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FAQs: REOI Accelerating access to finance for WSMEs using data and technology.

With support from We-Fi, ADFI seeks to accelerate access to finance for women businesses (WSMEs) by leveraging data and technology through a program that will intervene across five (5) countries (Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Mozambique and Nigeria) selected from the five(5) regions across Africa. The program that will be executed in partnership with key institutions, will facilitate the development of responsive digital financial services that will help an estimated 8,000 WSMEs improve their operational efficiency, access to finance, business resilience  and recovery from the impact of COVID-19. The program through the technical support funding from both We-Fi and ADFI seeks to mobilise increased access to credit for WSMEs from the private sector.

To support design and implementation of the program ADFI is launching a request for expressions of interest (REOI) from consulting firms with experience in providing innovative financial services solutions with emphasis on WSMEs.

To provide further information to inform proposal submissions, please see FAQs below.

Please note the EOI submission deadline has been extended to 17 February 2023 to be sent to [email protected].

Expression of interest scope and content

Required content for Expressions of Interest

Submitted Expressions of Interest should include a high level technical and financial proposal of the approach to the project and estimated costs. This is in addition to submission of a summary of relevant experience for the project as indicated in the REOI. For the initial stage, there is no specific format for the submissions.

Estimated travel costs

The Consulting Firm should provide these based on their experienced estimation of an effective mode of implementation.

Scope of work of executing agencies and the implementing agency (i.e., the consultancy)

The scope of work for the executing agency and the implementing agency will overlap. The role of the implementing agency is to support the executing agency and other identified stakeholders effectively implement the project through convening, designing, capacity building and project management.

Estimates of level of effort (days) or budget

At this stage the consulting firm should provide estimates based on their experience and assessment of work required. More detailed financial proposals will be provided by the shortlisted firms.

Possibility for additions and adjustments within methodology and set of activities

Consulting Firm can propose adjustments, if in their experience it would optimise the implementation without compromising the desired outcomes.

Length of Expression of Interest document

The maximum length is 20 pages inclusive of all annexes.

Scope of costs to be included

The financial proposal should encompass consolidated project cost estimates at this stage, with breakdown per activity.


Selection process

A shortlist of firms will be established from the respondents to the REOI and will be invited to provide more detailed technical and financial proposals. The selected firm will have an opportunity to present their proposal and the final scope will be agreed in collaboration with ADFI and other departments within the African Development Bank supporting the project.

Expression of interest: duration of technical and financial proposal

Timing of Phase I and Phase II of project

The project needs to move sequentially from Phase I to Phase II but the timelines for achieving this may slightly differ from country to country.

Duration of project methodology

The methodology should detail both phases and the expectation is the submission of a high-level approach of how the company will achieve the work.

Duration of high level technical and financial proposal

The high level technical and financial proposal should cover the project's 5 year duration. The proposals should however provide details for the first 2 years (Phase I) and subsequent 3 years (Phase II)/costings for the different tasks/stages.

Expression of interest: implementation

Nature and channels for capacity building

The Consulting Firm should propose, with justification, their view of the most effective way to undertake the capacity building. The firm may also propose different options in their proposal.

Scope of continuous project management and partnership coordination phase

The last phase will consist of normal project monitoring activities to ensure that selected partners are delivering according to project plans.

Delivery timelines

Respondents to the REOI can state their view of the estimated time it would take them to undertake the different task/segments of the project. In-depth discussions will be held with shortlisted firms on the optimal timelines noting the time out-lay of the project. 

With regards to partner identification, ADFI and AfDB teams will support the consulting firm with this process especially where they already have relationships or introductions are required – this segment will be approached collaboratively. However, it is the primary responsibility of the consulting firm to identify the partners using criteria that would have been validated by AfDB.


Implementation phasing

The project work will be carried out in parallel in the 5 countries.

Expression of interest: Eligibility of applicant organisations

Eligibility in relation to establishment in 5 countries

The firm does not need to be legally established in the five countries, though it is advantageous to have operations in the countries.


Eligibility of applicant organisations by location

The firm must be legally registered in a country that is a regional or non-regional member of the AfDB.

If this criteria is met and the firm has teams on the ground in a target country but is not legally registered in the said country, the firm would still meet the criteria  of having operations in Africa.

It is not mandatory for a bidding firm to have partners in all target countries or target all countries. However firms with the depth and breadth of experience across the target countries may have an advantage.

Eligibility of consortia located in multiple countries

A Consortium comprising of local and international consulting firms can apply in more than one of the focus countries, as outlined in the Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI). The Consortium lead must be legally registered in a country that is a regional or non-regional member of the AfDB and have operations in the Africa.


Expression of interest: funding

Terms of payment

Payments are made subject to clearance from the AfDB disbursement team that the payee's account is valid and acceptable. However, please note that any such payment would be without prejudice to the consultant’s disclosure and income tax obligations under applicable laws in the country where it is registered.

Partner contribution

Optimally partners are expected to contribute both in kind and in cash to the project, a factor that is also dependent on their role in the program and that will be determined at the partner identification and engagement sessions. However, financial service providers selected will need to support efforts for scale through WSME financing, which may be sourced from the AfDB if they are eligible and subject to the Bank’s processes, through other financiers or from their own internal resources.

Budget per country

The detailed overall budget per country will be determined during country proposal development. At this stage, the consulting firm needs to provide their estimated costs to support the implementation efforts as provided in the REOI based on their understanding of the role and experience.


Scope of funding

The program is structured to blend technical assistance funding to support design, capacity building, project management etc and a small proportion for loan piloting, with debt financing for loans or working capital that will be provided separately to facilitate scale and that will be sourced, depending on eligibility and internal approval processes, from the AfDB, other institutions or even the participating financial service providers themselves (or a combination of both).

Funding for hardware and software

A  key purpose for the collaborative approach across different partners is to potentially leverage their existing solutions that may include hardware and software, taking into consideration potential need for customisation. Requests for additional software will need to be justified and take into account the desired project outcomes and budget.

Scope of funding

The ADFI WSME program is a co-financing between the Women Entrepreneurship Finance Initiative (We-Fi) and ADFI  coupled with debt financing from the private sector. The technical assistance aspects of the funding such as design, training, project management etc also incorporate funding from ADFI. 

Expression of interest: WSMEs

Target reach of WSMEs

The minimum cumulative number for target reach of WSMEs across all five countries is 8,000 over 5 years.

Market size of WSMEs

The WSME definition follows the We-Fi criteria and has also been adopted by the AfDB gender team. The target pool identification, using the required definition, will be done with potential financial service providers in the target countries at the partner identification stage.


Definition of WSMEs

Eligibility criteria will be confirmed during project design which may also factor country specific context and will be decided in consultation with the project strategic stakeholders and defined in the country proposal documents.

The desired definition of WSMEs should be considered to include the criteria that financing is "between USD 5,000 and USD 1 million".

Partner organisations

Financial support for partners

The proportionality of financial support details will be determined at project proposal development based on the role of participating partners and the stakeholder engagement sessions held for which the consulting firm will need to spearhead the development of a business value proposition for the core stakeholders.

More generally, the participating institutions will benefit from the technical assistance that will provide expert support through the contracted consulting firm  for the designing, partnership development and convening, capacity building, go to market planning, project management etc required to support program implementation.  Also where required and subject to AfDB processes and eligibility, AfDB will explore provision of credit lines to the executing institutions to support scale.  

Incentives for partner organisations

There are many incentives for in-country partners. These could include:

- Technical assistance (grant) for the design and development of the DFS solutions that support sustainable solutions for WSMEs

- Advancement of their financial inclusion strategies

- Capacity building on design of innovative WSME solutions

- Possibility for funding for scale to additional WSMEs

-Increase in client base etc.

- Opportunity to participate in an innovative partnership that ensures drives scale through collaboration and mutual reinforcement, etc

Sourcing potential financial institutions

The consulting firm (implementing agency) will primarily be in charge of identifying potential financial institutions (and other partners) and a final list will be agreed with ADFI/AfDB. Key to note that this process will still be collaborative and the AfDB will also propose institutions with which it already has a relationship. the final decision lies with AfDB.

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