater if individual efforts were supported by corporate resources. ADP as a scheme piloted in 2002 and became a formal division under Accenture the following year. What Gib did represents the essence of an intrapreneur: someone that went beyond the confines of his job by taking the lead on an original project and assimilating it into the company to compound impact.
Innovation to emulate
The biggest challenge for ADP was to find ways to make clients benefit from the skills and expertise of Accenture without turning contracts into long-term grants by the group. The aim of ADP has always been to be cost-neutral in order to be sustainable in the long run for the company. Therefore, ADP has adopted a sustainable business model in order to motivate all parties to be involved to the level of their ability:
- Accenture supports the division and allows ADP to charge below the standard rate;
- The clients agree to pay for ADP’s services despite their low-income;
- The employees voluntary accept a salary reduction for the time they work with ADP.
Furthermore, one other objective of the company is to make the work of ADP teams replicable. Putting the resources and records of previous projects at company’s disposition allows individuals to maximise impact while minimising labour.
Impact to date
In 2015, ADP completed its 1000th project in 12 years of existence. Notable among their current projects are these few:
- A long standing relationship with Amref Health Africa, a non-profit committed to improving the health of people in Africa. ADP has helped Amref develop eLearning projects as well as its mobile training platform.
- In collaboration with Accenture Digital, ADP has built a platform to enhance digital marketing and growth performance of World Vision Canada, an organisation dedicated to overcoming poverty and social injustice.
- ADP has been providing continuous support to Oxfam through design, development and adoption of its 2020 strategic vision and framework.
- In collaboration with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ADP has completed a study showing the necessity for refugees to have access to mobile phones and internet.
ADP has also had a positive impact on the company employees. Internal surveys show that employees who took part in one or more ADP programmes are more likely to exhibit a higher degree of work engagement. Most appreciate their experiences with ADP as occasions to grow, learn and take on more responsibility. This responds to an increasing demand of employees to have more meaning in their work and to feel supported by their companies in this pursuit.
Finally, ADP’s business model has come to be often used as a model for corporate best practice in social innovation, which has earned Accenture much praise and a number of awards. The activity of ADP has contributed to improving the brand image of the group and has inspired other companies to follow in Accenture’s path and encouraged more white-collar workers to take risk to develop socially oriented internal projects.