MSDUK launches Supplier Diversity Project in Six European Countries

10 May 2022












A pan-European supplier diversity project launch in Amsterdam demonstrates a corporate commitment to driving the economic inclusion of ethnic minority/immigrant entrepreneurs in corporate supply chains.

Nearly 60 people gathered in Amsterdam on April 6th for the launch of MSDUK’s new European Supplier Diversity Project (ESDP). Opening the kickoff event, Mayank Shah presented the 2-year project funded by 10 corporate firms, namely, Accenture, AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, CBRE, Dow, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, EY, Johnson & Johnson, Meta and Unilever.  Now in its earliest stages of development, ESDP will be launched in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, and Sweden, and is the first-ever pan-European supplier diversity initiative.

Alexandra Tarmo, Head of Partnerships & Social Procurement, Unilever, said ‘I’m excited to partner up with MSDUK to launch the European Supplier Diversity Project (ESDP). This allows us to expand our efforts in working with ethnic minority businesses within corporate supply chains. It’s vital that we support more under-represented groups and it’s excellent to be involved in the first-ever pan-European supplier diversity initiative.’

Kickoff attendees represented a microcosm of MSDUK’s work of creating and building partnerships between EMBs and major companies: Roughly half of the participants were corporate buyers, a quarter from EMBs, and a quarter from NGOs. The sustainable value that supplier diversity brings to major corporates was exemplified by the active participation of supplier diversity leaders from Accenture, Unilever, Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Meta and others.

Mayank opened the day by recounting his 16-year journey since having founded MSDUK. He is more convinced than ever of supplier diversity’s valuable role in facilitating lasting socio-economic impact on companies, communities, and even countries from integration perspectives. When asked what he considers his biggest achievement since founding MSDUK, Mayank responded without hesitation, "Helping EMBs flourish and grow".

 Philippe Legrain, founder of Open Network, presented the case for a European network by recapping his MSDUK-commissioned report, EQUIP: Why an increasingly diverse Europe needs EQUality In Procurement for ethnic minority entrepreneurs. Philippe’s work revealed that 18% of Europe’s population is first- or second-generation foreign-born, and he shared that he has found strong buy-in by governments across Europe for the importance of immigrant entrepreneurship as a catalyst for integration. Highly relevant as ESDP is launched in six new countries, Philippe presented the EU-approved concept of companies exhibiting "positive action", which enables corporate buyers to conceivably prioritise buying from EMBs versus from traditional suppliers, if doing so is consistent with corporate strategy.


Further Programme highlights:

 •      Peter Zerp of Accenture, Alexandra Tarmo from Unilever, and Krystle Sands of Meta fielded questions from MSDUK’s Jean Chawapiwa on lessons they’ve learned about sourcing and cultivating relations with EMBs. Their histories and learnings illustrated that large companies are, in many cases, still in their learning curves and, that by engaging with EMBs, they are stimulating increased internal growth and awareness;

•      EMBs from host country Netherlands and the UK brought meaning to the critical role that ESDP will play in introducing ethnic and immigrant entrepreneurs into corporate supply chains. An abbreviated version of MSDUK’s Business Opportunity events was held at day-end, with buying companies meeting EMBs in small breakout sessions;

•      Newly appointed ESDP Country Managers from France (Majid El Jarroudi), Netherlands (Ruben Brave) and Sweden (Gary Baker) gave presentations on their respective countries, concluding with a signing ceremony between Mayank Shah (MSDUK) and Ruben Brave (Entelligence bv, Netherlands) to formalise their new ESDP partnership, in the presence of the Dutch government’s Policy Officer for Ambitious Entrepreneurship & Valorisation of the Directorate Entrepreneurship, Dr. Mediha Sahin.

•      Mr Brave is also the founder of Dutch Dutch New Narrative Lab Foundation (DNNL), an Inclusive Innovative Entrepreneurship initiative, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. DNNL was created to foster the hidden gem of diversity and inclusion in Dutch startups, scale-ups and corporate ventures. He states: “We see the formalization of the collaboration with MDSUK as one of the first major steps to an inclusive Dutch Startup Ecosystem, by entering the commercially relevant yet unexplored space between bootstrapping and VC funding startups.” 

•      Keynote speaker Nedra Dickson, Accenture’s Managing Director of Global Supply Inclusion & Sustainability, shared her story of having taken on a new procurement role in Atlanta, Georgia, only to discover that her company had few relationships with ethnic minority businesses. Overtime (and overcoming internal resistance of, "They’re too small", and "They’re too risky"), Nedra reported that for 2021, fully a third of her spending was with EMBs.

•      Saskia van Goethem, Regional Corporate Services Leader EMEAI Purchasing said “Dow is proud to collaborate with like-minded companies for the ESDP program. These steps demonstrate the Company’s commitment to expanding our supplier diversity efforts in Europe. We know the innovation and quality diverse suppliers help us deliver is essential to serving our customers.”

 •      And ESDP Sweden Lead, Gary Baker said "ESDP is unique in that, in a single market-based program, it embodies the ambitions of ethnic minority entrepreneurs, global companies, and even local and national governments."

Watch this space in the coming weeks and months to follow the growth of the new European Supplier Diversity Project as it unfolds across Europe!

For further information, email or Seemab Malik e: