Accenture is providing US$1.6 million to the University of Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development (NDIGD) to expand the Connectivity, Electricity and Education for Entrepreneurship (CE3) project – a joint initiative developed by Accenture and the university to increase the livelihoods of individuals living in rural Africa.
Accenture’s commitment, which includes both cash and pro-bono services, will help expand the project in Uganda and launch it in South Africa, enabling more than 2,400 individuals to find a job or start a business.
The project harnesses solar energy to deliver clean, efficient, renewable power and Wi-Fi connectivity to off-grid communities in Africa, significantly improving access to technology, job-skills training and mentoring. The project also supports on-the-ground nonprofits that train and mentor entrepreneurs to replicate solar power in neighboring villages.
For example, David Akena lives in a remote village in Uganda that experienced limited access to electricity. As a result, his electronics repair shop and music business suffered, operating only one-to-two hours each day, using a diesel generator. Through the CE3 project, David gained access to solar power and entrepreneurial skills training, enabling him to expand his hours and operate his business more efficiently. He has since increased his annual income sixfold and launched two new businesses, creating new jobs in his community.
“When job seekers and entrepreneurs in these rural communities lack access to electricity and Internet connectivity, they become disconnected. They also face severe barriers to skills training and job opportunity,” said Jill Huntley, managing director of Global Corporate Citizenship at Accenture. “Our work with the University of Notre Dame is helping to provide innovative and sustainable solutions that improve the livelihoods for people in these communities and drive long-term economic development.”
The contribution is a part of Accenture’s corporate citizenship initiative, Skills to Succeed, which is equipping more than 3 million people around the world with the skills to get a job or build a business. In 2012, Accenture and NDIGD introduced the CE3 project as a pilot program in rural northern Uganda, resulting in 40 new business start-ups and more than 130 new jobs.
“Creating and strengthening global partnerships with the private sector to improve lives and support human development is a priority of the new Keough School of Global Affairs,» said R. Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough dean of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs. “Accenture’s partnership with NDIGD is truly a model for excellence and global impact.”
As a part of the project, Accenture is providing pro-bono consulting services to help NDIGD scale the CE3 energy model, enabling the project to be independently replicated in rural communities across Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, Accenture volunteers are continuing to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs on how to develop, launch and grow successful businesses.