Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Women, Youth, and PWD in Entrepreneurship and Leadership Program in Agriculture

RFA: Women, Youth, and PWD in Entrepreneurship and Leadership Program in Agriculture

USAID Contract No AID-696-C-14-00
  1. Program Description
Rwanda Private Sector Driven Agriculture Growth (PSDAG) is a 5-Year project funded by USAID Rwanda that started in August, 2014. The project is implemented by International Resources Group (IRG), a wholly owned subsidiary of Engility Corporation. The goal of PSDAG is to increase smallholder farmers’ incomes by promoting private sector investments that contribute to the Government of Rwanda’s (GOR’s) Vision 2020 aim of “transforming agriculture into a market-oriented, competitive, andHigh-value sector.”
The PSDAG program is developing strategic partnerships with the private sector to increase investment in agriculture and to expand economic opportunities for smallholder farmers through more competitive value chain market systems. This RFA falls within the overall objectives of the PSDAG program as outlined in the PSDAG Annual Program Statement (APS)No. IRG-APS-17-01.
PSDAG works with businesses to integrate vulnerable populations such as women, youth and Persons with Disabilities (PWD) into a growing private agribusiness sector and to increase leadership and internship opportunities for people in these groups. The PSDAG Value Chain Competitiveness Fund (VCCF) is a grant fund designed to leverage private sector investment by reducing risk in investing in innovative or new technologies or capacity building. In Year 3, PSDAG is adapting its approach based on lessons learned and soliciting request for applications under the Women and Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership ProgramRFA in order to increase partnerships under the VCCF that support women and youth.
Entrepreneurship and leadership opportunities for women and youth in agricultural investment is hindered by persistence of cultural norms and misperceptions, and lack of access to information and business opportunities.
  • Cultural practices and traditional attitudes cause some people to believe that women should not take on roles that have traditionally been occupied men. While women are highly engaged in agriculture sector as independent farmers and unpaid family labor, in most mixed cooperatives, men often occupy leadership and decision-making positions.
  • Decision making regarding household finances and investment is not equally shared between men and women. Women use money earned from household gardens and livestock to take care of the family and do not have control over money earned through commercial sales led by men.
  • Youth equally lack access to assets that would permit them to access loans or even to become valid members of cooperatives.
  • Young graduates emerge with a weak foundation of doing business or entrepreneurial skills due to limitations within the educational system. In addition, due to the lack of industry and the nascent stage of commercial agri-business in Rwanda, youth lack opportunities to apply their education and gain practical experience to prepare them for jobs and/or becoming business owners.
This RFA is designed to target investments and partners that will help to mitigate the unique challenges faced by women and youth described above.  The PSDAG Women, Youth, PWD in Entrepreneurship and Leadership Program for Agriculture seeks to facilitate inclusive agribusiness investments that promote women and youth in entrepreneurship and in leadership opportunities within businesses in agriculture.
In addition, exclusion of PWDs is particularly acute in Rwandan society. Because of their disability, they may be seen as a burden and are often not given equal opportunity to gain skills or even contribute to income-generating activities. There are also instances of misinformation causing people to think that employing PWDs is forbidden. Within the objectives of the Women and Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership Program, activities that involve the inclusion of PWD and enterprises managed by PWD are encouraged.
Finally, PSDAG is seeking to develop strategic partnerships with initiatives launched by the Capacity Development and Employment Services Board (CESB), USAID (e.g. HugukaDukore and CHAIN projects), relevant NGOs focused on social inclusion (e.g. AkaziKanoze Access, Catholic Relief Services, Women for Women International), and other international development agencies (e.g. UN Women), to identify groups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who have progressed under their programs and are ready to increase their investment through the VCCF. Applicants who have graduated or are actively participating in complementary capacity building with such partners will be given an advantage in the evaluation process.
2.    Objective of this RFA
This RFA falls within the PSDAG objectives and requirements as detailed in IRG-APS-17-01. 
The purpose of the Women, Youth, and PWD Entrepreneurship and Leadership Program is looking to co-invest in projects that either: 1) facilitate investment in women, youth and/or PWD-managed SMEs; and or (2) increase economic and leadership opportunities for women, youth, and PWD in agribusinesses. 
3.    Activities and Investments Supported
Under this RFA, PSDAG will support two types of activities:
  • activities that increase private investment in agro-SMEs, including cooperatives, and private companies, which actively promote leadership, employment and entrepreneurship of women, youth and PWDs; and
  • activities that offer off-farm income-generating opportunities for youth, women and PWDs, as part of a micro-franchise, agent or commission-based modelsin collaboration with established agribusinesses.
3.1.    Women, Youth, and PWD Managed SMEs
PSDAG seeks to support women, youth and PWD owners of or leadership within agro-SMEs who are seeking to make strategic investments in agribusiness. Such investment support may include:
  • cost share finance for assets such as processing equipment, mechanization, cold storage, dying, packaging, etc.;
  • capacity building support for the company to achieve its objectives;
  • technical assistance to assist the company with marketing, financial analysis, access to finance, and quality standards.
3.2.    Micro- franchising and Agent Models
Many established SMEs in Rwanda cannot afford full time employees and could benefit from engaging women, youth and PWDs in small scale enterprises. PSDAG is seeking proposals from businesses who are involve in buying raw materials from farmers, selling agriculture technologies, agriculture-related services and marketing to propose scalable models for providing off-farm income-generating opportunities for women and youth. Examples might include but are not limited to:
  • marketing agents who work on a commission basis to support groups supplying raw materials;
  • sales agents for agro-input supplies and services; or
  • satellite nurseries for the sale of improved seedlings.
Applicants for micro-franchising and agent models would be eligible for technical assistance to help design the program, train initial youth and women participants, and cost-share upfront investment costs. Models that engage PWD (men, women, youth and non-youth) as agents and entrepreneurs are encouraged and eligible to apply.
3.3.    Costs Not Eligible for Funding
Examples of goods and services that are NOT funded by this grant: ongoing operational expenses such as salaries, rent, and utilities (exceptions to this will be evaluated based on need); seed, pesticides, fertilizer, livestock and other agricultural commodities; land purchase or land rehabilitation; direct provision of inputs; direct provision of extension services; construction or rehabilitation of roads; any form of construction of buildings; procurement of vehicles, including motorcycles; provision of funds for on-lending; individual scholarships; pharmaceuticals; alcohol or other luxury goods; used goods of any type.
4.    Evaluation Criteria
  • Strength of business model and opportunity presented.
  • Past performance with similar activity and feasibility of planned investment.
  • Demonstrated technical knowledge and understanding in writing (the application) and in person (oral review for qualified applications) of the business opportunity and market.
  • Applicants cost-share including willingness to co-invest in new technologies and their commitment of time and in-kind costs.
  • How well the investment aligns with PSDAG objectives to increase private sector investment that is inclusive of smallholder farmers.
  • Anticipated results of the project activity relative to the size of the grant request.
  • Demonstrated commitment to and participation in a complementary program entrepreneurship or skill-building program, such as AkaziKanoze,HugukaDukore, CESB, UN Women, etc. with positive documented performance and references will be an advantage.
  • Inclusion of PWD is encouraged.
  • Innovation and use of technology is encouraged.
5.    Eligibility Requirements
  • Submit a complete application per Section 10 and Section 11 of the RFA.
  • Be a U.S. and/or Rwandan or entity that is legally registered and recognized under Rwandan law. Types of eligible entities are:
  • Private enterprises or firms;
  • Agricultural based associations and cooperatives;
  • NGOs (non-profit);
  • Foundations, research institutes and universities; and
  • Legally-organized associations/syndications of the above organizations
  • Investment contributes to PSDAG objectives as detailed in Section 2.
  • Demonstrate willingness to contribute a minimum of 50% cost-share in new project investment. When calculating the minimum 50% contribution, in-kind contributions will be considered; a minimum of 25% contribution must be cash investment from the grantee or through a financial institution. For example, a project with a total cost of $2,000: a minimum of $500 (25%) must be contributed in cash and $500 (25%) can be contributed in-kind for a grant of $1,000.
  • Youth are eligible between the ages of 18 and 30 years of age.
  • PWD is defined as any individual without congenital abilities like those of others or one who was deprived of such abilities due to disease, accident, conflict or any other reasons which may cause disability.
Note that under this RFA PSDAG is not soliciting applications from consulting companies or NGO’s that work with entrepreneurs. The intention of this RFA is to co-invest in technology upgrades and technical assistance, ultimately awarding a grant to a business or a cooperative that is a ‘for profit’ entity proposing a sustainable business as it relates to generating revenues in agriculture, not a consulting company or NGO providing development services that proposed to identify and manage beneficiaries on behalf of PSDAG.PSDAG will partner with companies and NGOs where they currently have funding to implement programs that build the capacity of women, youth, and PWD entrepreneurs. Grants under the VCCF can complement but will not directly fund such technical assistance programs. If it is necessary to procure services to build the capacity of grantees, PSDAG will issue a separate Request for Proposal.
6.    Expected results & competition
Prospective grantees are expected to track some of the following results as indication of performance of grant activities. The nature and extent of the monitoring will be: i) determined by the type of project/investment; and ii) negotiated prior to approval and/or disbursement of grant but may include any or all of the following:
  • Value of gross farm incomes of assisted farmers.
  • Value of new private sector investment in the agriculture sector or food chain goes straight to women, youth and PWDs.
  • Value of sales of value added agricultural commodities.
  • Value of incremental sales (collected at farm-level) attributed to USAID funding.
  • Number of beneficiaries with new market linkages as a results of USAID assistance.
  • Number of private enterprises, producers’ organizations, trade and business associations and community based organization (CBOs) that applied improved technologies or management practices as a result of USAID assistance.
  • Number of people who have applied improved technologies or management practices to upgrade agricultural value chains as a result of USAID assistance.
  • Number of hectares under improved technologies and management practices as a result of USAID assistance
  • Number of individual who have received USAID supported short term agricultural sector productivity or food security training.
  • Number of micro, small and medium enterprises receiving USAID assistance to access loans.
  • Value of agricultural and rural loans provided as a result of PSDAG grant.
  • Number of micro, small and medium enterprises receiving business development services from USG assisted sources.
7.    Application and Grant Award Process
The PSDAG project team will review Applications submitted in response to this RFA on a monthly rolling basis for 6 months, or until PSDAG allocated funding has been fully obligated. The process for reviewing Applications and subsequent Grant Applications is as follows:
  • Applications will be screened to determine if they meet the minimum eligibility requirements.
  • Eligible applications will be reviewed by a Grants Evaluation Committee (GEC); it is anticipated that applications will be reviewed starting on the first of each month.
  • Applicants may be invited to present their activities and business to the GEC in person to support applications that have high potential but have weaknesses in writing.
  • Once all reviews are completed, the GEC will meet and select the most competitive applicants.
  • Whether approved or not approved, the applicant will receive written confirmation of the result from PSDAG.
  • PSDAG staff will complete due diligence and final budget negotiations, including site visits, interviews and evaluations to confirm eligibility and capacity of the applicant. This process will include environmental impact assessment of the project, financial viability and management capability of the organization, among other criteria.
  • Approved grantees will sign a Grant Agreement. PSDAG staff will then begin to work with the grantee to implement and monitor all activities.
  • PSDAG may offer its support in-kind or in Rwandan France (RFW), and the disbursement may be staggered based on milestones reached and/or agreed upon financing schedules.
8.    Request for Application (RFA) Instructions
Firms, Cooperatives or organizations (NGOs) which are interested by this specific grant opportunity and meet the eligibility criteria are required to request full RFA documents and application instructions by sending an email to: grants@psdag.org.
Applicants will need to complete and submit Attachment 1: Grant Application Template, Attachment 2: Budgetand their registration documents. Note that PSDAG will not contribute to funding the acquisition of assets already commissioned or ordered by the applicant when any payment has already been made to the vendor or is scheduled to be made before the grant is approved.
9.    Submission of Applications
Applications will be reviewed on a first-come rolling basis. Applications may be submitted to PSDAG at any point up to the closing date of this solicitation. Completed application forms should be submitted on or before August 31, 2017 at 17:00 hour’s Local time. Applications should be submitted electronically to: grants@psdag.org or delivered to the PSDAG offices located at KG 684 St, No. 19, Kacyiru, Kigali.
Applicants who are selected will be notified and will be informed on next steps of pre-award assessment, through the grants@psdag.org address. All further questions and communication regarding this RFA must be directed to grants@psdag.org.
10.    Bidders’ conference
The project will hold a pre-application question and answer conference on May 31 and June 19, 2017 at the PSDAG Training Room located at Kacyiru, at 9:00am to 11:00am. This conference will allow interested applicants the chance to ask questions about the RFA. Interested parties that would like to attend this workshop must confirm their attendance by sending the participant’s name and the organization’s name to grants@psdag.org. Maximum of 2 representatives may attend from each organization. When confirming attendance, please indicate if the person has any special needs to access the conference. No reimbursement for costs of attendance will be met. This event will start promptly.

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