Consultancy (Terms of Reference for M-Access: Agribusiness and Farmer Data Management Tool)


Company Market Develo...
Category I.T.
Location Tamale
Job Status Contract
Salary GH¢ 
Education -:-
Experience N/A
Job Expires Jan 24, 2019
Contact ...
Company Profile

The Market Development (MADE) Programme for Northern Ghana is a British Department for Development (DFID) funded programme being implemented by a consortium led by Nathan Associates UK. MADE uses the Making Markets Work for The Poor (M4P) approach to increase incomes and resilience for smallholder farmers (SHFs) and small rural enterprises in targeted communities in Northern Ghana. 

MADE began implementation of a four-year programme in March 2014.  DFID agreed a 2 year no cost extension commencing in March 2018. The objective of the extension is to ensure increased productivity and income gains for SHFs and rural enterprises in Northern Ghana.

Job Description

Terms of Reference for M-Access: Agribusiness and Farmer Data Management Tool
Project background
The Market Development Programme for Northern Ghana (MADE) is a six-year (2014 – 2020) programme funded by UK aid from the UK Government and implemented by a consortium including Nathan. MADE works tpromote growth and reduce poverty in the Northern Savannah Ecological Zones (NSEZ) by improving how agricultural markets function.  
MADE uses a market systems development approach, partnering with the private sector, taddress gaps in agricultural markets which prevent small holder farmers (SHFs) and rural enterprises from being productive, commercially viable and profitable.
Five years ago, when the MADE programme began, the agricultural markets in the NSEZ were not conducive tSHFs or the rural enterprises that sold goods and services tthem. Farmers were unable tbuy essential inputs for their farms such as quality seeds or tractor services. These products and services were either unavailable or unaffordable.  MADE designed a number of innovative business models tenable rural enterprises tdeliver these services and products tSHFs in a commercially sustainable manner. Through partnering with rural enterprises, MADE has supported them ttechnically and financially adopt and operate the models at scale. 
As a result of MADE partners operating these models, agricultural markets are functioning more effectively. At the end of the 2017 growing season, MADE’s 68 partners provided goods and services t53,495 SHFs, 43% were women farmers.  
As a result of the delivery and use of these goods and services 48,164 (21,059 women) SHFs and rural enterprises achieved higher sales and turnover and 48,220 (21,073 women) had higher income after the 2017/18 harvest. Incomes for each of the SHFs working with MADE partners has risen, on average, by £434 since 2015.
In its last 2 years, MADE will build the sustainability of the market improvements by transforming a cohort of strong rural enterprises intanchor enterprises.  It is sharing evidence of its results with Government and donors tpromote adoption of its models and a market systems development approach. 
Background of the assignment
As part of its Year 5 Business Plan, MADE introduced a new intervention that focuses on data management and record keeping of transactions between MADE partner businesses  and SHFs. 
This intervention emerges from a detailed situation assessment conducted by MADE in Nov 2018 which included a detailed survey and a few in-person interviews of 20 agribusiness partners (8 input suppliers and 12 aggregators), 17 SHFs and 5 financial institutions. The assessment uncovered a range of issues that MADE partners face in data management. This included:
  • Difficulty in keeping record of transactions and transferring the recorded information from paper ttheir own digital systems (usually simple excel spreadsheets)
  • Difficulty tuse the data collected for making management decisions regarding their own business operations and transactions
  • Disputes with farmers based on inconsistencies between their records and farmer’s recollection
  • Limited time for agribusiness extension agents tprovide inputs tfarmers based on information collected through passbooks
  • Lack of good inventory management systems
  • Difficulty taccess finance due tlack of required records
These issues hamper productivity growth at both the agribusiness as well as at the farmer level. MADE therefore has identified the need for a mobile data tool concept that would enable agribusinesses tcollect data more efficiently and access new opportunities beyond record keeping. 
Concept for the assignment
MADE has identified five layers of data-based solutions that will help taddress the challenges stated by MADE partners as they advance through levels of sophistication in running their business. These five layers and their corresponding data requirements are highlighted in the chart below.
  1. Transaction Record: At the core of data requirements for the agribusiness partners, are the transaction records between them and the SHFs. A digital tool (with a mobile application on the front-end), which can collect data even offline, will be deployed via Farm Enterprise Agents (FEAs) , Business Development Advisors (BDA), associate firms or other employees by each partner (here after referred tas agents). The tool will record every transaction between the business and the farmer. Once the tool reaches an area with internet connectivity, the tool will upload that information intthe partner’s database. A copy of the transaction would be sent tthe respective farmers mobile phones via SMS  (which the farmer can dispute in case of inconsistency). Thus, both businesses and the farmers will hold digital records of their transactions.
  2. Inventory Record: At the second level, in addition ta tool that can track transactions, the agribusinesses will be able tinput information about the incoming and outgoing products and services of their business (from the input dealers tthe market). With this addition, the businesses will be able tmanage their inventories better.
  3. Financials: Currently most businesses use software such as Tally tmaintain financial records. The new tool should ideally be able tintegrate with the existing systems tcollect information as required. Agribusinesses will be able ttrack and manage their cashflow, P&L and Balance Sheets via the tool. The tool will alsbe able textract financial indicators as required for various kinds of analysis or reporting. 
  4. Management Tools: The combination of data available through the preceding layers offers the opportunity tincorporate a management dashboard intthe tool that integrates capabilities to: 
    • Allow traceability tthe first mile (where appropriate)
    • Conduct best practice benchmarking exercises
    • Evaluate effectiveness of seeds/fertilizers based on data collected from the field. This information can be further communicated with the farmers for better productivity
    • Forecast market demand and supply needs
  5. Donor/ID Reporting: The final data layer focuses on donor reporting and requires data collected that may not be directly relevant tthe partner/business in the short run. Through the registration process, the tool will collect information that can be used for impact assessment of interventions. This would include information about gender of SHFs, gender balance within a business, disabilities and education levels and would be available for measuring impact, inclusivity and sustainability of individual businesses as well as the overall intervention.
Overall responsibilities for the service provider
MADE is aiming tcontract a service provider tdesign, develop and deploy a data tool that will integrate as many of the above layers intone data tool. The objective of the assignment is tcreate a tool that will assist MADE partner businesses tefficiently collect data and utilize it for their individual business needs. 
The data tool, at the front-end will be a mobile application, used primarily by the agents employed by the partners. 
Registration: The agents will first register the SHFs, using the tool, intthe system. The service provider should engage with MADE and its partners tunderstand the data requirements in this regard. The tool should be built in such a way that, in the future, it can easily incorporate elements of the wider digital identity program implemented by the Government of Ghana.
  • Data Collection: The agents will use the tool tcollect data on every individual transaction of the agribusiness with a registered farmer. Thus, the tool must incorporate a form that can collect data for various transaction types. Since the agents work in areas with zertninternet access, the tool should be able tcollect data offline. 
  • Data Aggregation: Once the data is collected, the tool should be able taggregate all the information collected by agents on the system held by the agribusiness. The tool should enable the managers in the agribusiness tquery and track data as required. This data can alsbe used for reporting, and in providing records of operations and transactions when applying for   finance. The service provider should engage with both MADE and its partners tunderstand the data requirements in this regard.
  • Farmer Record: The service provider should alsenable a record of the transaction (digital or otherwise) tbe sent tthe respective farmer. The service provider should alsrecommend a dispute resolution mechanism (with guidance from the MADE team).
  • Inventory Management (optional): The tool should have a separate interface tcollect data on the inventory of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, etc. as well as of the produce that the agribusiness holds. The inventory record should be updated based on new purchases from input dealers/ or output from farmers and should be automatically debited when the transaction is made as indicated in the ‘Data Collection’ section above. 
  • Traceability (optional): The tool should allow the agribusiness ttrace the journey of inputs tfarmers and from farmers tagribusiness. This can be beneficial in providing off-takers with transparency across the supply chain thus making the MADE partners (agribusinesses) more attractive for large off-takers. A blockchain solution may be used for the same (however, it is not obligatory tuse blockchain and other options can be proposed – The service provider should provide an explanation of  whether the solution needs a blockchain driven platform or not)
  • Management Dashboard: The service provider will work with MADE and its partners tunderstand various formats in which they would like tsee information that will be useful from a business standpoint. The service provider will thus provide a management dashboard tthe agribusinesses ttrack and monitor their performance across various dimensions.
  • Financials (optional): Most of MADE’s partners use software such as Tally for maintaining their financial record. The service provider will build the tool in such a way sthat it best integrates/or take inputs, gives output tthe existing software at the MADE partner.
  • Access tFinance: The service provider will work with banks/other financial institutions tunderstand their data requirements when an agribusiness avails loans from the financial institution. The data requirements usually include the farmer network, off-taker agreement, and the financials of the agribusiness. The tool will enable the agribusiness tattain these documents at the click of a button.
The service provider should alsreview existing technologies (e.g., from other donor programs such as ADVANCE of USAID) that are already available in Ghana and can be leveraged for this exercise. Service providers are encouraged tsubmit alternate ideas that can resolve the issues listed above.
Timelines and Deliverables
The tool has tbe ready tbe deployed before the next crop cycle in Northern Ghana (which begins in May 2019). Thus, the timelines are tight, and the tool would need tbe built/adapted from any pre-existing tool rapidly. The deadline for the proposal submission for this TOR is on 24 Jan 2019.
Shortlist, Demo, Negotiation and Selection Stage: Post evaluation, MADE will shortlist a few service providers for providing a presentation/demof their platform. The demo, negotiation and selection is expected be completed by the first week of February. The implementation will start immediately thereafter.
Implementation Deliverables
The following deliverables are expected:
  • Design of the data tool (with the requirements above)
  • Development of the data tool
  • Testing of the tool in coordination with the MADE team and select partners
  • Creation of easy-to-use training material
  • Training of selected partners and agents prior tthe deployment of the tool
The tool will be deployed through select MADE partners for the crop cycle between May and November 2019. The service provider will provide ongoing support and iteratively bug-fix and develop the tool throughout the pilot phase. After a monitoring and evaluation phase, the tool will be open tbe adopted by other MADE partners as well as agri-businesses outside the MADE network in a market driven approach (where the service provider can propose pricing sthat the tool is sustainable in the long run). The service provider should highlight the license fee and the ongoing costs it will charge for the tool in the long-run. In doing sthe service provider will need ttake account of the proposed market for the tool which will be small and medium agribusiness in Northern Ghana, as well as large agribusiness. 
You are invited tsubmit a technical and financial proposal tMADE in response tthis TOR. Technical proposals should be nmore than 10 pages, comprising:
  • Brief statement of understanding of the assignment
  • Methodology and work plan (including timelines)
  • Brief description of deliverables
Additionally, you should submit
  • CVs of the team (nmore than 2 pages per consultant) whwill work on the project 
  • Relevant project experience
  • and References (with contact details) of past relevant assignments that demonstrate your capability tundertake this assignment. MADE will contact these references only past the final shortlisting and not without your prior knowledge/agreement.
The financial proposal should set out:
  • Fees (including a break-down of fees for adding the optional features highlighted above)
  • Reimbursable expenses
  • Proposed payment schedule (milestones, deliverables and proportion of payment associated with each)
  • Maintenance and other ongoing fees that the tool will incur in the long run
Selection criteria  
The proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee based on following criteria:
  • Quality of technical proposal
    • Focus towards a market-driven solution for the long run
    • Number of applications covered by the tool and the corresponding budget
  • Relevant experience
  • Cost (fees and expenses combined)
We will inform our preferred candidate of the outcome of the selection process (after the demround) and request permission tcheck references before confirming the selection.

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