Louise James: Accenture’s chief strategist on business-NGO partnerships

By Eliza Villarino 12 October 2011

Louise James, head of development partnerships at Accenture. Photo by: personal collection

Louise James knows very well how to strike partnerships between the private and nonprofit sectors. At Accenture, she has managed and grown the group’s nonprofit client portfolio. She is now exploring a new approach to cross-sector collaborations, which will align business opportunities with positive development impact.

James is one of today’s most influential development leaders under 40 in London. She and her peers have inspired change that transcends borders.

Devex is recognizing 40 of these young London-based trailblazers in international development. They are social entrepreneurs, government leaders, development consultants, business innovators, advocates, development researchers, nonprofit executives, philanthropists and investors.

We asked James about her leadership and vision for development cooperation in the years to come. Here’s what she said:

What do you see as your main accomplishment as leader of Accenture’s NGO practice?

I see my main accomplishment as driving cross sector partnerships between the private sector and NGO’s and leading our group to look for new and innovative partnering opportunities. When these potential partnerships come across stumbling blocks organizations such as ourselves are the glue in the middle that help to overcome these challenges and help drive it forward. It is very rewarding to see these partnerships develop and the resulting impact that they have on the communities that our clients work with.

How do you convince nonprofits to partner with business to tackle global challenges?

Interests are converging and nonprofits need to look at how they can partner with business to use their extensive skills and knowledge to influence the way the private sector operates. Each sector needs to focus on its value add and its differentiated position. I am realistic, having worked on these partnerships I know it is not easy, but the overall message is that business done the right way has a huge role to play in tackling global development challenges.

What innovative types of cross-sector partnerships are you hoping to push more in the coming years?

In the coming years I am looking to push more of a development “eco system” where there may be a wide range of potential partners all focused on one end impact. The partnership will be an alignment of business opportunity with positive social, economic and environmental impacts on development. These should be sustainable and scalable. Achieving this is always a challenge, but if the business opportunity is there, then this should be attainable.

Read more about the Devex 40 Under 40 International Development Leaders in London.

About the author

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Eliza Villarino

Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.


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