Terms of Reference- Mapping of MFI ENGAGE

VSO Nepal

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Terms of Reference- Mapping of MFI ENGAGE

Terms of Reference


Engaging consultant to undertake mapping of potential Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) to link them with the project beneficiaries

Name of ProjectEmpowering a New Generation of Adolescent Girls with Education in Nepal (ENGAGE)
CountryNepalProject Location3 districts (Parsa, Sarlahi and Banke) which includes a total of 7 palikas:two Palikas each in Sarlahi and Parsa and 3 Palikas in Banke
Duration of the Research/Study33 days
Duration of the Project4 Years (18th August 2018- 31st December 2022)
Purpose of theResearchPurpose  –  VSO  Nepal is looking for an accomplished and highly motivated independent consultant/firm to conduct a “mapping of microfinance institutions- MFIs” in Sarlahi (Malangwa Municipality, Kaudena Rural Municipality), Parsa (Dhobini and Jagarnathpur Rural Municipality) and  Banke  (Kohalapur  Municipality,  Baijanath, and  Khajura  Rural Municipality). The consultant will be responsible.To identify highly potential (MFIs) which could accommodate the neo-literate entrepreneurs into their existing services and products or flexible to design new services and products to accommodate the project beneficiaries.To use different tools/techniques and analyze data to recommend best potential MFIs at least three in each 7 Palikas to create linkage with the project beneficiaries. To document best practices of collaboration between MFIs and marginalized communities in the study areas

1. Introduction

With funding from Girls’ Education Challenge, LNGB window of UK Aid (FCDO’s), VSO Nepal in partnership with HI (consortium partner) and implementing partners in the districts (Banke, Parsa and Sarlahi) has been implementing ENGAGE project. This project has successfully been able to improve learning of the project beneficiaries (includes children with disability) and helped support to transition them into their aspired pathways (10-14 years girls into formal education and 15-9 years girls in livelihood initiatives). Project is now in the process of sustaining the outcomes achieved from project interventions. One of the strategies that the project has considered is linking neo-literate entrepreneurs (produced by the project) with the locally available potential MFIs which aims to engage them (primary actors) in continued saving, credit, remittance and micro insurance facilities (wherever applicable).

2. Project Overview

Empowering a New Generation of Adolescent Girls with Education (ENGAGE) is a consortium project, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). VSO is a leading the project and Handicap International (HI) has been taking technical lead on disability and inclusion. Banke, Parsa and Sarlahi are the project districts. ENGAGE project has been developed and implemented to support Nepal government’s “School Sector Development Plan (2016-2023) – SSDP” which aims to improve the quality, equity, governance and management, efficiency, and resilience.

ENGAGE primarily focuses on supporting 2525 numbers of out of school (OOS) marginalized girls that includes 262 children with disabilities from 10-19 years of age. Major interventions under ENGAGE are non-formal education for basic literacy and numeracy, preparatory classes for basic survival communication skills to the visually and hearing impairments, formal education support, employability skills development and enhancing girls with disabilities’ economic opportunities through linking them into the small-scale labour market. Additionally, the project supports resource classes and municipality to provide better educational opportunities to the girls with disabilities. Furthermore, Personalized Social Support (PSS) and Big sister mentoring approach are inbuilt into the programming approach of ENGAGE. International, national and community volunteers are providing mentoring and coaching supports to the primary actors, facilitators, and government authorities to accelerate the performance and maximizes the effect of project intervention.

After the graduation from the non-formal education; those targeted girls have set their pathway either to; enrolling into formal education or life skill & livelihood. Project has now been successfully able to produce 833 entrepreneurs that are planned to connect with the locally available MFIs to engage them into sustained saving, credit, remittance, and micro insurance facilities (wherever applicable).

Hence, this study aims at assessing/identifying the highly potential MFIs that could accommodate the project beneficiaries (primary actors) in the existing services and products or flexible to design product and services which could accommodate the needs of the project beneficiaries. It is expected that engagement of MFIs will support in ensuring sustainability of livelihood options chosen by the primary actors.

3. Scope of the Research/Study

3.1 Some guiding research questions

For MFIs:

  • What are the services/products available in the locally available MFIs?
  • What schemes MFIs have, to accommodate the highly marginalized girls/neo-literate entrepreneurs? What are the good practices?
  • How flexible MFIs are to design new services and products to accommodate the diverse need of marginalized population (includes people with disability)?
  • How is the geographic outreach/coverage of the MFIs? Do the project beneficiaries lie within the coverage or what are mechanisms to support these actors if they are beyond the geographical scope?
  • How is the portfolio of the MFIs (saving, loan, remittance, micro insurance, loan repayment, diverse loanee, prospects etc.)?
  • What is the existing spread rate i.e., difference between the interest on saving and interest on lending?
  • How MFIs engage/inform local communities/marginalized communities with their schemes and priorities?

For: beneficiaries and key informants:

  • What do you understand by MFIs? Why do we need MFIs?
  • How much you are aware about the locally available MFIs?
  • How much you are aware about the performance of these MFIs?
  • How much the members of MFIs satisfied with the existing service and products?
  • How is the interest rate of MFIs on saving and loan?
  • Are there any examples of MFIs supporting marginalized groups including person with disability? Any example of good practices?
  • How is the repayment schedule?
  • What are list of required documents like collateral, that are mandatory for the loan application process?
  • How long does it take to receive the loan amount after the loan application?
  • How far are the MFIs office? Is it safe to visit their offices?
  • How accessible (for persons with disability) MFIs are?
  • How is loan process in MFIs? How easy to get loan or clients should visit frequently to the MFIs for the loan application? How MFIs engage/inform local communities/marginalized communities with their schemes and priorities?

3.2 Methodological approach

Project has trained 833 entrepreneurs (Parsa- 235, Sarlahi- 236 & Banke- 362) in different skills they aspired, provided support with micro grant as a business start-up support. They have just commenced the enterprises locally and now in the process of expanding their enterprises. Due to the lack of credit facilities, they are struggling to move ahead. Hence, project has planned to link them with the locally available MFIs to ensure they get the services they require. As mentioned above in “some guiding research question” the study will capture qualitative information through FGD and KII that will be administered amongst the MFIs, beneficiaries’ groups and other key informants.

Main objective of the study is to assess the locally available MFIs and recommend the best potentials. Hence, to reach this goal, the consultant should propose appropriate methodology for the research/study. Further, consultant should develop related questionnaires and checklist and share VSO prior to start the data collection. VSO’s technical team then will review all the questionnaires & checklist and approve accordingly.

While collecting data, VSO wants to refer to its Evidence Principles, see Annex 1, to ensure the following:

  • Our approaches and designs are ethical and reasonable
  • Build in continuous and on-going analysis into the methodology
  • Methods are appropriate and relevant for the purpose
  • Test and peer review our methodological approaches
  • Ethical approach to evidence collection, analysis and use
  • Data is analysed in a systematic way that leads to convincing conclusions
  • The perspectives of different stakeholders are compared and analysed in establishing if and how change has occurred

There will be several rounds of technical discussions on the research findings with the VSO technical team; and the consultants need to present the findings through various modes, i.e., face-to-face interactions, virtual mode etc. The consultant is responsible to incorporate relevant technical feedback provided, share the report and get approval from the VSO to make it final.

3.3 Sampling and data availability

Primary data will be based on qualitative inquiries and will include stakeholders as given below:

  • Youth Entrepreneurs/businessperson
  • Parents and community members
  • Local government authorities
  • Implementing partner staff
  • Project beneficiaries and community volunteers
  • Representatives of MFIs etc.

ENGAGE project will provide the updated list of project beneficiaries who are enrolled into the livelihood initiatives upon request. However, researcher need to carry out desk review (literature reviews) to enable secondary data collection as required.

The consultant should follow the standard of good data quality to minimise the data bias as much as possible. However, the methodology will be agreed in between once the researcher proposes. Based on the agreed framework, researcher will enable primary data collection that should ensure the survey for qualitative data collection.

4.Risks and challenges of the research

It is important that the successful bidder has taken all reasonable measures to mitigate any potential risk to the delivery of the required outputs for this study/research. Therefore, bidders should submit a comprehensive risk management plan covering:

  • The assumptions underpinning the successful completion of the proposals submitted and the anticipated challenges that might be faced.
  • Estimation of the level of risk for each risk identified.
  • Proposed contingency plans that the bidder will put in place to mitigate against any occurrence of each of the identified risk.
  • Specific child protection risks and mitigating strategies, including reference to the child protection policy and procedures that will be in place; and
  • Health and safety issues that may require significant duty of care precautions.

5. Target audience of the research

Research findings will be shared with project beneficiaries, and all key stakeholders. These might include funders and other programmes in VSO and wider in the sector. The final report and summary report will be documented as “Knowledge Product” to be presented as learning papers more widely. VSO is the owner of raw data and all final products from this study/research.

6. Resources and budget available

6.1 Resources:

It is expected that the study/research will be carried out and produced final report by August 25, 2022.

The summary report (a 4-pager) must be finalised before August 19, 2022.

6.2 Budget:

Payments of the proposed fees to the independent consultant/firm will be based on the payment schedule listed below (Bullet no. 9). All the statutory tax will be deducted at source before the payment. In performing the service, the Consultant/firm will act as an independent consultant and will not be deemed to be an employee or agent of VSON. Payment will be made to the respective bank account of the independent consultant/firm.

7. Timeline and Deliverables/output

S.N.DeliverablesTime durationTimeline
1Develop  a  framework  and  tools  to  map  MFIs  inMadhesh and Lumbini Province of Nepal3 days
2Visit Sarlahi, Parsa & Banke and conduct study18 days
3Produce summary report (4 pagers) and draft report4 days
4Accommodate  inputs  of  VSO’s  technical  team  andProduce (complete and final) Palika specific report7 days
5Final sharing of the findings and recommendation1 day

Detailed steps, processes, need to be designed and their implementation timeline need to be mentioned clearly on the work plan.

Please confirm you will follow our reporting requirements outlined below:

  • All reports along with a standard PPT presentation (of findings and recommendation) should be submitted in both hard copy and soft copy.
  • The consultant will be required to provide face-to-face or distance presentations of all deliverables as an integral part of the submission process.
  • The consultant will be expected to provide a fully ‘cleaned-up’ dataset of qualitative data in transcripts accompanied by the codes used to carry out analysis.
  • Bidders are required to organize and fund their own duty of care arrangements as required.

8. Management and governance

The consultant will need to regularly communicate with the VSO’s personnel, attend meeting as required and submit the reports to the consortium project manager, monitoring and evaluation manager, project coordinator as well as consultant-knowledge product. The VSO team will provide inputs after thoroughly reviewing the reports and other deliverables. Consultants need to address all the inputs by the given timeline and produce refine products as an agreed deliverable.

9. Expertise required

SNDescriptionPercentage of Contract Amount
1.Upon signing the contract30% of the contract amount
2.After submission of Final Report and satisfactory completion of all the deliverables.70% of the contract amount

The proposed research consultant should include the technical expertise and practical experience required to deliver the scope of work and research outputs with regards to:

  • Research design: the firm/independent consultant should include skills and expertise required to design, plan and conduct mapping of MFIs independently.
  • Skills in qualitative data collection and analysis, drawing findings from multiple sources and handling potential contradictions between data sets. Therefore, consultant must have good logical, qualitative analysis, and writing skills to capture the process well.
  • Relevant subject matter knowledge and experience: The firm/independent consultant should have enough knowledge and experience about the subject matter-mapping of MFIs considering the newly literate 15-19 years age girls.
  • Safety considerations: Ensuring the whole evaluation process adhere to best practice for research with children including the implementation of child protection policy and procedures to ensure safety of participants. Note that all bidders are expected to be able to show that they have a child protection policy in place to safeguard children that the research team would come into contact with through the research activities.
  • Good understanding of local context and business environment of Madhesh and Lumbini province of Nepal.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience in conducting such assessment.
  • Capacity to undertake the responsibilities independently.
  • Proven ability to analyze the socio-economic context.
  • Excellent networking skills with private and public sector institutions.
  • Excellent analytical and communication skills in English and Nepali. Consultant/firm familiar with the local language are highly preferred.

Annex 1: VSO’s Evidence Principles

1. Evidence

  • Helps learn from failure
  • Identifies the limits of the research
  • clearly demonstrates what and how we have contributed to change
  • illustrates how different approaches to volunteering adds value to change
  • illustrates how continuous analysis  (assumptions,  contributions,  context)  is built into our programs.

2. Voice and Inclusion

  • the perspectives of the most excluded and marginalized groups are included in the evidence
  • we understand the power dynamics – assess power, interest and influence – levels of interest and importance in each context
  • data collectors are well prepared and suited to capture the voices of all the people affected by the intervention
  • primary actors and stakeholders play an active role in the assessment process
  • the findings are disaggregated according to sex, disability, and other relevant social differences
  • data collected is interpreted thought on-going dialogue with primary actors/ stakeholders

3. Contribution

  • data is available to show that change has happened
  • the explanation of how the intervention contributes to change is explored
  • alternative factors (e.g., the contribution of other actors) are explored to explain the observed result alongside an intervention’s contribution
  • unintended and unexpected changes (positive or negative) are identified and explained

4. Methodologies

  • We ensure that our approaches and designs are ethical and reasonable
  • We build in continuous and on-going analysis into the methodology
  • We ensure the methods are appropriate and relevant for the purpose
  • We test and peer review our methodological approaches
  • We document and ensure an ethical approach to evidence collection, analysis and use
  • data is analyzed in a systematic way that leads to convincing conclusions
  • the perspectives of different stakeholders are compared and analyzed in establishing if and how change has occurred
  • conflicting findings and divergent perspectives are presented and explained in the analysis and conclusions

5. Transparency

  • We commit to report both negatives and positives, intended and unintended outcomes
  • We always ask consent, respect confidentiality and decisions
  • We commit to always being clear to participants on how and where data will be used
  • We state clearly the levels of independence of research
  • We commit wherever possible to compare our data with other data sources
  • findings and conclusions of the assessment are shared with, and validated by, a range of key stakeholders (e.g. beneficiaries, partners, peers)

6. Application Procedure

Consultancy firms are required to submit the following:

  • Letter of interest
  • Technical proposal which includes objectives and method with detailed timeline.
  • CVs of professional personnel proposed for the project
  • Financial proposal indicating consultancy fee and a breakdown of expenses.
  • The technical and financial proposals must be submitted in separate sealed envelopes.
  • Copy of company registration certificate (not required for independent persons/freelancers)
  • Copy of PAN/VAT registration certificate
  • Copy of Latest Tax clearance certificate of FY 2077/78
  • 2-3 sample of previous work clips in line with the technical requirements of the project.

Please send a cover letter and required documents in a sealed envelope by 19th June 2022 to:

VSO Nepal

Sanepa, Lalitpur

P.O. Box 207

Kathmandu, Nepal

For any enquiry: e-mail: procurement.nepal@vsoint.org