Lebanon

Consultancy to conduct a Qualitative Baseline Assessment for the Cooperative Development Activity 4 (CD4) in Lebanon

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Request for Proposals:

Consultant to conduct CD4 Lebanon Qualitative Baseline Assessment

Project Background

The Cooperative Development Activity 4 (CD4) is a $11.35M USD, 5-year (2018-2023) activity being implemented by Venture37 in Rwanda, Malawi and now Lebanon, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development – Washington (USAID-Washington). The goal of CD4 is to advance cooperatives in all 3 countries so that they have the enabling environment, improved capacity, and resources to meet the evolving needs of their members. The work in Lebanon started as of October 2021 and will last for just the final 2 years of the project. Similar to the project activities in Rwanda and Malawi, but with some adjustments for local context and the truncated timeframe, the CD4 work in Lebanon will focus on the following activities.

Venture37 will partner with members of the cooperative working group in Lebanon’s Food Security and Livelihoods (FSLH) Working Group, and other stakeholder organizations, to host Cooperative Learning Platform (CLP) events that will promote a re-branding of the sector toward profitable businesses rather than social clubs. One or more targeted apex cooperative organizations working in the mouneh sector (traditional preserved foods like jams, pickles, etc.) will also receive a sub-award to provide support to member cooperatives, and to the mouneh sector generally. The CD4 team will assess model cooperatives and other partner cooperatives to identify core weaknesses; action plans will be collaboratively developed in response. Then, Venture37 will coach cooperatives to meet their goals, covering financial management, governance, market access, and strategies to increase membership. Select model cooperatives will also receive direct “accelerator fund” grants (ranging from $5,000-$25,000) to help them deal with the effects of Lebanon’s crippling financial crisis and to maintain or recover the services offered to their members. CD4 has not yet identified specific cooperative partners or geographic locations, but the total number of cooperatives supported will not exceed 12. Finally, Venture37 will build an Emerging Young Leaders Program, with cohorts of youth cooperative members engaging in professional development opportunities to build their leadership skills.

Purpose of the Qualitative Baseline Assessment

Venture37 seeks to hire an external consultant to conduct a baseline study of the cooperative environment in Lebanon. The main goal of the baseline is to gather information about the cooperative enabling environment for cooperatives in Lebanon, the status and the major needs of Lebanese cooperatives (especially in the mouneh sector), and to provide useful evidence-based recommendations on ways to adapt planned CD4 activities to maximize impact.

Critical questions that we seek to answers with the baseline survey include:

  1. How strong or weak is the current enabling environment for cooperatives in Lebanon, at different levels (national and by governorate, municipality, community)? What are the major opportunities and constraints in the enabling environment?

  2. How is the national and international development community’s current support for cooperatives in Lebanon? What are the major opportunities and constraints with regards to this support?

  3. Which specific organizations, institutions and groups are currently supporting cooperatives (in general, but especially in mouneh)? What have been the major results of this support until now, both successes and failures, and what are the key lessons learned? What specific programs and activities have had the highest positive impacts? Have activities and impacts been after sustained after the end of funded projects, and why or why not?

  4. How do CD4 Lebanon planned activities overlap with other (past or current) project support for cooperatives? Are there redundancies that the program should try to avoid? Are there opportunities for complementary activities?

  5. What are the major needs of the current mouneh cooperatives? What support would be the most helpful to stabilize and improve their business performance? How does this differ by geographic area and for cooperatives that have different sizes or that focus on different products?

  6. Specifically, how are the on-going crises in Lebanon (financial crisis, fuel shortages, Covid-19, lingering effects of the port explosion, GCC ban on Lebanese products, etc.) affecting cooperatives, especially in the mouneh sector, and what support would be the most effective at helping them to weather these crises?

  7. Thus far, have some cooperatives (across any sector, but especially for mouneh) remained more resistant to the crises than others? If so, how and why?

  8. What are the services that cooperative members would like to receive from the mouneh cooperatives and/or apex organizations? These should be divided into most Essential (the core reason for the existence of the cooperative) vs. Non-essential (nice to have, but the coops could still exist and attract some members without it, members can get this service elsewhere). It can include some services that are already being given and others that are not, but that many members are asking for

  9. What are the key barriers to mouneh cooperatives to expanding their scale, both in terms of production and members? Would they like the project to help them increase their scale, and if so how?

  10. What are the current barriers to cooperatives in general, and mouneh cooperatives in particular, becoming profitable enterprises instead of just social clubs? How can the project most effectively create a shift in the culture of the cooperatives to make them more profit-focused?

  11. What are the main reasons why youth (18-29 year olds) have low involvement in cooperatives, particularly in mouneh cooperatives? What trainings and other activities would be most effective in increasing youth interest and engagement in the sector? Are there other organizations/programs that have worked on or are currently working on youth participation in cooperatives and how to increase it? If so, what have been their results and key lessons learned?

  12. What is the current state of financial record-keeping for apex organizations in the mouneh sector and the average mouneh cooperative? Do any of them have reliable financial documents like income statements, cost/liability records, etc.? For those who have records, how was business performance for the past several years (including at least 1 year prior to the current financial crisis)?

Methodology

The consultant will be required to do some desk research, but most of the work will be qualitative discussions with a cross-section of stakeholders to gather answers to the critical questions listed above. The consultant will plan out the details of this qualitative work, including creating the written questionnaires/facilitators guides, then will lead execution of the interviews and discussions, and finally will conduct analysis to triangulate the results and present the major findings.

Details on the main components of the qualitative work:

1. Review of documents

a. Find and review documents from the following sources

i. Internal CD4 Lebanon documents, including the Workplan, the Theory of Change, any agreements signed with partners, etc.

ii. Notes from meetings held between CD4 program team and key informants

iii. Relevant literature from outside sources, including some shared by the CD4 team and others which the consultant will find on their own. Should include reports from government, NGO or international organization project reports, relevant academic articles, etc.

b. Create a summary of the main findings from the document review (relevant to answer the critical questions, and more generally to guide CD4 activity adaptation) and use it to shape tool development for the subsequently listed qualitative work

2. Key informant interviews

a. Individuals to be interviewed can be determined starting with a recommended list from the CD4 Lebanon team, but then with a snowball sampling technique used to add other key informants recommended by the initial key informants. Generally it will include:

i. Select leaders of apex bodies and primary cooperatives in the mouneh sector

ii. Representatives of the General Directorate of Cooperatives (GDC)

iii. Select leaders of established cooperative outside the mouneh sector

iv. Representatives of other NGOs who have worked on projects (current or past) to support cooperatives in Lebanon

v. Select professors/researchers in Lebanon who focus on agricultural cooperatives

b. Questionnaires to use in these KIIs will be created by the consultant, pulling from the broader list of critical questions, but personalized to each given interviewee.

c. One element to include in the questionnaire is solicitation of input into how the Scorecards should look: what are the key 2-5 elements under each topic, how do you define best case vs. Worst case scenarios for each?

3. Focus Group discussions

a. These will be sessions of around 5-10 people total, with the consultant acting as facilitator and with CD4 MEL Specialist on hand to assist with facilitation and be the lead note-taker

b. Approximately 5-7 meetings should be held, with the following groups:

i. With leaders of 2 apex bodies together with some leaders of the most active mouneh cooperatives that they work with (2 meetings)

ii. With a wider groups of members of select cooperatives that CD4 is likely to work with (3-5 meetings).

c. Specific participants to invite to the focus groups can be determined by using a purposive sampling method, with recommendations from the CD4 Lebanon staff and the apex bodies. When a specific cooperative is selected, all members can be invited (as the mouneh cooperatives tend to be small) and then the sample will be whoever is available and shows up.

d. Many different key questions can be covered during these discussions, and the consultant will determine this as they develop the facilitation tools. But one that must be included is the critical question around Essential vs. Non-essential services (see deliverables section for more details).

4. Scorecard workshop

a. Will involve 1 full-day workshop with around 10-15 participants

b. This workshop will involve filling in the scores on scorecards for two areas--“Level of cooperative sector capacity (enabling environment) to support cooperative development” and “Level of support provided for cooperative development in Lebanon by the national and international development community.”

c. Prior to the workshop day, the consultant will use triangulated input from KIIs to develop sub-elements (around 2-5 per area) of each scorecard and will fill in the definition of the best-case scenario (score of 10) and worst-case scenario (score of 1) for each element

d. During the workshop day the group will assign scores from 1-10 for each element of the scorecard that the consultant helped develop. Through discussions, the attendees will come to a consensus on the score assigned per element and will explain the reasoning behind their score

e. Workshop attendees will be a cross-section of representatives of the different groups included in the FGDs and KIIs, with some members of the government, some cooperative leaders, and some experts from NGOs or academia all present together. The list of attendees should be compiled together with the CD4 Lebanon team and should have a purposive sampling method to get representation from these multiple groups

f. The plan will be to conduct the same scoring activity at endline, ideally with the exact same participants, to compare scores and see if there has been any shift.

5. Analysis

a. The consultant will clean and analyze the qualitative data iteratively, preferably using NVivo software or some other software of the consultant’s choosing.

i. Venture37 will provide the consultant with a license for NVivo (Individual Use license for Windows with no additional modules); if the consultant chooses to use a different software then the consultant must provide his/her own license for that software.

ii. If the consultant prefers to do the analysis without a software system then this might be an option, but an alternative systematic method for how the analysis will be done will need to be presented

b. The analysis process will include the following stages: data classification, data validation, and comparison. Triangulation will take place between the responses to similar questions across all tools and respondent groups.

c. The analysis will compare information from different types of cooperatives and geographic locations to highlight similarities and differences to allow the emergence of key learning points and themes.

d. Through this analysis, the consultant will identify emerging themes and patterns related to the key questions and to CD4 planned activities (i.e. as planned, will they address the needs found in the qualitative research, will they overcome the challenges mentioned, or are adaptations needed)?

Tasks/Deliverables and Timeframe

General Timeframe: 2 months of work, from January-February 2022

Reporting relationship: The consultant will share all deliverables with the Global MEL Manager for CD4, for review and commentary, and must make any requested changes before they are finalized and approve.

Collaborative relationships: The CD4 Lebanon MEL Specialist will work closely with the consultant to also review and provide ideas for deliverables, as well as to assist with some of the planning, facilitation and note-taking work. The two other CD4 Lebanon staff (Cooperative Development Manager and Cooperative Specialist) will provide some support, particularly on selection of and communication with stakeholders.

For more details on the tasks, expected deliverables, timeframe, and budget & resources here.

Qualifications for Consultant

Required

· Minimum Bachelor’s Degree in economics, statistics, or a related field

· 5+ years of experience in qualitative research design and implementation in the development sector in Lebanon, ideally as part of a MEL work for an international project

· Strong experience and skills facilitating group workshops and discussions

· Strong experience and skills in conducting research and data analysis, particularly systematic analysis of qualitative data

· Specific experience in conducting some or all the following- literature reviews, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, stakeholder workshops

· Strong experience and skills in writing reports in English

· Fluency in both written and spoken English and Arabic

· Currently living in Lebanon and authorized to work in the country

· Computer literacy and competency in use of Microsoft Office software.

· Highly developed conceptual, analytical and innovative problem-solving ability.

· Ability to establish priorities and to plan, coordinate and monitor tasks.

· Ability to independently and proactively work as a team member with minimum day-to-day oversight.

Desired

· Master’s Degree in economics, statistics or a related field

· 3+ years of experience specifically doing Baseline evaluation work for international development projects

· Additional Monitoring & Evaluation experience, beyond just qualitative research work (5+ years)

· Experience working on evaluations of USAID-funded projects

· Experience conducting qualitative analysis using Nvivo, Dedoose or similar software

· Experience working with stakeholders from government

· Experience working with cooperatives, especially agricultural cooperatives

How to apply

  • All applicants should submit documents to this link: https://lol.avature.net/Careers/JobDetail/Beirut-Request-for-Proposals-CD4-Lebanon-Qualitative-Baseline-Assessment/1546 by no later than 15 December 2021 (11:59 pm Beirut time). Late applications will not be accepted.
  • CV/Resume
  • A Cover letter/proposal (2 pages max) that outlines:

    • How you fit the requirements for the position
    • Why you would be successful in this consultancy
    • A financial proposal showing your daily rate x the number of days you would need to complete the work
    • If you propose to do the work in less or more than the 40 days proposed here, include a copy of the task/timeline chart with modifications on the number of days and some justification about why you have made the change
  • 2-3 references (should be former supervisors; include name, email address, phone number, their title, duration and nature of your work relationship)

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • 70% Strength of consultant experience
  • 30% Cost competitiveness and value