Consultant-Graduation Scoping-Remote

Remote Northeast Fitzgerald, ALBERTA | 4 months
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Job Summary

Job Description



Mercy Corps strives towards the provision of full financial inclusion for chronically under served individuals and businesses through market-driven approaches in countries affected by conflict, natural disasters, and economic and political crises. Mercy Corps improves access to, uptake, and continued usage, of a broad variety of financial instruments through a variety of delivery channels. Mercy Corps works with market stakeholders at all levels to ensure financial products and services are accessible; affordable ; and age, gender- and context-appropriate, and are delivered in a sustainable, scalable manner. In general, Mercy Corps takes a wide-range of approaches in complex and fragile contexts to achieve our vision of increased access to, and usage of, financial services for diverse groups, individuals and businesses.

However, there are often groups that are so vulnerable to the effects of food insecurity and poverty that alternatives solutions are required. People living in extreme poverty are among the bottom 50% of those living below national poverty lines. At the global level, these are people living with less than USD 1.25 a day, estimates from 2012 put this number of people at 1.2 billion. Although the ultra-poor are those most in need, they are often, if inadvertently, overlooked by many development interventions.  In Bangladesh, BRAC first piloted a new method of reaching this often under served population integrating the most critical aspects of social protection, livelihood development and access to affordable and appropriate financial services to ultimately graduate the ultra-poor from extreme poverty. Over the years, new providers of graduation approaches have entered into this space with modified approaches aiming to reach varying populations and contextual needs and demands, however the main facets of the graduation approach have remained:

-Drawing on the most relevant aspects of social protection, livelihoods development, and access to finance to deliver results;

-Combines support for immediate needs with longer term human capital investments, thereby protecting participants in the short-run while promoting sustainable livelihoods for the future;

- Purposefully targets the extreme poor—people at the lowest level of the economic ladder, who usually have few or no assets and are chronically food insecure;

- Focuses on 4 pillars of Graduation and how different Graduation activities help address them: Social Protection (Coaching, Referral Services, Consumption Support), Financial Inclusion (Savings/FE), Social Empowerment (Networks, Core capacity building/life skills), Livelihoods Promotion (Technical Skills training and asset transfer).

Purpose / Project Description:

Leveraging Mercy Corps experience working through partners to offer the graduation approach as well as our extensive experience applying a markets systems approach to our programming, we seek to map out how Mercy Corps will grow its leadership and programming in this space. This assignment aims to help Mercy Corps identify and build key strategic partnerships with graduation providers augmenting our agency expertise on graduation approaches through evidence-based lessons learned, and identifying the appropriate graduation approaches to offer in the varying contexts, countries and populations we serve. Further to this, Mercy Corps seeks to identify future funding opportunities and key donors in this space, as well as to identify the value Mercy Corps adds to the sector and our positioning in the industry.  

The key areas Mercy Corps seeks to understand with this consultancy are:

  • Mercy Corps current experience with the varied components of graduation and lessons learned to date. (To be gathered through key interviews with MC HQ protection, employment, markets, financial inclusion, youth and women advisors and Kenya, Uganda and Jordan country teams)
  • Existing graduation approaches, best practices and their relative costs and efficacy in varying country contexts and target populations
  • The current leaders in implementing graduation approaches and any gaps in service provision
  • Thought leaders and research entities focusing on graduation approaches in varying contexts
  • Funding opportunities with existing and new donors
  • Mercy Corps’ position as an agency to respond to future opportunities.  As we will look at these future opportunities and the connection to both resilience and food security (an assumption to be validated by the consultant’s donor landscape review), some reflections from existing literature on the extent to which this model not only increases income but is proven to increase food security and improve resilience are requested.

Key Questions to be addressed:

  • Who are the existing providers in graduation and what are their models of success?
  • What are the innovations around graduation and what would need to be true for Mercy Corps to be able to test these innovations?
  • What is Mercy Corps competitive advantage in this space?
  • How can a graduation approach fit into our market systems philosophy?
  • Who are the donors in this space that we should be targeting? With which partners?  To serve which particular population segments?
  • Does the graduation approach make sense for MC as an agency to pursue and invest into given, a) Mercy Corps mission and b) donor landscape and opportunities?

Consultant Activities:

The Consultant will:

  • Develop an assessment and mapping methodology as well as interviews guides in concert with Mercy Corps team member(s)
  • Lead interviews with key informants including, but not limited to:
    • Mercy Corps HQ technical staff engaged in market development, protection, gender, financial inclusion, etc.
    • MC field teams (May include, but are not limited to: Kenya, Uganda, Jordan, Ethiopia etc)
    • Graduation approach providers (BRAC, Trickle Up, Village Enterprise, Boma Project, Humanity International etc)
    • Graduation approach conveners (World Bank’s PEI unit, CGAP…)
    • Key donors (USAID, Gates, BPRM, OFDA, DFID, UNHCR etc…)
  • Develop and present validation presentation for Senior leadership and field teams involved in assessment process outlining:
    • Evidence for efficacy of graduation (
    • Providers of graduation approach and rating of fit for MC to partner with
    • Innovations around graduation (i.e Development Impact Bonds, usage of technology to deliver services, measuring resilience, applying a market systems lens to the approach, etc.)
    • How Mercy Corps can position the agency to respond as a leader in the graduation space and with which partners to reach what type of populations
    • Key strategic and operational challenges Mercy Corps faces in expanding focus on graduation
    • Funding opportunities – existing and new donors
    • Final recommendations and a way forward for Mercy Corps
  • Develop a final report documenting the above points and inclusive of feedback from Mercy Corps staff during validation presentation

Consultant Deliverables:

The Consultant will develop the following deliverables:

  • Phase 1 – Background research and key field interviews (20 days – inclusive of development of methodology, interview guides, interviews, secondary research, synopsis write up) – This phase will require the consultant to:
    • Conduct in depth research on graduation providers (MC to provide list for initial mapping);
    • Conduct in depth interviews with key internal Mercy Corps staff and field teams (to be identified)
    • Conduct in depth interviews with key graduation providers
    • Conduct in depth interviews and mapping of donor opportunities (including but not limited to
    • Explore innovations around graduation, including but not limited to:
      • Results Based Financing  
      • Usage of technology to enhance or complement offering of services
      • Market systems approach to graduation and its feasibility
    • Deliverable – Short synopsis of initial findings

  • Phase 2Present findings to Mercy Corps staff- (3 days – inclusive of prep and presentation) presentation must include but is not limited to:
    • Evidence for efficacy of graduation
    • Providers of graduation approach and rating of fit for MC to partner with (this will include an assessment on different providers approximate cost per beneficiary)
    • Innovations around graduation (Results based financing, usage of technology to deliver services, measuring resilience)
    • How Mercy Corps can position the agency to respond as a leader in the graduation space and with which partners to reach what type of populations
    • Funding opportunities – existing and new donors
    • Final recommendations and a way forward for Mercy Corps
    • Deliverable – Present validation presentation to Mercy Corps team (to be held in either DC, Portland, OR or remotely)
  • Phase 3 – Final report (5 days)
      • Deliverable – Submit Final report to internal graduation working group

Timeframe / Schedule:  

The anticipated length of this consultancy is approximately 28 days beginning in January of 2019 and concluding approximately by March 2019. A final timeline will be developed in consultation with Mercy Corps at the beginning of the consultancy to establish deadlines for submission of the deliverables, however below outlines an anticipated timeline:

  • Start of assignment (contract signed) - January 1, 2019
  • Phase 1 - submit initial synopsis of research and interviews - February 18, 2019
  • Phase 2 - Presentation to Mercy Corps - February 28, 2018
  • Phase 3 - Submission of final report - March 22, 2019

Consultant Background:

  • Master’s degree or equivalent combination of education and experience
  • At least five years of experience working with projects targeting the ultra-poor and inclusive of social protection, livelihoods and financial inclusion
  • Substantial experience and knowledge of graduation approach particularly in SSA context and with refugees
  • Strong knowledge of donor community in the graduation space
  • Excellent writing, analytical and presentation skills

The Consultant will report to:

Mercy Corps Markets team.

Interaction with key stakeholders:

Mercy Corps HQ’s graduation working group team members (2-3 team members), 6 Field teams, External graduation providers (including, but not limited to BRAC, Trickle Up, Boma Project, Village Enterprise, UNHCR etc), donors (including but not limited to World Bank’s PEI team, BMGF, USAID, GAC etc).

To apply:

Individuals interested in applying for this consultancy must submit materials to Mercy Corps by December 17, 2018. They are requested to include in their application the following documents: CV, writing sample on similar technical area, 1-2 professional references and daily rate.

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