Annual Program Statement 2014

Issuance Date: April 1, 2014
Closing Date/Time for Submission of Expressions of Interest: Friday, December 05, 2014, 15:00 CET
Subject: Annual Program Statement (APS) Number: APS-2014-01


1. Purpose

The purpose of this Annual Program Statement (APS) is to solicit Expressions of Interest (EOIs) and grant applications from qualified, legally registered Serbian non-profit, for-profit, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for funding innovative approaches to further advance the objectives of the USAID Business Enabling Project in Serbia (“USAID BEP”) in the following areas:

  • Business Regulation and Economic Governance in Serbia
  • Macroeconomic Policy and Public Financial Management in Serbia
  • Financial Market Development in Serbia

The USAID Business Enabling Project in Serbia is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (“USAID”) and is being implemented by Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd. (“Cardno”). The purpose of USAID BEP is to help the Government of Serbia (“GoS”) improve the competitiveness of the Serbian economy and its private sector businesses. The overall objective is to assist GoS policy makers, business representatives, experts, and others to improve the business enabling environment and macroeconomic framework. USAID BEP provides technical assistance and training to improve the business enabling environment, support macroeconomic stability, further develop financial markets, improve and increase business and financial management capacities within government and business, and build sustainable public sector capacities to implement policies, laws, regulations, processes and procedures.
Subject to the availability of funds, USAID BEP intends to award grants to fund eligible applications that advance USAID BEP's objectives and generate results in support of those objectives. Any awards resulting from this APS are expected to be in the range of USD 5,000 to 25,000 for a maximum implementation period of one year.

 

2. Background, Project Objectives, Expected Results, and Indicators

This solicitation is seeking Expressions of Interest (EOIs) and applications from eligible organizations that present creative technical approaches and methodologies for supporting USAID BEP’s objectives as follows:

1. Business Regulation and Economic Governance in Serbia:

  • Improve and streamline business regulations in the areas of inspections, construction permits, labor law, and para-fiscal charges;
  • Improve dialogue between business and government on regulatory issues.
  • Improve government implementation of legal and regulatory reforms.

2. Macroeconomic Policy and Public Financial Management in Serbia

  • Improve Government of Serbia’s budgeting, fiscal policy analysis, and financial management efficiency;
  • Improve public debt management and conditions for government financing;

3. Financial Market Development in Serbia

  • Improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs;
  • Improve the GoS access to finance through development of a long-term, liquid public debt market;

USAID BEP is focused on policy reform and improving the implementation of policies. It works with Government counterparts, private sector associations and NGOs to promote policy reforms that support economic development through job creation and strengthened competitiveness.

Applicants are encouraged to propose innovative, yet sustainable approaches to advance policy-focused reforms that address the issues stated above and help produce results to meet the USAID BEP’s objectives.  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 USAID BEP’s objectives described above, and produce verifiable results that contribute to the USAID BEP’s indicators.

Priority areas

The USAID Business Enabling Project has limited funds for grants to support conferences, workshops, publications, research, trainings, seminars, outreach, advocacy, pilot programs, monitoring, and other activities to build understanding of priority reforms, demand by businesses, the public, and government for implementation of the reforms, as well as monitoring to ensure that reforms are properly implemented. 

During 2014, the focus of the USAID BEP's grant program will be placed on activities that support implementation of specific reforms that will improve business conditions throughout the country. This could include: facilitation of reforms in many key business environment and economic policy areas; advocacy for policy change and promotion of new policies and good implementation of existing policies that support private sector development; and further support to capacity building with USAID BEP's counterparts in GoS and business associations. Some outreach activities, mostly carefully designed conferences and topic-based round tables, may also be supported.

USAID BEP is focused on a number of reforms that have been identified as priorities by the business community, will have a significant economic impact, and have been agreed to by the GoS.

Priority areas that USAID BEP will be working in throughout 2014 are as follows:

1. Business Regulation and Economic Governance in Serbia:

  • Improve Business Inspections Operations and Organization
  • Remove or reduce quasi fiscal burdens to businesses
  • Streamline construction permitting
  • Reduce the employing workers burden
  • Improve public-private dialogue
  • Implement regulatory reforms (in the area of most costly administrative impediments for doing business in Serbia)

2. Macroeconomic Policy and Public Financial Management in Serbia:

  • Improvements to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) fiscal analysis and strategy
  • Assistance to the GoS and Parliament to improve budget coordination and performance measurement
  • Assist the MoF Budget Department  and GoS in fully implementing the program budgeting model
  • Assistance to integrate program budgeting and performance management into national strategic planning
  • Improving conditions for public  investment in and trading of government debt
  • Assistance to improve debt management systems, analysis, and capacity

3. Financial Market Development in Serbia:

  • Support SMEs' access to finance through:
  • Assistance in development and implementation of access to finance related laws
    • Assistance to the MoE, the MoF and the NBS for Implementation of "White Paper" recommendations on access to finance
    • Assistance to strengthen professional services supporting access to finance
    • Strengthen the capacity of business associations to work on improving access to finance
    • Strengthen in-court and out of court credit enforcement
  • Improving conditions for public investment in and trading of government debt. 
  • Assistance in  development of legal framework and strengthening enabling environment for commodity exchange

Proposed grant activities – and EoIs – should address constraints within these priorities areas.

3. Eligibility

This APS is open to legally registered Serbian non-profit, for-profit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), research, and academic organizations. Eligible organizations must have the capacity to achieve the proposed grant activity, to produce the desired results, to have a satisfactory performance record, and record of integrity and business ethics.

Ineligible organizations include:

  • Public International Organizations;
  • 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;
  • 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 C 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 USAID BEP. 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.

Cost share is required as a condition for award. Cost sharing refers to resources that a grantee contributes to the total costs of the grant agreement. Applicants must provide at least 20% of cost share for costs budgeted for the implementation of the project.

4. Expressions of Interest and 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 USAID's Business Enabling Project as set forth in Section 1 and Section 2 of this solicitation. All EOIs must be submitted in the Expression of Interest Format included in Appendix A of this solicitation and must not exceed 5 (five) pages.
Expressions of Interest may be submitted to USAID BEP at any time prior to the closing date and time as specified in this solicitation. Applicants should submit EOIs in writing to: Jasmina Debeljak Maljkovic, electronically, via email at grants@bep.rs

The Closing Date for Submission of EOIs is December 05, 2014 and the Closing Time for Submission of EOIs is 15:00 Hours Local Serbia Time. EOIs submitted after this date and time will not be considered under this APS.

USAID BEP 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, USAID Business Enabling 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 must be submitted in the Full Grant Application Format included in Appendix B of this solicitation. The Full Grant Application Format requires applicants to expand on the proposed grant activity, objectives and expected results in detail, 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.

5. 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:

  • Relevance to the USAID Business Enabling Project Objectives: Are the proposed grant activities, goals and objectives in line with the objectives of the Project? Do the proposed grant activities, goals and objectives contribute to the achievement of Project goals and objectives as set forth in the APS?
  • Understanding of the Key Issues: Does the applicant demonstrate a clear understanding of the problems/key issues that the proposed grant activity will address?
  • 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?
  • Proposed Tasks Activities: Does the applicant propose specific activities that are logical, realistic, and relevant to the grant activity’s goal?
  • 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?
  • 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:

  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • Proposed Tasks and Activities (10 points): Does the applicant propose specific activities that are logical, realistic, and relevant to the grant activity’s goal?
  • Staffing/Management Plan (20 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?
  • Past Experience (10 points): Does the organization have relevant past experience successfully implementing similar activities?
  • Cost Effectiveness: (20 points): What resources are provided for the proposed cost? Is the proposed budget realistic, well-though 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 USAID BEP, nor does it commit USAID BEP to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of an EOI or Full Grant Application. Further, USAID BEP 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.

6. Award Administration

Pursuant to 22 CFR 226.81, 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 (22 CFR 226, OMB Circular A-122 for non-profit organizations, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 31 for for-profit organizations, and OMB Circular A-21 for educational institutions), may be paid under the grant.

Any resultant award will be subject to the terms and conditions of the Prime Contract for the USAID Business Enabling Project, and Standard Provisions for Non-U.S. Non-governmental Recipients.

Appendices:
Appendix A: Expression of Interest Form
Appendix B: Full Grant Application Form
Appendix C: Mandatory Certifications

 

 


 







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