Cash Feasibility and FSP assessment Consultant
Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive, recover, and rebuild their lives. At work today in over 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities, we restore safety, dignity, and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure. The IRC leads the way from harm to home. In Sierra Leone, the IRC provides vital assistance in health, women’s and girl’s empowerment and protection, and education and empowerment for adolescent girls.
The IRC Sierra Leone country program recently completed a Strategic Action Plan (SAP) and has identified a need to scale up cash and voucher assistance (CVA) within the current programs. One barrier to scale is the lack of financial service providers (FSP) and available delivery mechanisms in the areas that IRC programs in – which are largely rural with a low level of infrastructure, communications coverage, banking options. In addition, our clients are often the most socio-economically vulnerable, and often lack access to needed equipment, such as personal cell phones and cash points, and have low levels of literacy and digital literacy skills. This is especially true for women and girls. While many organizations provided cash assistance during and after the Ebola crisis in 2014-2016, the Cash Working Group was dissolved, and there are fewer organizations using cash currently.
While the IRC provides cash to our clients currently, the IRC has identified the need to further analyze the feasibility of CVA and different delivery mechanisms across various locations and client groups that IRC works in and with, and to identify the different risks and opportunities for different delivery mechanisms pose to clients and markets. The IRC seeks a short-term consultant to lead this important work.
Scope of the study
This assessment will initially gather learning from existing and past cash programs by IRC and peer organizations in Sierra Leone through external and internal key informant interviews (KIIs), and will also connect with and learn from different financial service providers including banks, mobile money platforms, microfinance institutions, remittance agencies, and other services available nationally and regionally, as well as government and ministry officials in Sierra Leone. This desk review and interview period will be followed by an on the ground assessment designed and lead by the consultant but using IRC staff and contractors as data collectors.
The objectives of this study are:
1. Conduct a cash feasibility study that is location specific and tailored to the needs of the IRC’s programming in Sierra Leone. This study will incorporate aspects of IRC’s specific program objectives and operational capacity; client preference in terms of modality and delivery mechanism; any community constraints in terms of security threats; infrastructure and operating environments in the targeted communities; local-level or national regulations to CVA (if applicable); existing financial service provides in areas, and potential entry points for new providers; and what risks and mitigations exist for different modalities, delivery mechanisms and Financial Service Providers (FSPs).
2. Determine which delivery mechanisms and related FSPs are best and most appropriate to IRC’s needs in terms of locations, client base, and scale – tailored to different programs and locations.
The assessment will have the following components:
1. Review of previous cash programs and initial mapping on FSPs at a national level:
The desk review of cash programs implemented by other organizations will inform the latter cash feasibility study. An initial desk review should be carried out to review existing secondary data and to inform subsequent key informant interviews and meetings with relevant NGO, cluster and working groups, FSPs, and government stakeholders. Where feasible the consultant should also arrange focus group discussions with clients to gain a client-centered perspective on how these programs were implemented.
a. Summary of donors and operating agencies who have implemented or have planned cash relief pilots to include locations and scale.
b. Methodology including beneficiary targeting and selection criteria.
c. Financial service providers/delivery mechanisms:
i. Which delivery mechanisms have been used and with which financial service providers?
ii. What are the associated fees?
d. Transfer rates and frequency.
e. Approach to provision of cash for unaccompanied minors (UAMs).
f. Coordination mechanisms and standards.
g. A summary of challenges and lessons learned from implementing NGOs, government stakeholders and beneficiaries.
2. Cash feasibility study in target locations: Per location, the consultant shall design and lead data collection on the below components, which will be fine-tuned based on the desk review and initial KIIs:
a. Regulatory context assessment.
i. What preferences and regulation does the Government of Sierra Leone have in terms of design of cash assistance programming? Consider existing government provides social safety nets, approach to unaccompanied minors, legal or administrative requirements for the provision of cash relief.
ii. How can current governmental social protection assistance be incorporated into the cash programming?
b. Market assessments
i. To what extent are markets able to respond to increased demand because of cash programming and to what scale?
ii. Are core basic-need as per the Minimum Expenditure Basket (S/MEB) items available in markets, do vendors have the ability to restock these items, and what barriers or threats exist in supply routes?
iii. Do all household members have access to markets, including PWDs, women, youth, and elderly individuals?
c. Financial service provider mapping and analysis.
i. What payment delivery mechanism would be most appropriate and available? Taking into consideration cash programming delivery mechanisms and service providers used by other agencies
1. Identify potential service providers and gather information on their geographic coverage, fees charged and quality of services offered.
ii. Do FSPs have the ability to scale services? Are there areas that they cannot access, or have less access to?
iii. Do FSPs face liquidity barriers, is this a threat/risk to a cash program?
iv. Do FSPs face any regulatory barriers or low client or donor-confidence?
d. Review and analysis of client needs and preferences.
i. As part of focus group discussions carried out, identify to what extent cash programming would be able to address client needs taking into consideration needs of highly vulnerable populations? Do preferences differ between different groups (IDPs, women, men, elderly, PWDs, youth, etc.)
ii. Will the provision of cash assistance have any positive or negative effects on household and community dynamics (using a conflict sensitive, Do No Harm Lense).
e. Associated risk analysis
i. What are the key risks associated with the provision of cash relief for both clients, non-clients, and markets? Specifically analyzing the potential risks to clients because of cash programming disaggregating by vulnerability status and gender per location and mechanism/modality type.
ii. Specific analysis and possible mitigations for potential risks cash programming poses to clients in the context.
1. Conduct literature review and KIIs to identify gaps in knowledge and determine research questions.
2. Develop assessment tools and design data collection
3. Train assessors and oversee assessments
4. Analyze data and develop a final written report to present main findings and programmatic recommendations
The analysis from this review should be consolidated in a report of no more than 25 pages (excluding annexes), with the following outline:
- Executive summary; 2-3 pages
- Introduction and Background; 1 page
- Purpose, objectives and scope of report; 1 page
- Methodology; 1.5 pages
- Analysis of key findings over the 2 parts of the assessment: 15 pages
- Recommendations for cash implementation in Sierra Leone; 3-4 pages
Timeline and LOE
The review will require 5 days of prep work, up to 3 weeks in-country, and up to 10 days for analysis and writing. The consultant will be responsible for delivering a draft report and ppt. presentation with key findings/ recommendations on by the 15th of September.
Payment Rate and Schedule:
- The expected LoE for the scope of work is 30 working days including days for report revisions and finalization. Travel to Sierra Leone is required.
- The IRC will pay upon approval of all deliverables based on an agreed daily rate for the Consultant.
- The IRC will provide the Consultant with accommodation at an IRC Guest House in Freetown and a hotel in the field.
- The IRC will meet travel costs to Sierra Leone, as needed, including a return economy class flight basis which will be booked by the IRC and will reimburse costs for Visa and COVID-19 tests as necessary.
- The Consultant will meet their own costs for meals and any additional human resource support their will need.
- Extensive experience in conducting similar studies in similar context to Sierra Leone. Experience in CVA programming in Sierra Leone is highly preferred.
- Strong English Communication (written and spoken).
- Adherence to IRC’s safeguarding policies is a must.