Request for proposals: TRAINING TO ENHANCE CAPACITY AND BUSINESS SKILLS OF AGRA CONSORTIA MARKETS SUPPORT IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS

Country: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Assignment title: TRAINING TO ENHANCE CAPACITY AND BUSINESS SKILLS OF AGRA CONSORTIA MARKETS SUPPORT IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS

  1. Background and context

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is an African-led and Africa-based organization with a vision to catalyze and sustain agricultural transformation in Africa, “through productivity & incomes increases and access to markets and finance that improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers”. AGRA is implementing a 5-year strategy focused on putting 30 million smallholder farmers (SHFs) in Africa, at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming their engagement, perception and behavioral lenses for rural agriculture from a solitary struggle to survive, into thriving models of farming enterprises. AGRA strategy embarks on a pathway to attain and sustain an agricultural transformation that can benefit households with a set of targeted, catalytic downstream and systemic investments coupled with government engagement made through its alliance of partners. AGRA believes that Africa can attain agricultural transformation through an integrated delivery approach across an ecosystem of technical interventions and partnerships that leverage investments from private agri-businesses, NGO’s, farmer organizations, and government agencies. Additionally, AGRA has invested in efforts that strengthen farmers and agribusinesses’ resilience to shocks and stresses, women empowerment, and youth employment working across eleven (11) focus countries namely; Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Agricultural markets in Africa are undergoing rapid changes, as larger numbers of farmers adopt improved production technologies and begin to realize surplus harvest of crops that are market ready. AGRA envisions agricultural markets that are more competitive, inclusive, and resilient enabling farmers and agribusinesses to derive maximum benefit from their labor and other investments, in order to improve their incomes and stimulate growth in Africa’s rural economy.

Through its Program for Development and Innovation Division (PDI), AGRA supports the development of core agricultural systems including (1) seed, (2) fertilizer, (3) extension, (4) agro-dealership, (5) markets, (6) capacity building, (7) agricultural finance, and (8) resilience in its target countries. AGRA’s approach to building these systems uses the output market as a pull mechanism that provides incentives and guide production decisions. AGRA’s approach to developing output markets is based on three pillars of intervention:

  1. Create conducive environment for national and regional agricultural trade
    • Trade enabling policies
    • Evidence-based government decisions
    • Stakeholders’ coalition with shared priorities
  2. Foster competitive, resilient, and inclusive agricultural markets and value chains
    • Value chain linkages
    • Cross border trade
    • Structured trade
  3. Enhance support service markets
    • Service providers/trade facilitation
    • Post-harvest technology supply chains
    • Market Information System/Digital trading platform

The market-led systems development approach is delivered downstream to farmers through implementing partners who act as facilitators and transaction advisors. As a result functioning output markets drive-up productivity, boost resilience, and strengthen public and private sector capacity to achieve the scale required to transform the continent’s agricultural sector.

2. Problem statement
AGRA has adopted a consortium model for the downstream delivery. Ideally, consortia consist of private sector companies that are involved in buying and selling transactions for agricultural goods and services. Non-profit organizations and governments are supposed to ensure that the prevailing policy environment is conducive for private sector investments. The market for supporting goods and services such as post-harvest handling technologies, business development services, and financial services must also be developed to enable effective and efficient movement of agricultural products from producers to traders, processors and consumers.

However, the majority of AGRA’s downstream delivery partners are non-profit organizations with limited experience in facilitating the development of private sector and business relationships that foster inclusive supply chains.

The upskilling shall be done through a targeted training, based on a tailored curriculum to ensure that grantees/ implementing partners, at the end of the course are able to understand, identify, engage and deliver efficiently, reasonably and competitively on market opportunities within the consortia. As previously stated, most of the implementing partners working in the AGRA supported consortia are from the development industry and not necessarily private sector market actors. Below are the main gaps identified in the 11 AGRA focus countries:

i) Low understanding of the consortia model;
ii) Minimal leverage of relationships and synergies among primary market actors and providers of supporting goods and services;
iii) Lack or limited understanding of pertinent dynamics of agricultural markets (local, national & regional opportunities);
• low capacity on how to engage the private sector market actors and build business cases as a pull for off-taking from the farmers
• limited capacity to engage at higher level and in big numbers both with local governments, private sector.
iv) Limited skills for identifying, engaging and optimizing existing opportunities mainly in input-output chains, agro-inputs distribution and pre and post-harvest management;
v) Lack or limited internal sustainability models for promoting reliable production, supply and response to market requirements (quality, quantity, reliability)
vi) Limited and ineffective provision of business development services (BDS) to off-takers including large, small, and medium sized enterprises; especially in the area of inclusive supply chain management.

In view of the above, AGRA is seeking for an eligible consulting firm with extensive experience in building the capacity of agricultural SMEs, training of trainers in the area of agricultural SME business development and agricultural supply chain management. The qualified firm shall develop a tailored curriculum for master trainers (ToT), to address capacity limitations of organizations that are tasked to facilitate the development of agricultural output markets Trainees will include participants drawn from different AGRA target countries including those from English, French and Portuguese speaking countries.

3. Objectives
The main objective of this training is to increase implementing partners’ understanding and applicability of the Market Systems Development (MSD) approach to AGRA-supported projects. This training will also provide implementing partners with tools and practical experiences in enhancing linkages and facilitating transactions between producers and private sector operators. The practicum will focus on real cases and will include mentorship and coaching sessions during which implementing partners will work under the supervision of the trainer to facilitate market linkages.

4. Scope of work
This training will target at least 70 people from 11 AGRA-target countries. Training sessions will be held in three locations including 1 in West Africa, 1 in Southern Africa and 1 in East Africa.

The scope shall include:
• Training session on agricultural market systems development;
• Training on agribusiness principles for SME investments;
• Training session on supply chain management;
• Development of curriculum promoting better understanding of linkages around aggregation, post-harvest handling, off-taking & processing;
• Mentoring session on operations, financial management & tracking metrics for business growth;
• Mentoring session on building trust relationships across the value chain;
• Training insights on:
o credit worthiness and access to finance
o basic records management & business book-keeping

The proposed training structure
AGRA recommends a systems development approach rather than a one-off interventional learning. The approach is a training of trainers (ToT). The consultancy firm in close collaboration with AGRA will ensure that training material, capacity and knowledge products can be accessed by AGRA on longer term, but more importantly, that AGRA program officers are inherently involved in the rollout of the training to be carried out in two phases.
4.1 Consortia Program Officers (POs training)- Phase 1
AGRA program officers to attend/participate to ensure alignment going forward. The consultancy firm is expected to work with AGRA POs to document specific interests within the consortia respective to countries. The objective of the preliminary phase is to:
• Enable POs to reflect and improve mode of addressing improvements (who, what, where, when & how)
• Enable POs to reflect best ways for addressing gaps and cascade knowledge, advisory & information to implementing partners

4.2 Consortia Implementing Partners training- Phase 2
This phase brings together implementing partners and a few selected private-sector actors. The objective for training this group is to set up a platform for ensuring a common understanding of what a market-led consortia looks like, the importance of coordination & synergies of roles. The consultancy firm will develop a training program that is interactive and participatory to prompt ownership of learning.

4.3 Proposed Format
• Facilitated material: Training manual developed or adapted
• Case studies as learning material for understanding the market systems, processes and using those examples to understand the system (interactive and direct learning)
• Field visits interactions: to enhance participants capacity to learn how to “listen & look out” for opportunities

5. Expected Deliverables
Applicants must submit a brief (no more than 10 pages) proposal for this work, which outlines the proposed technical methodology and plan of work, clarifies any similar activities previously conducted and proposed budget for the assignment.

The consultancy firm will be required to:
i) propose a concept of the training approach and delivery
ii) develop a suitable training curriculum for the training of master trainers (Phase 1 & Phase 2)
iii) report on the competency gaps coming out of the post- training
iv) provide recommendations for strengthening capacity gaps for POs and Implementing Partners

The table below provides the expected delivery of outputs by the consultancy:

    Required Completion Date:
An inception report:         7 days after commencement of assignment/signing of contract that: Provides a concept for the training describing approach, delivery and work-plan
Draft Training Report Phase 1 Draft Consolidated Training Report Phase 1 & 2 7 days after completion of  1 week phase 1 trainings 7 days after completion of 1 week phase 2 trainings  
Conduct a validation presentation to AGRA 7 days after submission and review of draft consolidated report by AGRA
Final Report 7 days after validation workshop

6. Qualifications of Key Experts

The successful consultancy shall be comprised of team of experts with experience in agricultural economics and agribusiness. The team leader is expected to have a deep understanding and experience on input-output markets & supply chains.

Qualifications and experience of the lead and team members include:

  1. PhD or MSc Agricultural Sciences, Social Sciences, Economics or related field and at least 10 years of relevant experience for the team leader.
  2. The proposed team will offer solid background and experience in agricultural development in Africa including in the output markets (food/feed) sector, the entire smallholder farmers participation in staple foods output markets in Africa;
    • Technical knowledge and experience in leading field project teams on (capacity training, field logistics, human relations, teamwork);
    • Experience in managing or supporting private sector food business in Africa.
    • Demonstrable analytical skills for agricultural commodity issues and formulating concrete recommendations to a wide range of stakeholders;
    • Past related experience in agricultural systems, value chains, output markets and trade regulatory systems in sub-Saharan Africa; and
    • Excellent English communication skills (written and oral)

Each submitted proposal will describe the size, qualifications and experience of team members and how this aligns with the advertised assignment.

7. Duration of Assignment and Contract Administration
This consultancy will be undertaken within a maximum period of 45 working days from the date of signing the contract. The consultancy shall terminate by November 30, 2019.

8. Evaluation Criteria:
Technical proposals will be evaluated against the following criteria:
i) Profile and Expertise of the Team Lead (CV)
ii) Combined expertise of the proposed project team
iii) Consultants understanding of the consultancy requirements
iv) The proposed methodology and project implementation/delivery plan (key)
v) Detailed reference list indicating the scope and magnitude of similar assignments. Each reference to clearly indicate client, contact person – their designation, email address and mobile phone, summary of assignment, cost and when it was carried out.
vi) Relevant services undertaken in the past 3-5 years

No. Description Max. Score
1. Specific Team Experience of the Consultant Firm relevant to the Assignment 25
2. Adequacy and quality of the proposed methodology, and work plan in responding to the Terms of Reference (TORs):       
Technical approach and methodology  25
Work plan 10
Organization and staffing 10
3. Key Experts’ qualifications and competence for the Assignment:  
  Team LeaderPhD or MSc Agricultural Sciences, Social Sciences, Economics or a related field; At least 10 years experience in agricultural development in Africa in output markets (food/feed) sector, food crop value chain;Excellent understanding of regional trade, policies & opportunities for farmers-SMEs- Large Buyers;Evidence good understanding of entire smallholder farmers participation in staple foods output markets in Africa;Evidence of leading 2-3 similar upskilling assignments in Africa added advantage where mentorship and coaching is show-cased.   20
  Key expert 1: MSc Agricultural Sciences, Social Sciences, Economics or related field and at least 5 years of relevant experience;5 years’ experience in agricultural development in Africa in output markets (food/feed) sector, food crop value chain;Trainer experience on farmer centered business approaches;Local knowledge/experience an added advantage 10
  Sub-total technical score  
TOTAL 100

Only technical proposals with a score of 75% and above shall qualify for opening of the financial proposals
• Overall, the technical proposal shall be scored out of 70% while the financial proposal shall be scored out of 30%

9. Proposal submission guidelines
i) The financial proposal should indicate a detailed budget in US Dollars and ALL applicable taxes. It must also be password protected. The password will be sought from those who will qualify after the technical evaluation.
ii) The subject of the email submission MUST read “TRAINING TO ENHANCE CAPACITY AND BUSINESS SKILLS OF AGRA CONSORTIA MARKETS SUPPORT IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS”
iii) Technical and financial proposals MUST be submitted as separate documents by Monday August 5th, 2019 at 1000 Hours East Africa Time (GMT +3) to procurement@agra.org

Disclaimer: AGRA reserves the right to determine the structure of the process, the number of short-listed participants, the right to withdraw from the proposal process, and the right to change this timetable at any time without notice.

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