Recruitment of a Consultant for the Support in access to finance activities within PROSPECTS-Lebanon

Agriculture, including horticulture is seen as a critical sector for employment creation and poverty reduction in Lebanon; hence has been a focus sector for the ILO under the PROSPECTS programme. An estimated 20-25 percent of the country’s working population is involved in agricultural-related activities on a full time or part time basis. In the poorest regions of the country (Akkar, Donnieh, Northern Beqaa and the South) agriculture-related activities account for up to 80 percent of the local economic output. Agriculture livelihoods, designated as a formal livelihood source facilitating refugees’ inclusion in the job market in Lebanon, provide economic integration opportunities that improve the food security of refugees and activate rural economies. It is also one of only three sectors where Syrian refugees are legally allowed to work.

However, the agriculture sector has also been hard-hit by the combined effects of the crises. The Centre de Recherche et d’Etudes Agricole Libanais (CREAL) warned in a recent report that agricultural production is likely to collapse, and projects a production drop in agriculture of around 40 percent of Lebanon’s total share in GDP due to farmers’ inability to access necessary agricultural inputs.

Rising prices for agricultural inputs and the breakdown of previously existing informal credit mechanisms have left farmers struggling to finance inputs and keep agricultural production going, threatening the jobs of both farmers and Syrian workers. In its efforts to address those challenges, ILO is working on increasing productivity and improving conditions for farmers and agriculture workers.

As such, by the end of 2020, PROSPECTS forged an implementation agreement with an implementing partner to provide financial and non-financial business development support and assist vulnerable groups in the creation of microbusinesses specifically in the agricultural and agri-food sectors, namely in Beqaa, Baalback-Hermal, Akkar, and North Lebanon governorates.  A total of 691 Lebanese and Syrians graduated from the “My First Business/MFB” tool developed by ILO, while 58 Start-ups & 8 SSEs (66 business ideas) were coached and provided with access to seed-funding (in the form of grants) that helped them establish their businesses following a competitive business pitching process. Additionally, some of these businesses were supported with access to market opportunities including digital marketing, supplier visits and mentoring to enhance their business viability.

Beyond grants for the most vulnerable farmers and agri-businesses to purchase basic inputs (fertilizers, seeds, etc.) and subsidies to purchase greenhouses, farmers and Agri processors need a more sustainable financial support, if they are to make investments that would increase their productivity and income.

In parallel, access to credit has diminished to the minimum following Lebanon ‘s financial crisis, and farmers and agricultural workers were equally affected especially that all banks stopped lending, while few financial institutions remained in operation providing limited credit for their old customers.

Against this backdrop, ILO PROSPECTS decided to work on enhancing access to finance/credit for farmers and agriculture workers while reviving the role that the microfinance sector can play in contributing to the growth of the agriculture sector, and the economy as a whole.  As such, a credit scheme was designed in collaboration with an MFI in early 2023 targeting farmers and agriculture workers in the Beqaa, Baalback-Hermal, Akkar, and North Lebanon, with the objective of facilitating access to credit for farmers and agriculture workers in the mentioned areas. The medium-to long-term objective is to support the national microfinance sector and institutions post crisis, so they can sustain their support to the agriculture sector, in particular, and the Lebanese economy in general.  

The designed credit scheme has provided loan product/s that respond to a wide range of needs of farmers and agri-businesses in the sector, while enhancing their business and financial management capacity. By the end of 2023, a total of 1,016 farmers and agri-food workers graduated from courses on “Improving your agriculture business” and financial education trainings, while 220 loans were disbursed in the value of USD 800,000.  The purpose is to help them enhance their productivity as described above and meet their current and emerging needs to enable them to sustain their production and agribusiness or expand it. This has provided opportunities for retention of existing jobs and creation of new ones. A market analysis was conducted earlier which guided the product profile further.

Following these interventions and as PROSPECTS kicks off its Phase II, it is important to a reflect on its Phase I results and conduct monitoring visits to assess the viability of established or expanded businesses through access to finance initiatives. This will help in understanding the impact and sustainability of these interventions, which will feed into the design of Phase II interventions.

Objective

The International Labour Organization is currently seeking to hire a local expert for 100 Work Days to support the ongoing monitoring for these clients through conducting field visits and review the main outputs achieved from the trainings provided and access to finance interventions.

Key Deliverables

  •  A monitoring visit plan including a schedule for 70 field visits along with 2 monitoring/assessment/questionnaire forms to be used to review/assess each component.             
  • At least 70 field monitoring visits for 300 clients who benefited from access to finance interventions (loans and grants in the past and ongoing).
  • 300 monitoring and/or assessment forms filled in and entered on the newly designed database.
  • 10 field visits to on-going trainings on improve your agri-business and financial education.
  • Four bi-monthly reports on the above monitoring visits and two final analysis reports for both components detailing the effectiveness and impact of the various interventions on the productivity, income, sustainability of the businesses and on job retain and creation.

Eligibility

To be considered as an eligible candidate, the consultant should have the following qualifications:

  • A university degree in relevant field of study (finance, Accounting, business management, economics)
  • Previous working experience of minimum 10 years in the financial sector with focus on MSME financing within microfinance sector in Lebanon. Experience in grant distribution for MSMEs is a strong plus.
  • A deep understanding of MSMEs in the Lebanese context in general, and in the agricultural sector in specific.
  • Experience in managing quantitative and qualitative primary data collection with good analytics, M&E experience,  and report writing skills.
  • Experience working with international organizations / bilateral donors / technical agencies shall be an advantage.
  • Working knowledge of Lebanese territories in Beqaa and North governorates
  • Proven experience in working with Arabic language is a must.

How to apply

Interested national experts are advised to check the enclosed Terms of Reference for further elaboration of the tasks and deliverables expected within the scope of this assignment.

To apply. please share the below document via email:

  • Updated CV
  • A brief technical proposal that delineates the relevant skills and expertise of the applicant, a proposed workplan, and the methodology and monitoring aspects/indicators for both components (entrepreneurship support – access to finance)
  • Financial proposal, indicating an all-inclusive daily rate (professional fee + logistics/transportation) quoted in USD (xxx USD/day)

The ILO promotes equal opportunities for women, men and disabled candidates to obtain decent and productive employment in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

Application with all the mentioned supporting documents is to be received by 11 March 2024, 11:59 PM, Beirut time, by:

  1. Fadia Jradi – Entrepreneurship/Financial Inclusion Technical Officer [email protected]
  2. Lara Al Hajj – Administrative and Finance Officer [email protected]

Proposals to be submitted by email and shall be valid for 90 days.

منتهية الصلاحية
آخر مدة للتقديم
الاثنين, 11. Mar 2024
نوع الدعوة
دعوة لتقديم مقترحات
قطاع(ات) التدخل:
تمويل إنساني وتنموي, تمويل وتجارة
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