CALL FOR BUSINESS PLAN PROPOSALS FOR THE UCC/UCUSAF GRANT FOR ENHANCING DIGITAL LITERACY AND SKILLING FOR MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES

Introduction

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) through the Uganda Communications Universal Service Access Fund (UCUSAF) has launched a call for business plan proposals to establish a collaboration in the implementation of key activities under a general thematic area of enhancing ICT adoption by Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Uganda, including the informal sector, in response to the adverse effects that COVID-19 pandemic is having on the sector.

Therefore, UCUSAF  III programme set aside resources to be utilized under a collaborative grant framework between UCC/UCUSAF and a suitable partner to implement the project: Enhancing digital literacy and skilling for Micro, Small and Medium sized Enterprises (including the informal sector/jua-kali. Some of these funds are available within the operational budget of Financial Year 2020/21.

Background

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Uganda are said to employ an excess of 3 million people, account for more than 90% of the private sector and contribute more than 70% to our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).[1]In this way, they play a catalytic role in creating low-cost jobs, alleviating poverty, rapidly industrializing and in fostering economic growth. This finding was further confirmed by the 2011 census of business establishments which revealed that there are 458,106 small and medium businesses countrywide, with the majority (61%) in the trade sector, followed by Accommodation and food services (14%), Manufacturing (9%), Agriculture (2%). ICT, Finance, Insurance and transport only accounting for the remaining 2% of all businesses surveyed.

Unfortunately, MSMEs are faced with numerous challenges, which cause between 70 to 80% of them, to fail within two (2) years of establishment. Some of these obstacles include; the inability to harness and leverage Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sufficiently to improve their operational performance and profitability.

Studies further indicate that in Uganda, only 9% of the 300 businesses interviewed had their contacts listed online, only 6% said that they advertised online, only 22% admitted to having basic computer knowledge, only 14% confirmed that they are benefiting from their online engagement, while 73% recognized that digital illiteracy is hindering them from running their businesses effectively and digitalizing their operations is important for their future growth. In addition, the following two major challenges were identified by a study conducted by the Economic Policy Research Centre in November 2020 on “Harnessing technology for business recovery and survival in times of COVID-19”

  • The majority of MSMEs have inadequate capacity or technical competence to use ICT technology, especially those at the micro and small scale level
  • MSMEs in Uganda are strikingly constrained in digitalization due to the high cost of the internet (e.g. data cost and taxes).

Based on the above facts, UCC/UCUSAF is seeking to collaborate with a suitably qualified stakeholder or consortium of stakeholders with the requisite qualifications, resources, competencies and experience as per the eligibility criterion and statement of requirements as presented in this call. The partners shall implement initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges identified above and other emerging sector challenges like those raised by the COVID19 pandemic. This planned multi-year collaboration will see UCUSAF offer technical and financial support subject to availability of funds, partner performance and approved partner project annual work plans.    

Project Objectives

General Objective

The general objective of the scheme is to encourage and assist the potential MSME clusters to adopt ICT tools and applications in their production and business process, and thereby, improve their productivity and competitiveness in national and international markets.

Specific Objective

  • To implement a digital literacy and skilling campaign targeting MSMEs in Uganda
  • To educate the beneficiary MSMEs on the opportunities of ICT and subsequently stimulate participation in E-Government and E-commerce services.
  • To introduce the MSMEs to and conduct demonstrations on ICT business tools.
  • To stimulate the acquisition of smart communication devices and increased utilization of broadband services.

Project Actions

Establish project baselines and identify target MSMEs clusters for ICT Intervention.

  • Develop a web portal for MSMEs.
  • Develop online and offline training content, customized in local languages, where possible
  • Identify and train SME master trainers and mentors
  • Scale up digital literacy campaigns for MSMEs countrywide
  • Monitor and follow-up trainees
  • Implement partnerships with smart communication devices vendors so as to simplify device acquisition by MSMEs.

Target Group

This initiative targets Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises engaged in the following trades or sectors: Mechanics, Market Vendors, Boda boda riders, Handicrafts, Carpentry, Metal fabrication, Agro-processing, Tailoring, Hairdressing, small restaurant owners, small lodge owners, Tour guides, Small retail and whole sale shops, Cottage industry owners, among others.

Eligibility of Applicants

  1. Be a legally established non-profit entity in Uganda with a mandate to work with Micro, Small and Medium-Sized enterprises in Uganda. In order to address the diverse needs of the project, it is likely that the scheme could be satisfactorily delivered through consortium of providers which is acceptable. The Lead applicant organization in the consortium will however assume overall responsibility and sign a memorandum of understanding with UCC, witness by any of the implementing partners to enforce joint accountability of action.   
  2. The applicant/Lead applicant must be in satisfactory financial health and have adequate financial systems to report to UCUSAF as shall be required.
  3. The applicant/Lead applicant must have active presence working with MSMEs in more than 70% of Uganda’s Districts and presence in all administrative regions of the country.
  4. The applicant/Lead applicant or consortium partner should provide proof of more than 3 Years’ experience in the field of digital literacy trainings for Micro, Small and Medium sized enterprises
  5. The applicant/Lead applicant or consortium partner should have documented experience in mobilizing, coordinating and delivering similar initiatives at national scale, especially working in rural areas.  
  6. The applicant/Lead applicant must have a clear Strategic Plan with a budgetary provision for SME digital literacy programs.
  7. Applications by a consortium should include a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties covering the entire term of the project’s implementation, as well as, an addendum clearly stipulating the roles of each party.
  8. The consortium partners should have the capacity to network and mobilize complimentary resources to sustain the initiative.

Preference

The Fund will give preference to applicants whose Business Plan proposals highlight the following: –

  1. Demonstrate clear understanding and experience in dealing with training and capacity enhancement of MSMEs.
  2. Entities that have qualified human resources in house or that are working in an established and proven consortium to implement the proposed project within the proposed timeframe
  3. Proposals that provide for greater innovations in execution of the project actions in remote and challenging environments (e.g. using existing infrastructure, mobilization stakeholders, adhering to COVID 19 era operational guidelines, lack of access or remoteness to the power grid, among others)
  4. Clear Financial and material contribution from the applicant over and above the grant amount
  5. Proposals that demonstrate higher value for money

Assessment Criterion

The grant applications will be assessed based on a 3-stage process (Administrative, Technical and Financial) process but also incorporating the four equally-weighted, all-encompassing criteria: –

  1. Administrative- will focus on assessment of the eligibility
  2. Technical – will focus on clarity of the motivation, smartness of goals, appropriateness of methodology and project management, feasibility of work plans, impact of the project, Ability to meet project priorities, addressing of crosscutting issues and project sustainability capacity to deliver.
  3. Financial – will focus on Value for money, sustainability and ability to mobilize more resources to scale the initiative.

Risk Assessment

The UCUSAF Assessment team will carry out a Risk assessment of the indicated and non-indicated risks. The assessment based on the risks assessed will consider the totality of an applicant’s submission in assessing whether a potential engagement would involve low, medium, high, or extreme risk to UCC/UCUSAF.

Required Applicant’s Legal Documents

  1. Applicant or Consortium partners’ Certificate of incorporation or registration providing a legal name – the name that identifies the applicant for legal, administrative and other official purposes;
  2. Applicant or Consortium partners’ Memorandum and Articles of Association
  3. Applicant or Consortium partners’ address (physical, postal, email, and web site where applicable)
  4. Applicant or Consortium partners’ Contact person details – the name, position, phone and email contact for an authorized representative of the Applicant.
  5. Applicant or Consortium Affiliated entities
  6. Applicant or Lead Applicant’s Audited Financial Account statements for the last 2 successive years.
  7. Applicant or Consortium partners’ Signed Code of Ethical Conduct in Business for Grant applicants and Providers. (Template to be provided by UCC/UCUSAF)
  8. Applicant / Lead Applicant’s Strategic Plan
  9. Applicant or Consortium partners’ proof of experience in conducting digital literacy campaigns for MSMEs

Business Plan Requirements

  1. Project motivation, objectives and outcomes
  2. Project linkage to UCC/UCUSAF strategy and the National Development Agenda
  3. Experience managing similar projects
  4. Project implementation methodology
  5. Project management framework
  6. Project work plans and associated milestones
  7. Project implementation budget
  8. Sustainability approach
  9. Monitoring and evaluation approach
  10. Risk management framework
  11. Integration of cross cutting issues of; gender, youth, digital divide among other

Application Timeline

The grant application is open from the 6th – 20th January 2021.

A Pre – grant Application meeting will be held on-line on 11th January 2021 at 10.00am. Zoom meeting log in details are as below:-

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwvce-upjwoGdR7FoZoirrtUkHs7i2kNY-e

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting

For any required clarification or guidance on the grant application process, please contact telephone +256-41-2339000/+256-41-2339000 or email registry@ucc.co.ug/amujuni@ucc.co.ug.

Final Applications should be submitted in triplicate hard copies (3 Copies) by 4.00 pm of the 20th January 2021 to: –

A Soft copy of the proposal should also be sent to the following email addresses by the deadline: registry@ucc.co.ug.

 Disclaimer

Personal information supplied in an application will be used by UCC in accordance with the Laws of Uganda. Commonwealth secretariat. Draft MSME Policy Document.; 2011. Uganda Bureau of Statistics. Census of Business Establishments 2010/11.; 2011.

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