Maximizing Program Impact through Local Sustainability, Part 1 of 2

As with all USAID projects, funding for USAID’s Private Financing Advisory Network-Asia (PFAN-Asia) is time-limited. Generally, these types of projects last between 3-5 years and when funding ends, so too does its activities and associated impact. So, how can a project with a finite lifespan maintain, and even potentially increase its impact over time? The answer lies in designing a project that not only creates immediate impact, but also plans for a future in which donor funding is no longer available.

Achieving long-term sustainability has been an integral part of PFAN-Asia since its inception, and SSG Advisors has been leading the effort to identify and prepare a local organization to carry on core PFAN-Asia activities on a sustainable basis. The chosen organization will also have the opportunity to potentially receive funding from USAID, as well as receive capacity-building and other support from PFAN-Asia to improve its overall capabilities. Over the past year, SSG has made significant progress on these objectives by engaging with a broad array of past and present stakeholders, gathering input and feedback from the clean energy financial advisory community in Southeast Asia, and establishing a firm understanding on the metrics for success.

In this first part of a two-part post, we will explore how SSG developed a transparent and equitable approach to selecting a local organization. The second part will then focus on detailing how SSG is working with the selected organization to prepare it for a potential award from USAID and, ultimately, assuming responsibility of operating PFAN-Asia.

Stage 1: Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI)

SSG designed a 2-stage tender process, consisting of a REOI and RFP, to open up the PFAN-Asia opportunity to as many interested organizations as possible. This approach allowed the greatest possible diversity of technical expertise, management capacity, and geographic reach, while achieving milestones against a tight timetable. The first stage, the REOI, was released publicly in September 2014, and promoted through multiple channels, including:

  • Direct Outreach – SSG sent the REOI document directly to organizations that the project had previously identified as possessing a like-minded mandate and requisite capacity to operate PFAN-Asia.
  • Network Outreach – SSG also shared the document with PFAN-Asia’s extensive network of contacts including PFAN mentors, clean energy investors, project developers, and development partners.
  • Public Outreach – By using the online development procurement portals DGMarket, Devex, and Collaboration for Development; the CTI PFAN website; and social media outlets such as LinkedIn and Facebook, SSG also promoted the REOI’s visibility in the broader clean energy finance marketplace.

By the time the REOI window closed in October 2014, 25 organizations had submitted their interest in becoming the future operator of PFAN-Asia. The organizations came from throughout the 12 PFAN-Asia countries, and offered deep expertise in clean energy finance across the region. SSG developed a structured evaluation process in order for multiple stakeholders to participate equitably in the evaluation of the EOIs. The scoring tool asked evaluators to score each EOI along each of the scoring dimensions below:

  • Organizational History and Status –the history of the organization, areas of expertise, core services, brief financial information (including annual revenues or budget), and a brief overview of organizational strategy;
  • Experience in Arranging Clean Energy Financing and Networking – Current and past experience in mobilizing financing, with particular emphasis on clean and renewable energy, and on serving small to mid-sized projects (size range from $1 million -50 million). Experience in running a network;
  • Organizational Reach – Geographic reach and experience, including domestic scope, regional work, and prior and current partnerships or activities within the PFAN-Asia Countries;
  • Organizational Governance and Structure – Governance and management structures, reporting and evaluation policies, and human resources profile;
  • Technical Staff – Information about current staff with relevant expertise in clean energy technology, SME business development, consulting, and finance and investment; and
  • Approach – Proposed approach for the implementation of PFAN activities in Asia, which may include primary operating model(s), priority activities, and high-level plans for achieving sustainability.

Independent scoring of the EOIs by each of the evaluators demonstrated a sound consensus for a shortlist of five organizations that scored significantly higher than the rest of the applicant pool.

Stage 2: Request for Proposals (RFP)

Following the completion of the REOI process, SSG released the Local Partner Selection RFP to the five shortlisted Offerors identified in January 2015. In response to the RFP, PFAN-Asia received four proposals, with two of the five shortlisted bidders combining their efforts into a single submission. Proposals were, once again, reviewed and scored by the evaluation committee using criteria originally developed during the REOI process and then further refined for the RFP to include additional guidelines that established key factors for consideration. Evaluators individually scored each proposal across the following six criteria:

Table 1: RFP Evaluation Criteria

Criteria Scoring Guidelines / Factors Maximum Points
Organizational Capability and Track Record
  • History of the organization, it’s core capabilities/areas of expertise
  • Current and previous successes in facilitating investment for clean energy projects and businesses
  • Range and types of clients targeted and served, and the degree to which this overlaps with CTI-PFAN’s intended beneficiaries
  • Expected ability to meet USAID financial management, accounting and record-keeping requirements, including past work with international donors with similar requirements
Management Plan and Staffing
  • Organizational structure and approach to managing and implementing PFAN-Asia
  • Strength of proposed staff for key personnel roles, based on experience and profile
  • Strength of overall team, including complementary skills of key personnel, quality of other personnel consistent with overall management/staffing plan, and planned levels of women’s participation within the organization
Sustainability Plan
  • Viability of proposed approach, including quality of revenue streams, links to market projections, and resulting near-term and long-term sustainability projections
  • Creativity in approaches to serving the market on a sustainability
  • Degree to which the plan aligns with CTI-PFAN’s broader strategy in the region
  • Specific efforts to address gender by increasing women’s involvement in clean energy activities
Geographic Coverage Plan
  • Quality and realism of proposed strategy to provide services throughout the region, including use of existing PFAN network assets and resources
Clean Energy Financing / Carbon Reduction Plan
  • Quality and realism of proposed approach to maximize clean energy finance mobilization and carbon reduction impact
  • Effectiveness, as measured by anticipated clean energy finance mobilization and carbon reduction over next 3-years
Maximum possible points 100

Following an initial review of the proposals, the evaluation committee convened for a detailed discussion on each of the applicants. During this discussion, the members of the evaluation committee took turns leading the group, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of the proposals along each of the scoring dimensions. After the meeting adjourned, committee members individually finalized and submitted their scores to SSG. The winning organization was then determined based on highest overall average points received in April 2015.

Coming up in Part 2: Preparing the local organization to operate PFAN-Asia on a sustainable basis

With the winning organization selected, SSG is now beginning to shift its focus on the next phase of activities, which includes:

  • Organizational Capacity Building: In order to qualify for potential funding from USAID, the winning organization must demonstrate rigorous and transparent business operations by successfully passing the Non-US Pre-Award Survey (NUPAS). Over the next 6 months, SSG will work closely with the winner on assessing and improving its organizational capacity, with the objective of passing the NUPAS in 2nd quarter of 2016.
  • Sustainable Operations: The objective of Task 3 is not only to handover the operations of the PFAN-Asia to the local operator, but to do so on a sustainable basis. In support of this objective, SSG will help the winning organization develop a long-term business plan that will ensure PFAN-Asia can continue to positively impact clean energy financing in the region for years to come.

Stay tuned for an update on these activities in the second part of this series in the 2nd quarter of 2016.

SSG’s Partnership to Advance Internet Connectivity Promotes Sustainable Fishing, Saves Lives, and Wins Prestigious Award

SSG Advisors P3 Award

New York, NY – Current and former heads of state, Fortune 500 CEOs, and other global leaders gathered in New York on Friday at the Concordia Summit to celebrate this year’s winner of the Public-Private Partnership (P3) Impact Award. This year, the award was given to the TV White Space Partnership, an innovative partnership between Microsoft, the Government of the Philippines and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), facilitated by SSG Advisors. Vice President Joseph Biden attended the Summit, and Secretary of State John Kerry offered his congratulations to Microsoft, USAID, and the Philippine Government for their tremendous impact in improving livelihoods and the management of coastal fisheries in the Philippines.

“That’s the very definition of paying it forward, and it is giving new life to the old saying ‘teach a person to fish,’” said Kerry, as he announced the winning partnership.

The TVWS Partnership improved the lives of fisherfolk and the management of coastal fisheries in the Philippines by extending Internet access to remote and underserved coastal communities, reaching over 20,000 people. The Partnership deployed Microsoft’s TVWS technology, which generates a long-range wireless Internet connection by riding empty television UHF and VHF broadcast channels. Together, the partners connected schools and community centers in six remote municipalities to the Internet via TVWS.

TVWS helped support a new mobile online system to register fisherfolk in hundreds of rural communities, improving fisheries management. This system enables the government to better understand who is fishing where and, as a result, to better manage precious and threatened fish stocks. Thanks to this project, the Government of the Philippines has now incorporated TVWS as a key element of its universal broadband access strategy.

The TVWS hubs also saved lives: when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the pilot region in October 2013, TV White Space was the only means of Internet connection and communication for relief workers and communities. It helped coordinate the relief effort, and it allowed victims to contact loved ones.

SSG Advisors, through its Sustainable Transparent Effective Partnerships (STEP) methodology, developed the TVWS partnership concept, brought the partners together, and facilitated the partnership during implementation.

“This partnership demonstrates the power of collaboration for solving some of the world’s most complex problems,” said Nazgul Abdrazakova, founder and President of SSG. “By forging connections between companies, governments, and communities, and by promoting innovative applications of existing technologies, we can deliver tremendous benefit to communities across the world.”

The award was announced at the Concordia Summit in New York City on October 2.

About SSG Advisors:

Founded in 2005, SSG Advisors LLC is an international development consulting firm based in Vermont with a global presence. This firm of innovative professionals is focused on harnessing the power of collaboration among companies, communities, and governments to address development challenges. SSG Advisors offers solutions that leverage the combined power of private investments and public initiatives to change lives. Since its founding, SSG has helped clients build and manage effective collaborations in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, where it has worked to tackle development challenges related to citizen security, economic growth in conflict-affected regions, enterprise development, workforce development, ICT, and climate-smart development.

About the P3 Impact Award:

Concordia, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society, and the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships created the P3 Impact Award to recognize public-private partnerships (P3s) that are changing our world in innovative and impactful ways.

When a ‘moonshot’ is not enough: uncovering the real challenges to bringing the world online

Internet Booth in South Africa

Vodacom Container store offering internet in Joe Slovo Park, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Victor Grigas.

In a recent article in WIRED, journalist Klint Finley addressed the approaches that businesses and governments are taking to extending Internet connectivity to the majority of the world that still lacks it. He points out that while high-profile efforts like Facebook’s drones, OneWeb’s low-earth orbit satellites, and Google’s Loon balloons have drawn attention for their cool technology and ambitious visions for blanketing the world with high-speed Internet from above, the bulk of growth in connectivity is due to decidedly “old-fashioned” techniques: stretching new fiber optic cable across the world’s oceans and land masses, building towers, and using the wireless, mobile, and landline networks to connect to the end user.

The reality, however, is that, while technological infrastructure is central to the Internet’s growth, it is rarely the decisive factor. Rather, regardless of approach, almost every Internet expansion initiative must wrestle with three core factors: the business model, the legal and regulatory context, and the interests of incumbent players.

  • Internet providers need to lower costs and find new revenue sources in order to reach low-income populations. This will often mean finding new applications for low-cost technologies, sharing core network infrastructure with other providers, and developing alternative revenue sources from advertising and value-added services.
  • Favorable laws and regulations – and governments that fairly and reliably enforce them – are critical to the success of the global network. Despite its digital face, the Internet has a substantial footprint in the physical world. Towers, cables, internet exchange points, wireless spectrum, and data centers all in turn require licensing, right of way permits, and enforceable contracts.
  • Not everyone wants change – entrenched interests can be some of the biggest obstacles to new approaches that increase competition and drive down costs. Local government and incumbent telecommunications operators may have strong incentives to maintain the status quo and/or limit competition.

Bringing the next three billion online is an ambitious, but achievable goal. While ‘moonshot’ efforts such as Project Loon and others are important for pushing the bounds of technology, it is critical that companies, investors, and governments also focus on the business models, infrastructure, and enabling environment factors that shape the marketplace.

Wastewater Solutions: Partnerships for Sustainability in the Mara-Serengeti

Mara Partnership

The Mara Serengeti Hoteliers and the partners after Signing the Resource Efficiency Partnership

On September 15th, the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, and other government officials gathered alongside members from a number of industries on the edge of the Mara River as part of the Mara Day celebration – an annual event shared between Kenya and Tanzania devoted to protecting the natural beauty and resources of the Mara River region.

This year’s Mara Day marked an exciting milestone. For the first time, Kenya and Tanzania signed an agreement ensuring that both countries will sustainably co-manage the Mara ecosystem. This inter-governmental commitment demonstrates a prominent level of engagement for sustainability efforts in the area. Meanwhile, members of a new public-private partnership signed and agreed to address some of the difficulties associated with water pollution in the Mara-Serengeti region. The partners included the Mara-Serengeti Hoteliers Forum (MSHF), the multi-national chemicals manufacturing company BASF, the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), the Kenya National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), and the Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) of the Lake Victoria Region.

The partnership declared at Mara Day is a result of  SSG Advisors’ private sector mapping work, carried out as part of the USAID Kenya and East Africa Planning for Resilience in East Africa through Policy, Adaption, Research and Economic Development (PREPARED) project, with the continued efforts of Polycarp Ngoje, PREPARED’s Partnership Specialist. In describing the level of effort and cultivation needed to get partners on board, SSG’s Director Thomas Buck noted, “This partnership has been over a year in the making, and has really started to take shape in the past 4-5 months.”

Through intense collaboration and the utilization of a diverse multi-sectoral set of skills and assets, the partnership will be instrumental in addressing and improving resource efficiency challenges and practices throughout the Mara-Serengeti region. By providing technical assistance through assessments and management guidance to hospitality operations in the area, the impact of BASF’s involvement will be two-fold: lowering operating costs and establishing sustainable wastewater practices. The result will be a cleaner and healthier ecosystem, sustaining the natural beauty of the region.

The partnership has already set goals for the first year. During the upcoming months, the partners plan to establish a measurable breakdown of how to achieve the reduced effects of wastewater in the Mara. In addition to forming a quantitative, results-driven analysis, the partnership also aims to facilitate a noticeable increase in the use of green technology and innovation practices. Lastly, within a year from now, the group intends to identify and institutionalize a set of actionable wastewater practices – management models and technological innovations – intended to become the industry standard in the area.

UN SDGs: A Roadmap for Corporate Strategy in Frontier Markets?


Harvesting grain by combine harvester, Limpopo, South Africa. Photo by NJR ZA

As China continues to slow, companies and investors are facing a major challenge: where will the next big growth opportunity emerge? While the US has recovered from the recession, growth remains sluggish and uneven. Japan and the EU face substantial demographic and structural economic problems that will inhibit growth for decades. Other large economies, such as Brazil and Russia remain overly dependent on commodity prices, which may take many years to recover. With both the G7 and BRIC economies in the slow lane for the foreseeable future, frontier markets, such as Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines and Columbia appear increasingly attractive with strong economic growth and growing numbers of middle class consumers.

As companies and investors increasingly look to frontier markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America for markets and growth opportunities, they face a much more complex and diverse environment than China in the 90s and 2000s. Frontier market countries, while having great potential for growth, face significant barriers – policy, infrastructure- physical and social – that must be addressed. In addition, many of these markets are starting to be severely affected by climate change. Put simply, if these challenges are not addressed, opportunities for growth will be severely limited or simply non-existent.

Here, the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (so-called SDGs) provide a potential roadmap for companies and investors looking to grow in frontier markets. The 17 goals cover a wide range of health, economic, environmental issues. The SDGs represent more than a mere declaration of intent by governments and activists; they are a roadmap highlighting where companies and investors need to focus to secure growth opportunities in frontier markets. The SDGs give corporate and investment strategists a menu of options for tailoring strategy to meet the growth opportunity in emerging markets.

A few leading companies are already adopting this approach. For example, John Deere has re-tooled its entire Africa strategy around raising the incomes of small hold farmers. By growing farmer incomes (SDG 2) and developing innovative approaches to equipment financing, John Deere is seeking to grow its potential customer base beyond large-scale commercial farming. Technology services company Itron is piloting a new water efficiency partnership model in East Africa that will enable municipalities to reduce non-revenue water loss by 40% or more. Addressing non-revenue water both improves water management (SDG 6), but also creates a market for Itron products and services in Africa. By realigning their marketing and operations strategies, these companies are leveraging their corporate strengths to both grow their future markets and address critical social, economic and environmental needs in frontier markets.

With mature markets and the BRIC economies struggling, investors and companies must better understand both the challenges and opportunities of frontier markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The UN SDGs provide multinationals and investors with a critical starting point in developing frontier market strategy. By aligning elements of strategy with the SDGs, companies and investors can begin to unlock the growth opportunities in these dynamic, but challenging markets.

Innovative TV White Space Public-Private Partnership Nominated for the P3 Impact Award

SSG Advisors is pleased to announce that the TV White Space (TVWS) Partnership in the Philippines has been nominated for the P3 Impact Award. This prestigious award – a joint effort of Concordia, the State Department, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business – is announced each year in the beginning of October at the Concordia Summit in New York City.

The TVWS partnership is a unique collaboration between Microsoft, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) ECOFISH project, and the Government of the Philippines to improve the lives of fisherfolk and the management of coastal fisheries in the Philippines by extending Internet access to remote and underserved coastal communities. The partnership deployed Microsoft’s TVWS technology, which generates an amplified wireless Internet connection by riding empty television UHF and VHF broadcast channels. Together, the partners connected schools and community centers in six remote municipalities to the Internet via TVWS, extending free Internet to over 20,000 people. The TVWS Untitledpartnership was also designed specifically to improve fisheries management: TVWS helped support a new mobile, online system to register fisherfolk in hundreds of rural communities. This system enables the government to better understand who is fishing where and, as a result, to better manage precious and threatened fish stocks. Importantly, the Government of the Philippines has now incorporated TVWS as a key element of its universal broadband access strategy.

SSG Advisors, through its Sustainable Transparent Effective Partnerships (STEP) methodology, developed the TVWS partnership concept, brought the partners together, and facilitated the partnership during implementation.

Today, the TVWS partnership has been recognized as one of five finalists for the P3 Impact Award. The award honors outstanding examples of public-private partnerships that have improved lives and communities around the world, and it recognizes best practices in the public-private partnership arena.

The winner will be announced at the Concordia Summit on October 1-2. Keep your fingers crossed for SSG Advisors, the TVWS partnership, and our partners!


SSG Advisors Media Contact:
Tess Zakaras, 802-735-1169
[email protected]

Countering Violent Extremism: How the Latin American Experience in Violence Prevention Can Inform the Development Response to Violent Extremism in the Middle East and Beyond

By Ned Littlefield and Natalie Shemwell

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in Washington, DC, February 2015 (Courtesy Joshua Roberts/Reuters).

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in Washington, DC, February 2015 (Courtesy Joshua Roberts/Reuters).

At a recent White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, President Obama framed the challenge facing the global community: ‘When people — especially young people — feel entirely trapped in impoverished communities, where there is no order and no path for advancement, where there are no educational opportunities, where there are no ways to support families, and no escape from injustice and the humiliations of corruption — that feeds instability and disorder, and makes those communities ripe for extremist recruitment.”

The President’s focus has helped bring the issue of violent extremism (VE) to the fore, and it also highlights the complex, systemic, multi-faceted root causes of the allure of extremism. Although it is growing, the body of evidence regarding what works and what does not in countering violent extremism (CVE) programming in developing countries remains limited. Here, it may be possible to draw some insights from other contexts. In particular, the experience of Latin America in addressing the scourge of gang violence and particularly gang recruitment may offer some parallels to the challenges facing governments, donors, and civil society groups in the Middle East and beyond as they grapple with the role development assistance can play in CVE.

There are a number of specific political, economic, and social factors, as well as particular group dynamics and socio-psychological processes that are likely to generate or increase individual and community vulnerability to VE. Social marginalization, the search for meaning and identity, and lack of viable alternatives can be manipulated into recruitment tactics on vulnerable youth by both gangs and violent extremist organizations. Similarly, many of the factors enhancing resiliency to violent extremism appear similar to those that strengthen community resiliency to crime and gang violence. These factors include a shared collective identity or purpose, strengthened social ties, inclusive education and economic systems, and a sense of efficacy by youth.

While CVE programs are relatively new, development agencies have a considerable body of evidence regarding what works and what does not in violence prevention in Latin America. For example, an impact evaluation presented by Vanderbilt University’s Latin America Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) in October 2014 demonstrates that a community-based approach to crime and violence prevention in Central America, which “integrates education and workforce development, economic growth and employment, public health, and governance interventions”, has produced “a significant reduction in the expected level of crime victimization and violence,” as well as a reduction in gang-related problems in treatment communities.[1] According to SSG Senior Associate Kristen Sample, “Governments and donors have more than two decades of experience in violence prevention programs in Central America and Colombia. These programs demonstrate the importance of coordinated action on the part of critical stakeholders – local governments, international donors, and US agencies – to help achieve a collective impact.”

The knowledge and experience gained in Latin America is highly relevant to those involved in CVE work. “There are only a handful of CVE programs around the world, so the body of knowledge within the development community is extremely limited. Therefore, it is critical that those of us working on programs to prevent and counter violent extremism build on the best practices and lessons learned from the Latin America experience,” says Jen Heeg, SSG Senior Associate and an expert on violent extremism in the Middle East.

A growing body of evidence suggests that ideology is just one of many tactics employed by violent extremist organizations in their recruitment – similar to Latin American gang recruitment, youth may be driven to join VE groups out of a sense of marginalization, injustice, and desire to belong. These similarities deserve further attention in the analysis, programming, and evaluation phases of CVE work.

The phenomenon of violent extremism is not static – it is constantly evolving. As governments, donors and civil society groups in the Middle East and elsewhere increasingly focus on developing CVE programs to meet this evolving ever-changing challenge, it is essential that practitioners draw upon the wealth of knowledge and experience garnered in Latin America.


[1] Impact Evaluation of USAID’s Community-Based Crime and Violence Prevention Approach in Central America: Regional Report for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama, 2014, Latin American Public Opinion Project

Leveraging Tourism for Conservation in the Mara-Serengeti

By Tom Buck and Marissa KimseyVersion 2

The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem in Kenya and Tanzania is recognized worldwide for its size and biodiversity.
Spanning an area larger than Jamaica, the Tanzanian Serengeti National Park provides critical sanctuary for the greatest number of plains game in Africa, including two million wildebeest, half a million Thomson’s gazelle, and a quarter of a million zebra. Each year, the ecosystem hosts the largest mammal migration in the world, with vast numbers of wildebeest and zebra crossing the Mara River from Tanzania to Kenya in search of relief from the dry season to the south. The landscape also provides an important hub for the conservation economies of both countries, with several hundred thousand visitors crossing park borders each year. [1]

Despite its importance to both countries’ economies and its protected status, the Serengeti and larger Mara River Basin face acute challenges related to human development. In Tanzania, issues such as population growth, overgrazing, and game poaching have weakened the environmental integrity of neighboring buffer zones designed to protect the park.[2] In Kenya, overdevelopment of the tourism sector has led to a spike in lodges, camps. and tour operators – only 29% of them legal. Bed numbers have more than tripled since 2003.[3] While recent insecurity has slowed the unchecked growth of tourism, the specter of tourism expansion remains in place in the Mara National Reserve. The health of the Mara-Serengeti landscape depends on improved management of human encroachments and development pressures.

In May, SSG Advisors conducted an assessment in Tanzania and Kenya in order to identify strategic public-private partnership opportunities addressing management concerns in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. Our team interviewed dozens of tourism companies and related stakeholders, a large majority of which recognized the threats to conservation posed by unchecked human development and ever-growing crowds of tourists. Many companies also acknowledged the need to bring surrounding communities into the economy of the park in viable ways, encouraging a shift from ‘use and abuse’ towards sustainable integration into tourism value chains, but also in a way that would relieve business pressures. One potential area of focus addressed the challenge of lodges and operators shipping much of their food over vast distances, which Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 12.44.09 PMleads to spoilage and high transportation costs. These businesses were eager to shorten supply chains by working with horticulture and livestock farmers in buffer communities closer to their operations. They were also keen to procure services such as laundering, car repair, and others from local communities as much as possible.

Recognizing the challenge, the regional governments and conservation organizations can work closely with tourism operators to provide pathways for communities to become more deeply involved with solutions to landscape management issues. Without benefiting directly from the conserved areas, local citizens will not be actively involved in their protection.

In the coming months, SSG plans to engage with identified partners in the private sector, communities, and government in order to delineate the partnership details.



SSG Advisors and Tetra Tech Launch Mentor-Protégé Agreement


SSG President Nazgul Abdrazaokova and President of Tetra Tech International, Jan Auman, launch a USAID Mentor-Protégé Agreement.

SSG Advisors is pleased to announce that we have launched a USAID Mentor-Protégé Agreement with Tetra Tech, a NASDAQ-traded consulting and engineering firm with 13,000 employees worldwide. Under the Mentor-Protégé Agreement, Tetra Tech will provide class-leading insight on operations, financial management, and strategy.

According to SSG President Nazgul Abdrazaokova, “Tetra Tech is one of the most experienced and capable organizations in international development today. Based on our shared Vermont roots, SSG and Tetra Tech have a long history of collaboration. We are currently implementing projects together in the Philippines, East Africa, and Afghanistan. Through the Mentor-Protégé Agreement, we will benefit from Tetra Tech’s deep expertise and systems in managing complex development projects and activities.   We are grateful to the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business (OSDBU) for championing the mentor-protégé program and look forward to making this agreement a success for SSG, Tetra Tech, and USAID.”

Scaling Pilots through Partnership

By Steve Schmida

At a recent press conference, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) of the Philippines announced its plans to scale upTWS BOOTH 2mx2m_final[1] the use of TV White Space (TVWS) Technology to deliver free broadband access via municipalities across the archipelago nation of 94 million. The $31 million initiative comes as a direct result of the TVWS public-private partnership (PPP) between DOST, Microsoft, and the USAID ECOFISH project, which piloted the technology over the last 18 months in several remote coastal communities. How did a PPP of a total dollar value of less than $1 million achieve such scale?

Scale is a buzzword in international development today, but few understand how to achieve it. At SSG, we see partnerships as a key tool in achieving scale and we often design our partnerships with scale in mind. Because PPPs share risks, they often allow partners to experiment and pilot new technologies and methodologies that partners could not attempt on their own.

What are the attributes of a good scaling PPP?

  • Institutional capability and mandate in at least one partner. Whether it is public sector or private sector, there needs to be at least one partner in the PPP that has the capacity and the will to scale the partnership. Here, DOST has the role of leveraging technology for development across the Philippines.
  • Strong incentives. These can be market-based or even political. In the case of the Philippines, DOST is in charge of the government pledge to deliver broadband across the nation. Thus, it had a very strong incentive to move forward in scaling. In other cases, such as our Non-Revenue Water PPP, it is the private sector partner that has the incentive to scale into a new market segment.
  • The right pilot gathering the right data. To borrow the old tech database adage, ‘Garbage in = Garbage out.’ Thus, it is critical that pilot efforts are selected carefully, so that they can make a clear case for scaling. In addition, gathering the right data from those pilots is equally critical. In the case of the TVWS partnership, the team was able to demonstrate how broadband access in remote municipalities dramatically improved government service delivery.

In the case of the Philippines, the partners invested considerable time on the front end of the partnership sorting out these issues, rather than rushing forward without a solid foundation on how the partnership could eventually scale. By embedding partnerships with strong fundamentals, partners can leverage small scale PPPs to achieve that most illusive of results: scale.