Research Consultant, Case Studies On Last Mile Finance In Least Development Countries


Organisation:  United Nations Capital Development Fund

Apply By:  12 Jan . 2016

Location:   Home Based

Research Consultant, Case Studies On Last Mile Finance In Least Development Countries
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UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs). With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. This last mile is where available resources for development are scarcest; where market failures are most pronounced; and where benefits from national growth tend to leave people excluded.  UNCDF’s financing models work through two channels: savings-led financial inclusion that expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economy, providing them with the tools they need to climb out of poverty and manage their  financial lives; and by showing how localized investments -- through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance -- can drive public and private funding that underpins local economic expansion and sustainable development. UNCDF financing models are applied in thematic areas where addressing barriers to finance at the local level can have a transformational effect for poor and excluded people and communities.

UNCDF’s mission is to make finance work for the poor. By strengthening how finance works for poor people at the household, small enterprise, and local infrastructure levels, UNCDF contributes to SDG 1 on eradicating poverty with a focus on addressing exclusions and inequalities of access.  At the same time, UNCDF deploys its capital finance mandate in line with SDG 17 on the means of implementation, to unlock public and private finance for the poor at the local level. Moreover, by identifying those market segments where innovative financing models can have transformational impact, UNCDF contributes to a number of different SDGs.

Duties and Responsibilities

The SDGs present an ambitious global agenda, one which cannot be achieved simply by extrapolating that which worked for achieving the MDGs. This is especially true in the case of LDCs. Eliminating poverty, for example, is not the same thing as reducing poverty. Similarly, reaching universal goals for access to health and education will no longer be only about making more vaccines or teachers available, because the root causes of exclusion and deprivation are often deeply embedded in economic, social, and political disenfranchisement. To achieve the SDGs, we need to understand the political and social drivers of exclusion, and the practical and evidence-based solutions which can overcome them.

This includes overcoming the structural challenges which prevent financing flowing to the “last mile” – to those populations, businesses or localities (secondary cities, peri-urban or rural areas etc) that are not being reached by current financing and business models.  Indeed, innovative finance and businesses models can get finance flowing to where it currently does not reach, thereby promoting inclusive growth, reducing inequalities, and making local economies not only beneficiaries of but dynamic contributors to growth too.

As part of a joint research paper with UNDP, UNCDF is looking to recruit a short-term consultant to examine the importance of addressing barriers to finance at the local level and how doing so, through applying appropriate and innovative financing approaches and businesses models, can have a transformational effect for poor and excluded people, small businesses, communities, and local economies.

To demonstrate how a representative mix of innovative financing and business models can unlock finance for the poor work and achieve various development goals, UNCDF will be preparing case studies where the resources needed from different sources, especially at the domestic level, have been mobilized and allocated to the local level to drive local economic development.

Specifically to this end, UNCDF is looking for a consultant who would conduct research and write three short (7-10 page) case studies on how different financing models can support the achievement of development goals, tackle exclusions and address inequalities. These case studies would cover: a) the financing of local infrastructure to underpin local economic expansion and poverty reduction; b) how innovative financing models on financial inclusion can support the diffusion of new technologies, such as renewable energy, to poor households and communities; and c) how a shift to digital financial services can reach unbanked, poor and remote populations who have been excluded from traditional financial networks.

Each case study should highlight and summarize a clear analysis around the following general structure, reflecting clearly the specificities of each of the three cases and their project cycle and development stages:

  • What is the development challenge and market failure being addressed?
  • How has the model in question blended public and private finance to overcome that market failure and crowded in the necessary additional investments to the local level?
  • What does the case study tell us about the leveraging potential of the model – eg: How much additional finance was leveraged? What does this imply in terms of its future potential?
  • What does the case study tell us about the UNCDF maturity model – eg: how the project moves from innovation to consolidation to scale up? What is the future potential for scale and replication?
  • What does the case study tell us about the populations served, and how innovative finance models can address exclusion and inequality? What is the future potential for addressing these populations? For each case study, there should be a specific examination of the effect and future potential impact on women and youth.
  • Which innovative financing models best may be suited to support specific development sectors or investments?
  • What are the primary lessons learned from what worked and what did not, and what are recommendations going forward to various stakeholders?

In addition, the following specific questions should be considered for the different case studies

For that on local infrastructure, the focus of the case study would be on UNCDF’s Local Finance Initiative and how it is acting as a facility that uses structured project finance to mobilize and allocate domestic investments - from both public and private resources, especially at the domestic level (such as from local banks and pension funds) - to the subnational level (secondary cities, peri-urban and rural areas) to underpin local economic expansion and sustainable development. This section would further include a box on UNCDF’s LoCAL programme and its model of support for local climate-resilient infrastructure.

For that on diffusing new technologies, it will be important to consider how innovative financing models can support expanding access to essential technologies for poor households and communities, with special attention on women—which in turn can lead to further financial inclusion and participation in the real economy. The focus would be on UNCDF’s CleanStart programme and would look at “demand” side client finance and also at financing at the lower end of the energy “supply” chain. The role of both financial service providers and energy service providers needs to be examined. This section could further include a short box on UNCDF’s work to enhance access to smart technologies for sub national governments.

For that on digital, it will be important to analyze how digital financial services models need to be differentiated by market and client-oriented and how the correct mix of technical, financial, and policy support can assist in scaling up sustainable branchless and mobile financial services. The focus would be on UNCDF’s Mobile Money for the Poor programme, with special attention paid to the significance of digital for access of women and youth to financial services. Information and data could also be gathered from Microlead and YouthStart about the application of digital to reach women and youth.

Work Arrangements and Methodology

The consultant will work under the direct supervision of the UNCDF Policy Adviser, and will remain in regular contact with the Policy Adviser on progress made, providing weekly updates.

The consultant will work full-time and be home-based.  The consultant will be responsible for using his/her own computer. He/she will have access to the relevant UNCDF programme and other documents; the Policy Adviser can assist in this regard.

The consultant will need to conduct  his/her own research as well as (telephonic) interviews with UNCDF HQ and field-based programme managers and staff as well as their different partners and counterparts (these will differ depending on the case study) as required. These will help, inter alia, highlight the specificities of each case study and their project cycle development stages. These could be in person depending on where the consultant is located


Competencies

Functional Competencies:

  • Knowledge of development finance, and in particular financial inclusion and/or payments and local infrastructure is desirable;
  • Demonstrated skills in knowledge management;
  • Demonstrated research and analytical capacity; 
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • Proven ability to manage complex tasks and to deliver quality products on time;
  • Able to take initiative and work independently;
  • Ability to demonstrate understanding of client's perspective;
  • Ability to keep clients informed of problems or delays in the provision of services;
  • Ability to identify strategic lessons through analyzing programme activities.

Corporate Competencies:

  • Demonstrates integrity by modeling the UN’s values and ethical standards;
  • Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of UNCDF;
  • Ability to get things done on time and of high quality;

Ability to think creatively and to listen and learn

Required Skills and Experience

Education:

  • Minimum post-graduate degree in the field of public administration, economics, development, finance, business or public administration, or related field.

Experience:

  • At least 7 years of relevant post-graduate experience in conducting and overseeing innovative research at the international level is required;
  • Minimum 5 years of experience working on issues of financial inclusion or local development finance;
  • Prior experience carrying out analytical and original case study work strongly desirable;
  • Experience working for UNDP or UNCDF is an asset;
  • Field experience desirable.

Language:

  • Fluency in English;
  • Knowledge of another UN language desirable.

Submission shall include:

  • Letter of confirmation of interest and availability;
  • Up-to-date personal CV or P11, indicating all past experience from similar projects, as well as the contact details (email and telephone number) of the Candidate and at least three (3) professional references
  • A cover letter explaining why the consultant is the most suitable for the work, and including a methodology for how the consultant will approach and complete the assignment.

Evaluation of candidates

The candidates will be evaluated through the Cumulative Analysis method. The award of the contract will be made to the individual consultant whose offer has been evaluated and determined as:

  • Responsive/compliant/acceptable;
  • Having received the highest score out of a pre-determined set of weighted technical and financial criteria specific to the solicitation;
  • Technical Criteria: weight 70%; and
  • Financial Criteria weight 30%.

Only candidates obtaining a minimum of 49 points in the technical evaluation would be considered for Financial Evaluation.

 

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