Funding Opportunity Title: WEAmericas Small Grants Initiative
Announcement Type: Open Competition
Deadline for submission of proposals: August 20, 2012 11:59PM EDT
Federal Agency Contact: Sandrine Rukundo
PLEASE NOTE: The RFA has been modified. Applicants no longer need to submit applications via Grants.gov; please send applications directly to WEAmericas@state.gov. Please note that a complete application consists of the following (which are described in further detail in Sections IX and X of this document) Required Elements:
SF-424, SF-424A, SF-424B
Resumes or CVs of key personnel who will be working on the proposed project
Letters of commitment from partners, if applicable
Copy of the applicant’s Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) with the U.S. government, if applicable (required for any organization submitting a budget with indirect costs)
Organization’s most recent annual report, if available
Audits, if available
I. Funding Opportunity: The purpose of this announcement is to provide information about funding opportunities through the WEAmericas Small Grants Initiative. These funding opportunities will be distributed in the form of grants.
Organizations that submit applications in response to this request for applications (RFA) announcement acknowledge and accept all of the requirements contained herein. This announcement serves as public notice to selected interested parties to have equal opportunity to submit project proposals for funding consideration. All submissions in response to this announcement are voluntary and do not obligate the Department of State to fund any proposal or proposal preparation costs.
II. Background Information: Evidence from developed and developing economies has shown that increased economic participation of women will generate faster and more equitable income growth, create greater business opportunities, and enhance competitiveness for firms and economies by facilitating innovative thinking and fuller use of a significant resource. Higher incomes for women have also proven to have significant positive impact on health and education outcomes for households, improving overall welfare and bolstering future gains in productivity and inclusive growth.
However, women-owned businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) face numerous barriers that impede their growth and success. These include a lack of:
Access to skills and capacity building: including training, technical assistance, information, and technology;
Access to assets: including finance, land, technology, and human resources;
Access to markets, both domestic and international: including networks in the form of business associations and broader industry or regional business organizations; and
Visibility of women’s leadership: including validation or visibility as women entrepreneurs, role models, and mentors.
The Department of State and the Walmart Foundation have created a partnership that will address the needs of women entrepreneurs by strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem in which they operate. One component of the partnership identified and brought a select number of women-owned small and medium sized enterprises (SME) leaders from throughout the LAC region to the United States for training on growing their businesses, advocating for improved national business climates, and expanding businesswomen’s networks. This component facilitated the creation of two networks: the Caribbean Women’s Entrepreneurship Network and the WEAmericas Network.
During this time the networks of women were made aware of the WEAmericas Small Grants Initiative. This second component, outlined in this funding opportunity, seeks to build on the creation of these networks, expand and link existing networks, and provide additional support where needed to enhance the ecosystem for women-owned businesses and entrepreneurship in the Americas.
III. Program Objective:
As mentioned in Section II, women-owned businesses in LAC face numerous barriers that impede growth and success. With funding from the Walmart Foundation, the WEAmericas Small Grants Initiative will support the needs of women across the economic spectrum and throughout the LAC region. The initiative is a key way to promote the Secretary of State’s commitment to increasing women’s economic inclusion around the globe as a critical component for economic growth. The particular focus on furthering economic opportunities for rural and indigenous women, and on systems to support women’s entrepreneurship throughout the LAC region, is intended to build greater social and economic security and improve lives.
The ultimate goal of the small grants is to support women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs at the micro, SME, and high growth potential levels. The grants will focus on increasing necessary infrastructure to support and encourage a women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, including but not limited to:
Improving access to skills and capacity building such as business training programs, supply chain development, mechanisms to assist in advocating for improved business climates, incubators, or accelerator programs;
Improving access to capital: which could include building an angel investor and venture capital culture, expanding innovative financing models with lending institutions, or ensuring that women entrepreneurs are aware of and connect with financing options;
Improving access to markets, which could include: creating linkages to SME specific trade and export hubs, providing trade facilitation services, assisting with the development of aggregators, providing mechanisms to connect with large scale domestic or international buyers, or business certification to meet international standards such as labor, supply chain, market readiness, or women-owned.
Improving the visibility of and confidence of women entrepreneurs.
IV. Eligibility: This announcement is intended for non-profit and/or non-governmental organizations with offices in the LAC region or for-profit social enterprises that are from and/or have a presence in the LAC region. US groups and enterprises are eligible for this award; however, funds may only be obligated and spent on offices within the selected implementing LAC country for this initiative.
LAC Countries: This initiative is only for projects implemented in the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
V. Program Criteria:
The program targets qualified organizations who have demonstrated success in creating or strengthening an entrepreneurial ecosystem through 1) micro and SME development, 2) strengthening and building women-owned business networks, or 3) creating necessary linkages between micro, SMEs, and large scale buyers taking all components of the value chain into consideration. The following points outline the program being sought.
In the project proposal, applicants must describe how their project will respond to and address at least two barriers to women’s entrepreneurship, with the overall goal of strengthening the ecosystem for women’s entrepreneurship by linking resources and creating greater regional support and awareness.
Examples of potential programs could include 1) programs that link existing universities, government programs, and NGO services to a greater number of women-owned micro and SMEs, especially those in rural or indigenous areas; 2) establishing incubator or accelerator programs, which include angel investors, venture capitalists, and business development training; 3) conducting outreach to large scale public and private sector buyers on how to source from women entrepreneurs, while simultaneously developing a program that helps women entrepreneurs meet the needs of the buyers; 4) developing programs that help micro-entrepreneurs either aggregate their goods in the form of cooperatives or graduate to the SME level, while simultaneously conducting training and outreach to SMEs and large scale private and public sector buyers on how to locate and source from cooperatives; 5) creating greater linkages and access to resources concerning training, trade, permits, and international standards; or 6) supporting the development of region-wide women entrepreneur networks, assisting them in developing training programs and services to grow their businesses, and ensuring that they are connected to existing domestic, regional, and international trade information.
In the selection of two barriers to address, examples include:
Access to Skills and Capacity Building – Examples could include facilitating trainings, providing technical assistance, expanding access to existing information, and increasing access to technology. In particular there should be a focus on micro and SME development.
Access to Assets – Examples could include programs, tools, and training to improve access to finance, capital, land, technology, and/or human resources.
Access to Markets – This includes both domestic and international markets. Examples could include improving communication and awareness of what buyers want, establishing and providing certifications necessary to sell to greater markets, or value chain improvements.
Access to Networks – Examples could include establishing or strengthening networks both in the form of business associations and broader industry or regional business organizations. This may include working with the recently established WEAmericas Network and/or the Caribbean Women Entrepreneurs Network mentioned in Section II.
Women’s Leadership – Examples could include programs to promote, acknowledge, and highlight women entrepreneurs’ contributions to society, programs that focus on strengthening women-owned business as leaders in local business communities or as strong advocates for business environment improvements, or programs that highlight women entrepreneurs as role models for society.
Projects must focus on the well-being of women and girls. Both male and female applicants are encouraged to apply; however the ultimate beneficiaries of the project must be women-owned businesses, and in that sense, society as a whole.
VI. Funding Restrictions:
Per 22 CFR 145.25 (b) please note the following guidance concerning use of Program Income:
Program income earned during the project period shall be retained by the recipient and, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award, shall be used in one or more of the ways listed in the following:
Added to funds committed to the project by the Department and recipient and used to further eligible project or program objectives.
Used to finance the non-Federal share of the project or program.
Deducted from the total project or program allowable cost in determining the net allowable costs on which the Federal share of costs is based.
It is emphasized, however, that the above three alternatives are applicable only when the grantee is a non-profit entity. Any grant to a commercial firm must state that the first of the alternatives is not available for program income earned by the grantee. As explained by (GAO noted in its Principles of Federal Appropriations Law at 10-57, that "This approach [option (1)] increases program size. Both OMB and GAO have expressed preference for the deduction method [option (3)] since it results in savings to the federal government and to grantees.")
The following cost elements will not be reimbursed and are not allowable in this program:
Direct support or the appearance of direct support for individual or single party electoral campaigns.
Direct support or the appearance of direct support for any religious organization, to include repair or building of structures used for religious purposes.
Military or law enforcement assistance of any kind, including weapons buy back or rewards programs.
Purchase of firearms, ammunition, or removal of unexploded ordnances.
Police, para-police (i.e., militias, neighborhood watch, security guards) and prison-related projects of any kind. This restriction includes no funding of any secondary need in a law-enforcement organization.
Payments for any host government, military, or civilian government employee salary or pension.
Duplication of services immediately available through municipal, provincial, or national government.
Vehicle purchases. Farm equipment, such as small tractors, and transportation costs are allowable expenses.
Medical and psychological research or clinical studies.
Funds for market research, advertising (unless public service related to grant program), or other promotional expenses.
Entertainment, social activities, alcohol, ceremonials, hospitality and activities relating thereto. Meal costs associated with an overall project are allowable (i.e., working meal). Food or refreshment expenses are limited to 10% of the total budget.
Expenses listed as miscellaneous.
Expenses made prior to the approval of a proposal or unreasonable expenditures will not be reimbursed.
Note: for for-profit organizations, please review 22 CFR.145.27
No programs will be funded if they are not in compliance with all U.S. legal and regulatory restrictions on funding for assistance. VII. Award Information:
Funding Instrument Type: Grants
Anticipated Total Program Funding:
This solicitation seeks to fund projects at $20,000-$60,000 each for a project duration period of one or two years; however, the Department of State reserves the right to award more or less funding contingent on availability of funds. The Department of State also reserves the right to award more or less funding contingent on the scope of the project, the number of barriers it seeks to address, the linkages established, and the number of countries impacted.
Recipients of funding under this announcement will be subject to the Department of State terms and conditions found at http://fa.statebuy.state.gov and the terms set forth in this announcement. Additional terms and conditions may apply as warranted. Quarterly technical and financial reports are required during the term of the project, as well as a final assessment at the end of the project.
Award recipients must comply with Executive Order 13224, Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions with Persons who Commit, Threaten to Commit, or Support Terrorism. Information about this Executive Order can be found at www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/eo/eo-13224.htm.
VIII. Proposal Submission and Deadline: Complete Proposals with attachments with the subject line reading “[Organization Name, Country/Countries] WEAmerica Small Grants Initiative Full Proposal” must be emailed to WEAmericas@state.gov. To meet the announcement deadline, submissions must be received by on or before August 20, 2012 by 11:59 PM EDT. There will be no exceptions. Note: Questions relating to the RFA must be sent to WEAmericas@state.gov no later than 5 PM EST July 23, 2012. Answers to substance-related questions will be answered so that all of the applicants will be able to view all questions and answers. If there are administrative questions regarding this solicitation, questions and answers will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
Applicants must read the complete solicitation instructions below and submit the following required materials:
A completed Application Package including Standard Forms 424, found on http://apply07.grants.gov/apply/UpdateOffer?id=131190 will be required;
A completed proposal per instructions below.
Appendices: See Section X below for detailed instructions on accepted appendices.
Note: Unsolicited appendices will not be read and should not be submitted for this award.
IX. Instructions for Proposal Preparation: The body of individual proposals must not exceed six (6) pages, exclusive of appendices. The proposal must be submitted in English, written in size 12 font, double spaced, and have page numbers. Your full proposal should abide by the following format in order to receive full consideration:
1) Begin with a one-page executive summary (which does not count against your page number limit) that outlines the basic project proposal, the barriers it will address, and the timeline for completing the project.
2) Full description of the Program
Description of the primary barriers concerning women-owned businesses that your project addresses. Demonstrate an evidence-based understanding of the problems you seek to address.
Description of the solution and identification of at least two barriers your project addresses and how it contributes to an enhanced entrepreneurial ecosystem. See Section IV.
Give a clear description of assumptions, short-term and long-term project goal(s), objective(s), activities, outputs and intended results linked to your project; provide matching indicators and a plan to demonstrate a baseline at project inception that measures the current status of conditions that the project seeks to affect;
This award may go to a project that has not yet been tested; however, the applicant must make a strong case for why their particular competencies and prior experiences will support the proposal, as requested in Section IX.4.
3) Work Plan and Timeline
Submit a detailed implementation plan and a monitoring and evaluation plan that follows the project timeline.
Also include a description of how the project will be sustained at the conclusion of award funds.
4) Organizational expertise, competency, and past performance
Describe areas of key competency, past domestic/international experience on addressing these barriers, if any, and structure of the organization. How many people have you previously reached with prior projects? What changes have resulted from it? Please include statistics (if appropriate) and specific examples as evidence of your previous impact.
X. Detailed Instructions for Required Appendices:
Budget information (This section must not exceed 3 pages)
Cost Schedule and Budget Narrative - Submit (1) a complete cost schedule or budget outlining the applicant’s current budget and funding sources and (2) a budget narrative explaining the cost elements. If applicable, provide a list of previous U.S. Government awards (grants or contracts) showing the name of the awarding agency and a point of contact within the agency for the last five years. The cost schedule or budget submission should include detailed information on personnel and consultants with proposed salary and salary history, as well as the following elements:
Personnel - Identify staffing requirements by each position title with a brief description of duties, including work locations, and other justifications for these costs as they relate to the project. Proposed salary rates should not exceed the GS-15 step 10 level.
Fringe Benefits - Provide an explanation of fringe costs and how they are calculated.
Travel - Provide a description of travel costs, including the purpose of the travel and how the travel relates to the project. All international travel will be in accordance with the Fly America Act and will be reimbursed for coach fares only.
Equipment - Provide justification for any equipment purchase/rental, including computers and related hardware, and their planned use for the project.
Supplies - Specifically describe general categories of supplies and their direct use for the project.
Contractual - Describe each contractual or consultant cost, and outline the necessity of each for the project.
Other Direct Costs - Provide a narrative description and a justification for each cost under this category and describe how the costs specifically relate to this project.
If applicable, a copy of the applicant’s Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA) with the U.S. Government should be included. While cost sharing (in-kind or monetary) is not required, it is encouraged.
Provide most recent organizational Financial Statement
Provide a copy of its most recent Annual Report, if available.
Provide resumes or CVs of key personnel who will be working on this proposed project.
Provide letters of commitment from partners (if applicable).
XI. Evaluation Criteria: Proposal submissions in response to this announcement should include information addressing each of the criteria below. Each proposal will be evaluated and rated based on the criteria, which are designed to assess the capability or expertise and the organizational capacity of the applicant, as well as the merits of the proposed project.
Eligible organizations must have sufficient depth of experience and talent to provide technical assistance in the proposed program as described in this announcement.
The criteria below are closely related and will be considered as a whole during the proposal evaluations stage:
Project Design(35%) — The design is clearly understood, relevant, cost-effective and feasible, and women and girls are the direct beneficiaries of the project. The applicant must demonstrate that the project strategy is likely to achieve the proposed results, and that proposed activities and timeframes are reasonable. The proposal describes in detail the potential for the project to ultimately have a positive impact on women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs.
Proposals will be evaluated on their ability to demonstrate successful programs to overcome at least two barriers as identified in Section V.
Establish Linkages and Leverage Existing Infrastructure (25%) – Proposals will be evaluated on their ability to successfully demonstrate the establishment of linkages at all levels. For example, linkages to existing resources, trade and business development services, business associations, financial institutions, academic institutions, supply chain infrastructure, other countries, large scale buyers, and women-owned businesses at the micro and SME level. Proposals should demonstrate in-depth knowledge of existing country and regional resources, supply chain logistics, trade and business development, and explain how the initiative will not be duplicative. Proposals should meet an unmet need that strengthens overall entrepreneur activity and success.
Proposals will also be evaluated on whether the project leverages existing infrastructure and demonstrates the use of partnerships and cost sharing to close gaps and multiply the impact of the small grant on women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs.
Results, Monitoring, Evaluation (20%) —The applicant proposes feasible, practical results and makes clear the linkage between program design, inputs, and results expected. “Results” are a change in outcomes attributable to project activities. Proposed outcomes are tangible and achievable within the grant project period. The applicant identifies how program results will be measured by providing program milestones that indicate progress during the life of the project.
What are the intended results of the project? What barriers does the project seek to address and how will results be measured against such barriers?
What are the qualitative and quantitative indicators used to measure the results?
In addition and more specifically, what are the qualitative and quantitative indicators being used that speak directly to the transformed entrepreneurial ecosystem for women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs?
What feedback system will be used to monitor and evaluate the project on an ongoing basis, so that managers and implementers will be able to measure results and adjust or refine approaches throughout the life of the project?
Sustainability (20%) — Proposals will be evaluated on expectation of scalability, expansion, and cost sharing. Proposals will also be evaluated on the reasonableness and likelihood of sustainable results that will endure beyond granted funds and the term of the proposed project. In addition to the leveraging of partnerships and resources discussed above, the proposal will also be evaluated on the following:
Will the project result in a transformation in the success of women-owned businesses?
Is the innovation applicable to other areas within the country or to other countries within the region?
Does the project indicate what the baseline was (and how it was arrived at), or how a baseline will be determined, so that need can be proven, and expansion and scalability can be measured?
Does the project show evidence that its results could be sustained beyond the end of the project?