Annual Program Statement 2018

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Annual Program Statement 2018

by Admin

by Admin

Issuance Date: March 14, 2018

Closing Date / Time for Submission of Expressions of Interest: December 27, 2018, at 15h CET

SUBJECT:    Annual Program Statement (APS) Number: APS-2018-01         

The purpose of this APS is to solicit Expressions of Interest (EOIs) and grant applications from qualified, legally registered US and Serbian non-profit, for-profit, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for funding innovative approaches to further advance the objective of USAID Competitiveness Systems Strengthening Activity[1] to eliminate obstacles to Serbia’s competitiveness in order to generate export-led growth, and greater integration with European and global markets.

1. Background

The USAID Competitiveness Systems Strengthening Activity (the Project) is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (“USAID”) and is being implemented by Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd. (“Cardno”). The overall goal of the Project is to establish systemic approaches to strengthening Serbia’s food-processing sector competitiveness to generate export-led growth, and greater integration with European and global markets. This will be achieved by systemically strengthening selected value chains (VC) with a focus on aggregate sales, exports and jobs. The Project will identify gaps in the current competitiveness system and strengthen these systems through capacity development and the facilitation of partnerships among system actors, leveraging these advances to improve productivity and competitiveness.

For this to be achieved, the project will actively seek partnerships with key industry stakeholders to create platforms for exchange and knowledge sharing based on clear, market driven principles, making capacity building an integrated process. While initially focusing on the food processing sector, the Project is expected to result in a model that can eventually be applied more broadly. The selected sub-sectors the project will target are fruits and vegetables (F&V).

2. Objectives and Purpose

The objective of Annual Program Statement is to establish integrated and collaborative models for supporting Serbian processing industry to increase export of F&V processed products.

Results from conducted analyzes by the Project showed that main gaps in competitiveness of fruit and vegetable processing are low integration with high value markets, unconsolidated industry and non-standardized product quality. Applicants to the APS should address some of the issues with end-goal to increase sale and export of processed fruit and vegetables. Special focus should be on products with added value – retail-ready products, fresh products for export, and organic products.

This solicitation is seeking EOIs and applications from eligible organizations that present creative technical approaches and methodologies for supporting the Project’s objectives and results:

  • Market competitiveness of F&V value chains increased;
  • Business support systems coordination strengthened; and
  • Resources for enterprise growth mobilized.

3. Size of Grants

Subject to the availability of funds, the Project intends to award grants to fund eligible applications that advance the Project’s objectives and generate results in support of those objectives. Any awards resulting from this Annual Program Statement (APS) are expected to be in the range as defined below:

  • Micro, small and medium enterprises (including cooperatives), research, academic, training organizations, and NGOs – $10,000 to $50,000;
  • Industry associations and business support organizations – $10,000 – $100,000.

Implementation period of grant activities is maximum one year, and grants will be considered in line with maximum budget allocated for this year.

4. Priority Areas

During 2018, the Project will support activities under the following areas:

I F&V processing industry consolidation

  • Development of strategic plans for expanding export performance of the business support organizations (BSO) for key Serbian export products/crops;
  • Professional staff development for managing BSOs;
  • Market research and promotional efforts in export and domestic markets through organization or participation in trade shows, and B2B events;
  • Technology education and exposure trainings/technology missions; and
  • Linkages to research, scientific or public organizations to secure better supply chain management practices, control of product quality and introduction of new varieties responsive to market opportunities.

If applicants meet the general eligibly requirements under Section 5, qualified bidders should also meet the following criteria:

Business support organizations (BSOs)

  1. Members represent a significant part of Serbian export and/or production in given value chain.
  2. Operate at a national level

II Best practices at the firm level for consolidating supply chains

  • Expanding supplier base amongst micro and small firms, farmers and cooperatives to introduce production standards, facilitate certifications (global GAP and organic standards) and improve market access for micro firms and small holders;
  • Linkages to research, scientific or public organizations in order to secure better supply chain management practices, control of product quality and introduction of new varieties responsive to market opportunities;
  • Building capacities for research and development to create new, rebranded, and innovative products. Implementation of ITC solutions, embedded technologies and other high-tech solutions in production processes; and
  • Linkages to education system for workforce capacity building in the fields of financial management, trade, processing technologies and other relevant support areas.

If applicants meet the general eligibly requirements under Section 5, qualified bidders should also meet the following criteria:

Lead industry firms

  • Primary business area in processing of fruit and vegetables;
  • At least 3 years of continuous business activities in the same field;
  • Recognized as a strong export performer with at least 3,000,000 EUR turnover; exceptional proposals with lower turnover will be considered based on innovation merits.

III Trade promotion:  Improving trade and export service for industry firms

  • Establishing integrated online portals for sale of Serbian products in the market;
  • Provision of market research and diagnostics for the industry; and
  • Promotional events, trade shows and B2B visits for market discovery.

If applicants meet the general eligibly requirements under Section 5, qualified bidders should also meet the following criteria:

Firms, associations, organizations

  • Capacity to provide commercially sustainable export/trade services to firms;
  • Recognized in the industry as a trade facilitator;
  • At least 3 years of continuous business performance in the field preferred.

IV Services innovation:  New products, practices or partnership development

  • Development and deployment of new and innovative technologies, practices or partnerships for assisting firms in product development, workforce, trade or promotion.

If applicants meet the general eligibly requirements under Section 5, qualified bidders should also meet the following criteria:

Research centers, academic organizations, training and service providers

  • Proven track record in designing curricula, delivering training, networking and facilitating technology transfer.
  • Capacity to develop linkages in the industry for introducing new technologies or services for the industry;

As an underlining principle, all applicants should outline how their proposals plan to integrate other service providers to the firms in the activity i.e. how the collaborative networks will be created. In developing the approach and concept for the grant activity, applicants should review the extent to which the proposed grant activity and approach will address the stated problems/issues, further the Project’s objectives described above, and produce verifiable results.

5. Eligibility requirements

This APS is open to legally registered US and Serbian non-profit, for-profit, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Grants will be awarded to the following types of organizations: F&V processing companies, business associations, business service providers, cooperatives, research, and academic organizations, training providers, to carry out tasks to address the critical competitiveness challenges identified under Section 4. “Priority areas”. Eligible organizations must have the capacity to achieve the proposed grant activity and produce the desired results and have a satisfactory performance and integrity records and business ethics.  The Project will award grants that address specific problems and offer practical solutions, encouraging cost-share contributions and an analysis of the sustainability of the grant activities.

Eligible organizations must also adhere to the following requirements:

  • Demonstrate ability, professional competences and qualifications to contribute to the objectives of the Project;
  • Display sound financial, administrative, and technical management capacities to support the achievement of the award’s objectives (i.e. have stable and sufficient sources of finance to maintain the activity throughout the grant period);
  • Maintain double-entry accounting (for private firms);
  • Record net profit in P&L accounts in the previous 2 years;
  • Be legally registered for a minimum of three years. In the event that the newly founded organization is eligible for grant funding, and it proposes an innovative approach to support the achievement of the Project objective, it will be taken into consideration for funding on a case by case basis.
  • Only privately-owned companies/associations/entities

Ineligible organizations include:

  • Entities that have misused USAID funds in the past;
  • Organizations that advocate, promote or espouse anti-democratic policies or illegal activities;
  • Political parties or institutions;
  • Organizations that intend to use the grant for religious objectives;
  • Bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures;
  • Organizations with unsettled debts and due taxes;
  • Found guilty as per final judgment or final administrative decision of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession; and
  • Organizations that are on the list of parties excluded from federal procurement and non-procurement programs or the United Nations Security Sanctions Committee.

Prior to the award of a grant under this APS, successful applicants will be required to sign a Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing certifying that the applicant’s organization does not provide and has never provided assistance to terrorists for terrorist activities. Successful applicants may also be required to sign other Certifications as applicable to the award. The Certifications are attached as Appendix A of this APS.

Prior to the award of a grant under this APS, successful applicants will also be subject to a pre-award responsibility determination, which will be made by the Project. In making this determination, the Project will determine whether the applicant possesses the organizational capacity, financial capacity, internal controls, procurement systems (if required) and past performance record in order to successfully implement the grant activities. Only organizations that are determined to be responsible will be eligible for award.

The applicants are expected to cost share the implementation of the proposed project activities by minimum of 10% of total cost of the project. Grantees are encouraged to make in-kind contributions, however as they do not involve cash expenditures for grantees, it will not be treated as co-financing. ‟In kind” represents investment made in the form of goods and services, rather than in cash.

6. Expressions of Interest and Full Applications

This solicitation will involve a multi-tiered evaluation process.

Expressions of Interest: During the first phase, applicants are required to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) summarizing the proposed grant activity, overall grant goal and objectives, illustrative activities, and expected results. The EOI should clearly and concisely explain the proposed grant activity’s purpose, relevance, activities and expected results in support of the objectives of the Project as set forth in Sections 1 and 2 of this solicitation. All EOIs shall be prepared in English language and be submitted in the Expression of Interest Format included in Appendix B of this solicitation and must not exceed 5 pages.

In addition, applicants shall submit a copy of organization’s Articles of Incorporation or other documentation which substantiates the legal character/registration of the organization (copy of registration from the Business Registry).

EOIs may be submitted to the Project at any time within the closing date and time as specified in this solicitation. Applicants should submit written EOIs to Grants Specialist electronically, via email at konkursi@konkurentno.rs, with reference in e-mail subject: APS-2018-01. The Closing Date for Submission of EOIs is December 27, 2018 and the Closing Time for Submission of EOIs is 15:00h CET. EOIs submitted after this date and time will not be considered under this APS.

The Project will convene a Grants Selection Committee (GSC) that will evaluate EOIs submitted in response to this APS on a rolling basis. EOIs will be evaluated based on the criteria included in Section 5 below. Should an applicant’s EOI be accepted by the GSC, the applicant will be invited to submit a Full Grant Application as detailed below.

Full Grant Application: Upon evaluation of EOIs, the Project will invite organizations that submitted successful EOIs to submit a full grant application based on the concept and technical approach proposed in the EOI. All applications shall be prepared in English language and submitted in the Full Grant Application Format included in Appendix C of this solicitation. The Full Grant Application Format requires applicants to expand in detail on the proposed grant activity, objectives and expected results, including a description of target beneficiaries and stakeholders, a proposed staffing structure, and a detailed grant budget. The Full Grant Application must not exceed 15 pages. Applications in excess of 15 pages may not be reviewed by the Project. In addition to the application, applicants shall submit following supporting documents:

  • Resumes for key proposed staff;
  • Copy of organization’s organizational chart;
  • Copy of organization’s personnel policies and procedures; and
  • Copies of financial reports for the previous 3‑year period.

7. Evaluation and Selection

The Project will convene a Grants Selection Committee (GSC) that will review EOIs submitted in response to this APS on a rolling basis. The GSC will evaluate EOIs based on the following criteria:

  1. Relevance to the Project’s Objectives: Are the proposed grant activity, goals and objectives in line with the objectives of the Activity? Do the proposed grant activity, goals and objectives contribute to the achievement of Activity goals and objectives as set forth in the APS?
  2. Understanding of the Key Issues: Does the applicant demonstrate a clear understanding of the problems/key issues that the proposed grant activity will address?
  3. Grant Activity Goals and Objectives: Is the overall goal of the proposed grant activity clearly stated and achievable? Does the applicant list specific objectives that will contribute to achieving the grant activity’s goal? Are objectives attainable and related to the overall goal? Is it clear how achieving the grant activity’s overall goal and specific objectives will contribute to solving the key issues?
  4. Proposed Tasks Activities: Does the applicant propose specific activities that are logical, realistic, and relevant to the grant activity’s goal? Will the proposed activities have a significant adverse effect on the environment?
  5. Outcomes/Expected Results: Do the expected results of the proposed grant activities relate to the key issues and overall grant objective? Are anticipated results directly linked to a specific objective?
  6. Past Experience: Does the organization have relevant past experience implementing similar activities?

If the GSC accepts the EOI based on the above criteria, the Project will notify the applicant in writing and will invite the organization to submit a full grant application. The deadline for the full grant application will be communicated to the successful applicant upon notification that the EOI has been accepted. The GSC will evaluate the full grant application based on the following evaluation criteria:

  1. Understanding of the Key Issues (20 points): Does the applicant demonstrate a clear understanding of the problems/key issues that the proposed grant activity will address?
  2. Grant Activity Goals and Objectives (10 points): Is the overall goal of the proposed grant activity clearly stated and achievable? Does the applicant list specific objectives that will contribute to achieving the grant’s goal?
  3. Outcomes / Expected Results (10 points): Do the expected results of the proposed grant activities relate to the key issues and overall grant objective? Are anticipated results directly linked to a specific objective? Are the results verifiable?
  4. Proposed Tasks and Activities (10 points): Does the applicant propose specific activities that are logical, realistic, and relevant to the grant activity’s goal? Will the proposed activities have a significant adverse effect on the environment?
  5. Staffing/Management Plan (10 points): Does the proposed staffing/management plan reflect the personnel/management needs of the grant activity? Does the applicant propose personnel with experience and skills necessary to successfully implement the proposed activities?
  6. Past Experience (20 points): Does the organization have relevant past experience successfully implementing similar activities?
  7. Cost Effectiveness (20 points): What resources are provided for the proposed costs? Is the proposed budget realistic, well-thought out, and in-line with the proposed activities? Are the proposed costs reasonable, allowable and allocable to the grant? Is the grantee contributing cost-share?

The Project reserves the right to fund any or none of the applications submitted. Issuance of this APS does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Project, nor does it commit the Project to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of an EOI or application. Further, the Project reserves the right to reject any or all applications received if such action is considered to be in the best interest of the US Government. Applications are submitted at the risk of the applicant; should circumstances prevent making an award, all preparation and submission costs are at the applicant’s expense.

8. Award Administration

Pursuant to 2 CFR 200 Subpart E and 2 CFR 700.13, it is USAID policy not to award profit under assistance instruments. However, all reasonable, allocable and allowable expenses, both direct and indirect, which are related to the grant activity and are in accordance with applicable cost standards (2 CFR 200 Subpart E for non-profit organizations and educational institutions, and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 31 for for-profit organizations, may be paid under the grant.

Any resultant award will be subject to the terms and conditions of the Prime Contract for the USAID Competitiveness Systems Strengthening Activity, for US organizations: 2 CFR 200 and the Standard Provisions for U.S. Non-governmental Recipients; for non-US organizations: Standard Provisions for Non-U.S. Non-governmental Recipients.

Issuance of this APS does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Project or US Government, nor does it commit the Project or US Government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of an application. Further, the Project or US Government reserve the right to reject any or all applications received. All application preparation and submission costs are at the applicant’s expense and risk. Awards are subject to availability of funds.

9. Appendices

A. Certifications, Assurances and Other Statements of Offerors

B. Expression of Interest Format

C. Full Grant Application Format

 

[1] Project’s formal name is “Competitiveness Systems Strengthening (CSS) Activity.” The name of the project for public outreach and communications purposes is USAID Competitive Economy Project.

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