Enterprise Investment Funding Opportunity at Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action – helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within, now and for the future.

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for:

Title: Enterprise Investment Funding Opportunity

Reference: Issued RRA/EIF/05
Locations: Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe
Employment Type: Contract

About the Opportunity

  • Through this Funding Opportunity, the USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity (RRA or the “Activity”) aims to identify potential partners and innovative approaches that leverage USAID resources to develop practical and market-driven solutions to implement innovative business models targeting smallholder farmers, youth, women, and micro-enterprises who have been affected by the protracted conflicts in North-eastern Nigeria.
  • The Rural Resilience Activity is a Feed the Future initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Mercy Corps in partnership with Save the Children International (SCI) and International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). The Rural Resilience Activity aims to ‘facilitate and protect economic recovery and growth in vulnerable, conflict-affected areas and sustainably move people out of chronic vulnerability and poverty via expanded opportunities’.
  • The Activity seeks to increase incomes and improve the livelihood and resilience of households through market-led growth in 4 States in North-Eastern Nigeria (Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, and Gombe state).
  • The Rural Resilience Activity is seeking applicants with innovative business models that improve economic activities in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, and Gombe states.
  • The innovative business model should be geared towards facilitating any of the market opportunities below:
    • Sales of fast-moving consumer goods as an innovative and market opportunity for vulnerable households. Introducing or developing affordable products that can easily be accessed by underserved market consumers.
    • Strengthening access to agricultural markets by promoting new supply-chain structures, new and structured relationships between off-takers/processors and farmers.
    • Models that increase access to productivity-enhancing technologies and practices such as post-harvest technologies, warehousing, and processing services to reduce wastages etc.
    • Innovating business models to drive and encourage agricultural market competitiveness through innovative and improved access to agricultural inputs, market transparency, and sustained productivity.
    • Innovative strategy to reduce the burden of malnutrition and poverty through a model that derives incentives for farmers to diversify the production of crops with high protein and high-energy.
    • Using food trade to guarantee availability, affordability, and accessibility of diverse foods needed for improved nutritional status of households and other target populations.
    • Strengthening local production of wheat value chains to mitigate the current import shortages.
    • Preparing businesses to access working capital.
    • Facilitate access to microfinance aimed at supporting business growth and access to market opportunities (locally and internationally).
    • Facilitating capacity-building training and business advisory services for micro-enterprises in Northeast Nigeria.
    • An approach that includes off-taking raw materials from the Northeast region and availing finished products to the region at affordable prices.
    • Other approaches that harness off-farm opportunities.
  • The Activity through this funding opportunity hopes to see enterprises expand their reach in new geographical areas, by opening a new business premise/branch, introducing new or improved product lines, and creating job opportunities for the people of Northeast Nigeria. Considering this, applicants are encouraged to consider long-term business continuity in the region beyond the funding opportunity.
  • The Activity seeks to offer, subject to the availability of funds, grants to eligible companies, as defined in Section D, up to a maximum amount of $150,000 (USD) per award. Amounts above this value may be approved if one applicant works in more than one state where the Activity is currently implemented. The expected duration of RRA support or the period of performance is twelve (12) months. Mercy Corps, as the primary implementer of the Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity, reserves the right to fund any or none of the proposals submitted.

For this program, this funding opportunity is being issued and consists of this cover letter and the following:

Section A – Statement of Objectives

Section B – Requirements

Section C – Selection Process

Section D – Evaluation Criteria

Section A: Statement of Objectives

  • To drive, incentivize and de-risk investments in Northeast Nigeria;
  • To improve access to sustainable output, having access to guaranteed markets and prices for farmers’ output, higher levels of capacity utilization by Agro-processors/aggregators, and the adoption of quality control measures in trading between smallholders and their off-takers;
  • To drive innovative business models for food, fast moving goods, solar and energy products, agricultural and non-agricultural products to Northeast Nigeria.

Problem Statement:

  • In North-eastern Nigeria, a major concern is that population are faced with several challenges that hinder them from scaling up or gaining access to markets, thereby limiting their productivity and profitability.
  • Typically, the North East Nigeria market is relatively thin market because of the following characteristics: small (with relatively few market actors and consumers); geographically dispersed with low density of market actors; few types of products available; weak information flows; limited coordination among market actors; a lack of supporting services, such as design, quality assurance, logistics, and finance; adverse informal rules and norms; poor connectivity, including both physical infrastructure and mechanisms for transacting at a distance; weak or non-existent civil society institutions, particularly associations; and limited mechanisms for managing risks.

The reasons why this market is thin vary. In some cases, thinness is caused by a number of the factors below:

  • Nascent markets are thin because they are new. Awareness of a new product or service is low and there has not yet been time for the development of services.
  • Crisis-affected markets have been damaged by protracted conflict in North East Nigeria. The region has broken logistical and trust links among actors, weakens information flows, ruins assets, disrupts production, and/or reduces market buying power. A combination of these can reduce a market to a thin state for years.
  • Remote markets are far from economic growth centres like Lagos, Abuja, Kano etc. The combination of long logistical lines to growing consumer segments and often sparse populations frequently means there are few market actors and few types of products available. In remote areas, specialization in markets tends to be limited and market institutions are slow to emerge.
  • Some markets dominated by socially excluded groups such as IDPs, some populations are in remote, but equally some business do not consider people in Northeast as desirable partners in supply chains and market transactions. The exclusion translates into poor connections to growing markets, inputs, and/ or support services.

Section B: Special Grant Requirements

  • The Activity grant aims to agricultural and non-agricultural companies to build sustainable relationships with consumers and producers or sub-dealers in their supply chains. Specifically, this funding opportunity seeks to leverage networks of rural households served by private sector firms such to:
    • Enable companies to innovate a business model that offers mutual benefit between them and farmers especially youth, and women in NEN.
    • Support companies to expand, strengthen aggregation, private extension, and digitized networks of farmer suppliers and customers and/or build their capacities.
    • Support companies to grow sales, leverage investments, increase their customer base, etc., and deepen their impact.
  • RRA seeks to identify private sector firms that are already in the business of offering services to households in Northeast. The Activity seeks to reduce market distortions arising from the infusion of grant funds. Care should be taken to ensure that the structure of the promotion or discount does not negatively affect long-term market sustainability.
  • The award will be directly managed by the Rural Resilience Activity with USAID support. This solicitation intends to enter a business metric-based Actual Expenses incurred that includes interventions that fit the evaluation criteria outlined in Section D below. The number of partnerships available will be determined based on interest, funding available, and quality of proposals.
  • As the amount of an award is subject to negotiation, a negotiated award amount may or may not fall within this range. Furthermore, the Rural Resilience Activity is not obligated to issue awards/an award up to the number of funds available. Grantees may be required to cover and create leverage of a minimum over the next year of 40% of the total cost.
  • Application reviews will take place on rolling bases upon receipt of business cases from August 2022. All applicants will be notified of their application status at this time. Note that immediate negotiations and site visits will occur with successful applicants. Site visits and other engagements requiring physical interactions will take into consideration relevant COVID-19 guidelines from the Federal and targeted State Governments in Nigeria. Please make sure the proposed project manager and a decision-maker will be available at that time since negotiations and site visits are required steps in the award process for selected applications.

Award Performance Management:

  • RRA will work with the awardees’ awards. The awardees will specifically be required to provide assorted monitoring and evaluation data to RRA such as:
    • Numbers of farmers reached through the various activity
    • Names of beneficiaries, their locations, gender, age and value chains, and farm coordinate
    • Type of products purchased/sold including volume and cost
    • Success/ impact stories and sustainability plans.
  • This funding opportunity is expected to generate business for the participating private sector companies enabling their recovery from Covid-induced low commercial activity. This in turn is expected to position the private sector companies and the targeted households and communities to strengthen the development and implementation of their adaptive, responsive and transformative capacities to enhance resiliency. RRA will monitor various parameters to determine companies’ resiliency and adaptation to covid business environment through tracking the following against baseline data:
    • Volume and value of products sold on the market
    • Of staff employed by the companies
    • Value of investments in Northeast Nigeria.
  • Awards under this Innovation Funding Opportunity will be time-bound and monitored to keep track of the promotional and discount offers provided to farmers. Awardees will have a deadline, after which time they will be required to engage with the farmers without further discounts.

Section C: Selection Process

  • Within ten (10) working days of the deadline for submitting expressions of interest, a technical review panel will convene. RRA shall take steps to ensure that members of the review panel do not have any conflicts of interest or the appearance of such about the organizations whose applicants are under review.
  • An individual shall be considered to have the appearance of a conflict of interest if that person, or that person’s spouse, partner, child, a close friend, or relative works for or is negotiating to work for or has a financial interest (including being an unpaid member of a Board of Directors) in any organization that applied currently under the panel’s review. Members of the panel shall neither solicit nor accept gratuities, favors, or anything of monetary value from parties to the awards.
  • The status of the application received, whether accepted or rejected, shall be communicated to all applicants within thirty (30) days. All Applications that meet the Innovation Funding Opportunity requirements will be reviewed by the review panel.


  • For this Innovation Funding Opportunity RRA is interested in partnering with for-profit private sector companies and foreign organizations (referred to as non-U.S. NGOs): either non-profit or for-profit organizations that meet the definition in 2 CFR 200.47 can apply as part of a consortium. However, the lead applicant must be legally registered in Nigeria.
  • Applicants have a UEI number (a nine-digit identification number required for all procurement-related activities).
  • A UEI number is not required for application but will be required for receipt of the award. Social enterprises such as community-based organizations with commercial business models.
  • Applicants must be Nigerian licensed and legal private input companies, business organizations/associations/cooperatives working in Nigeria with the established office(s) in State(s) intending to operate on this project will establish an office within the first month of implementation is successful. Individual consultants will not be considered for this call for application.

Information Meeting:

  • The information meeting will provide an opportunity for interested applicants to learn more about the opportunity and the process. Attendance at the information meeting is an optional requirement for applicants.
  • If interested in participating, applicants should send an email requesting interest to participate in an information meeting to ng-consultancy@mercycorps.org and a meeting will be organized for applicants individually or as a group and as appropriate.

Section D: Evaluation Criteria
Upon submission, the RRA Team will evaluate all applications using the following criteria:
Feasibility of design & Technical Approach:

  • Viability of the proposed technical approach (i.e., the proposed technical approach can reasonably be expected to produce the intended outcomes)
  • Contribution of the proposed approach to RRA’s objectives and expected results.

Impact on Target Group:

  • Does the approach correspond to the needs of the target groups (farmers, processors, traders, MSMEs) and directly benefit them?
  • Ability to enable targeted actors to earn reasonable and sustainable returns based on a clearly articulated business case.

Management & Programmatic Capacity:

  • Capability to undertake and accomplish the proposed activities.
  • Demonstrated ability to mobilize into Northeast Nigeria through available networks or existing presence.

Sustainability/Commercial viability:

  • Ability to build and strengthen the capacity of small-scale traders and farmers.
  • Can the activity be sustained by the organization beyond the grant?


  • Does the proposed activity incorporate a gender component or represent a strong commitment to including women, youth, disabled, and other vulnerable groups as beneficiaries?

Past Performance:

  • Evidence of previous or ongoing experience implementing similar activities.

Cost Efficiency:

  • Evidence of achieving the desired result with a reasonable cost compared to its competitors and other alternatives.
  • Costs will be evaluated in equal weight for cost-effectiveness and cost realism of the application.

Application Closing Date
31st October, 2022.

Method of Application
Interested and qualified candidates should send their Investment Plan to: ng-consultancy@mercycorps.orgusing the Opportunity Title as the subject of the mail.

The investment plan should capture the following information below:

  • Name of private company, Organization or consortium, Name and contact of focal person, office address, Registration type and Number of the company and description of what the company does.
  • Current business model of the company and experience.
  • Proposed investment and commercial plan for Northeast Nigeria that include the commercial approach
  • Criteria to use in measuring the achievements of your business.
  • Clear description of sustainability of your activity and how you will achieve scale and business continuity.
  • What measure will you ensure that your proposed intervention positions rural households in North East Nigeria for increased resiliency and empowerment as market actors?
  • Project activity and timeline (workplan) – based on activity proposed under Section II, Item 6.


  • Award will be made to the responsible applicant(s) whose application(s) offers the best value for money.
  • Issuance of this funding opportunity does not constitute an award commitment on the part of RRA, nor does it commit RRA to pay for costs incurred in preparing and submitting an application. Applications are submitted at the risk of the applicant. All preparation and submission costs are at the applicant’s expense.
  • Any questions concerning this funding opportunity should be submitted in writing not later than ten (10) days before the closing date above at ng-consultancy@mercycorps.org.
  • Applicants should retain for their records one copy of all enclosures which accompany their application.
  • Thank you for your interest in Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity.

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