Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) RRA/LM/07 Strenghtening Industry Associations and Producer Organizations at Mercy Corps

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  • Post Date : October 25, 2022
  • Apply Before : February 27, 2024
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Job Detail

  • Job ID 21473
  • Career Level Mid-Level
  • Experience 2 Years
  • Qualifications Bachelor’s Degree (BSC)

Job Description

Mercy Corps is a global humanitarian aid agency engaged in transitional environments that have experienced some sort of shock: natural disaster, economic collapse, or conflict.Through this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), the USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity (RRA or the “Activity”) aims to identify potential partners and innovative approaches that leverage USAID resources to develop practical and market-driven solutions to implement innovative business models targeting smallholder farmers, youth, women and micro-enterprises who have been affected by the protracted conflicts and impacted by the effects of climate change in North eastern Nigeria.

The activity is implemented by Mercy Corps in partnership with Save the Children International (SCI) and International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). The goal of the Rural Resilience Activity is to ‘facilitate and protect economic recovery and growth in vulnerable, conflict-affected areas and sustainably move people out of chronic vulnerability and poverty via expanded opportunities’. This goal will be achieved through the following four major components. The Activity seeks to increase incomes, improve the livelihood and resilience of households through market-led growth in 4 States in North Eastern Nigeria.

Layered on the principles of broadened and inclusive growth through agricultural and non-agricultural  microenterprises competitiveness; the Activity objectives are a) inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth; b) strengthened resilience among people and systems; and c) a well-nourished population, especially women and children, thereby contributing to sustainable reductions in malnutrition and poverty. Through this NOFO, the Activity seeks partnerships with private sector players such as business member organisation, producer organisations and business associations etc. with a presence in all or some of the 4 states.     

Responses to the grants application should identify how actions proposed, with the support of USAID, would promote the target participants, who may be engaged in on-farm or off-farm activities and positioning for commercial growth and profit.

RRA intends to award 25 grants to eligible companies, as defined in Section D, up to a maximum amount of US $25,000 per award. Amounts above this value may be approved if one applicant works in more than one state. The expected duration of RRA support or the period of performance is twelve (12) months.  Mercy Corps, as the primary implementer of the Feed the Future/Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity, reserves the right to fund any or none of the proposals submitted.

For this program, this NOFO is being issued and consists of this cover letter and the following:

     Section A – Statement of Objectives

     Section B – Requirements

     Section C – Selection Process

     Section D –Evaluation Criteria

Award will be made to the responsible applicant(s) whose application(s) offers the best value for money.

Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of RRA, nor does it commit RRA to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of an application.  Applications are submitted at the risk of the applicant.  All preparation and submission costs are at the applicant's expense.

Any questions concerning this NOFO should be submitted in writing not later than ten (10) days prior to the closing date shown above to 25th November 2022 at mcn-rra-rfa@mercycorps.org. Applicants should retain for their records one copy of all enclosures which accompany their application.

Thank you for your interest in Feed the Future/Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity activities.

Sincerely,

Margarita Ravi Aswani
Chief of Party, Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity 

Section A: Statement of Objectives

The Activity seeks to improve the resilience capacities of climate or conflict-affected households, communities, and markets using market-led approaches layered with complementary investments in humanitarian assistance to contribute to economic recovery and growth. Working closely with public, civil society and economic actors, RRA seeks to broaden, and support inclusive and resilient growth through agricultural competitiveness. The Activity objectives include 1) inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth; 2) strengthened resilience among people and systems; and 3) a well-nourished population, especially women and children, thereby contributing to sustainable reductions in global hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The Activity seeks to reinforce practices that move away from dependency on non-market driven initiatives. In addition, the Activity seeks to facilitate the growth of firms that are committed to investing in inclusive agricultural business models and support services in the areas of finance and provision of agri-enterprise related interconnected services in North eastern Nigeria.

The Activity’s vision for northeast Nigeria is a process by which the region achieves a step-change in scale driven by competitive, inclusive and resilient growth.

Figure 1: The Market Systems Continuum

 

Problem Statement

Producer Organisations, business membership organisations (BMOs) and industry associations are faced with capacity constraints which limit their scope to serve members. Increased management capacity, business skills, improved governance, and improved capacity to negotiate and advocate for members will help industry associations serve its members, increase member profits by selling to higher value markets.  In Northeast Nigeria, there is a high potential for building social capital and economic empowerment strengthening through socio-economic networks.

However, where there are no stronger industry associations, or where associations are not organised into socio-economic groups with common business expansion goals, coupled with non-existent or weak leadership, governance structures, and formalization, sustainable economic empowerment becomes challenging. This is a common trend among producer organizations, especially those who are women and youth-led, and makes the rural producers find difficulty in accessing finance, inputs/output markets which then hampers production and productivity. The absence of strong, gender transformative, and youth-inclusive farmer organizations limits their access to knowledge and information on good agriculture production techniques and limits access to competitive markets. Further, gaps in production and entrepreneurial knowledge and information on agriculture and ready markets for goods produced are lacking across most of the producer organizations in North-East Nigeria.

The NOFO seeks to deliberately support industry associations through the following:

Strengthening of strong and institutionalized producer organizations/groups. This will also entail upgrading the existing state-based networks/groups to firm up a foundation for increased productivity and income of small holder farmers.
Support the established BMOs to build governance and leadership which is required for the resilient growth.
Infuse the entrepreneurial culture and relationships management within the groups and with other actors, which are needed to create stronger industry associations.

Section B: Special Grant Requirements

The Activity grant aims to support industry associations to build a sustainable opportunity to engage in exchange in goods and services. Specifically, this funding opportunity seeks to leverage networks of rural households served by public or private sector firms such as input distributors or buyers under out-grower schemes to:

Enable industry associations to innovate a business model that offers mutual benefit
Support industry associations to expand to strengthen aggregation, private extension, and digitized networks of farmer suppliers and customers and/or build their capacities.
Support industry associations strengthen to grow sales, leverage investments, increase their customer base, etc. and to deepen their impact.

RRA seeks to identify 25 industry associations. that are already in the business of offering extension services in Northeast, as either input distributors, agri-services providers, financial and business services providers, traders, processors, off-takers, agri-tech providers and/or under out grower models. The Activity seeks to reduce market distortions arising from the infusion of grant funds. Care should be taken to ensure that the structure of the promotion or discount does not negatively affect long-term market sustainability.

The award will be directly managed by the Rural Resilience Activity with USAID support. This

solicitation intends to enter into a business metric-based milestone agreement that includes interventions that fit the evaluation criteria outlined in Section D below.

The number of partnerships available will be determined based on interest, funding available, and quality of proposals. The proposed projects are anticipated to begin by January 2023 and end on or before December 2023 However, proposals could be submitted for multi-year activities over multi-year phases, with phase 1 to cover a maximum of one year.
The total value of each award from the Rural Resilience Activity for this solicitation is estimated to range from US$5,000 – US$25,000 with 25 partnerships anticipated. Proposals must make business sense for the partner and must demonstrate a significant impact for smallholder farmers and MSMEs.
As the amount of an award is subject to negotiation, a negotiated award amount may or may not fall within this range. Furthermore, the Rural Resilience Activity is not obligated to issue awards/an award up to the number of funds available. Grantees may be required to cover and create leverage of minimum over the next one year of 50% of the total cost.
Application reviews will take place in December 2022. All applicants will be notified of their application status at this time. Note that immediate negotiations and site visits will occur with successful applicants around January 2023. Site visits and other engagements requiring physical interactions will take into consideration relevant COVID-19 guidelines from the Federal and targeted State Governments in Nigeria. Please make sure the proposed project manager and a decision-maker will be available at that time since negotiations and site visits are required steps in the award process for selected applications.

Award Performance Management

RRA will work with the awardees award. The awardees will specifically be required to provide assorted monitoring and evaluation data to RRA such as:

# Of members reached with goods and services
# Names of and type of services offered to members
# Type of products produced/sold including volume and cost
Value of sales and benefits accrued to women and youth producers
Value of investments

Section C: Selection Process

Within ten (10) working days of the deadline for submitting expressions of interest, a technical review panel will convene. RRA shall take steps to ensure that members of the review panel do not have any conflicts of interest or the appearance of such with regard to the organizations whose applicants are under review.  All Applications that meet the NOFO requirements will be reviewed by the review panel, applications which passed the review stage will then undergo co-creation process with Rural Resilience Activity technical team. 

Eligibility

For this Call for Applications, RRA is interested in partnering with: for-profit private sector companies

foreign organizations (referred to as non-U.S. NGOs): either non-profit or for-profit organizations that meet the definition in 2 CFR 200.47 can apply as part of a consortium. However, the lead applicant

must be legally registered in Nigeria. Applicants must have a Unique Entity Identifier- UEI (alphanumeric 12 characters). A UEI is not required for application but will be required for receipt of award. Applicants must be social enterprises such as a community-based organizations with commercial business models. Applicants must be Nigerian licensed and legal business organizations/associations/cooperatives working in Nigeria. Individual consultants will not be considered for this NOFO. Previous or ongoing work with RRA does NOT preclude applicants from participating. Current partners encouraged to apply.

Information meeting

The information meeting will provide an opportunity for interested applicants to learn more about the opportunity and the process. Attendance at the information meeting is an optional requirement by applicants. If interested in participating, applicants should send an email requesting interest to participate in an information meeting to rra-rfa@mercycorps.org and a meeting will be organized for applicants individually or as a group and as appropriate.

Section D: Evaluation Criteria

Upon submission, the RRA Team will evaluate all applications using the following criteria:

Business Case: Applicants will be evaluated on how the proposed partnership will meet business goals and objectives while engaging and supporting smallholder farmers. Applicants should introduce the proposed product or service and present a clear business case for it. Applicants should explain how the proposed activity complements and aligns with Rural Resilience Activity (RRA) Objectives.

Commercial viability where applicable: Applicants will be evaluated on the potential for growth of the product or service in the smallholder market. The market opportunity should be explained, including any market constraints faced by the business. Confirmation of long-term commitment to engaging smallholder farmers in business operations should be provided. Applicants will be evaluated on how the product or services will continue to scale post-funding. Applicants should provide a five-year projection of revenue, costs, and net income.

Organizational Capacity: Applicants will be evaluated on business and management qualifications in regards to scaling products or services that target smallholder farmers and microenterprises. Applicants should articulate the organization’s experience (track record) operating in smallholder markets, identify any potential capacity gaps in systems or management, and provide solutions for filling those gaps.

Impact on Target Group: Does the approach correspond to the needs of the target groups (farmers, processors, traders, MSMEs) and directly benefit them? Ability to enable targeted actors to earn reasonable and sustainable returns based on a clearly articulated business case.

Inclusivity: Does the proposed activity incorporate a gender component or represent a strong commitment to including women, youth, disabled, and other vulnerable groups as beneficiaries?

Instructions: Cost is a determining factor though this criterion should be weighted less than the other five.

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