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||
|Management Plan and Staffing||
|Geographic Coverage Plan||
|Clean Energy Financing / Carbon Reduction Plan||
|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.