Accion International

Consultant needed | Request for proposal: Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Research, Center for Financial Inclusion

Posted Date 1 month ago(10/22/2021 5:37 PM)
Job ID


Request for Proposal:

We are seeking technical and financial proposals from a consultant or a firm to undertake research on a group. As part of its COVID-19 research, with funding from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) has been undertaking research with Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in four countries: Nigeria, India, Indonesia and Colombia.  In each country, CFI has worked with a local financial service provider to identify clients and measure the financial health of the MSME by undertaking a large scale survey in each country. All data cleaning, analysis and publications have been completed. The proposal will support the final phase of the research and also design follow-on qualitative research activities to probe some of the key findings from the quantitative findings.


For more information on previous publications on this research, see below:



Questions regarding the proposal can be sent to MSME Proposal Email with the title stating Request for Proposal: MSME Proposal.


About CFI:

The Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) works to advance inclusive financial services for the billions of people who currently lack the financial tools needed to improve their lives and prosper. We leverage partnerships to conduct rigorous research and test promising solutions, and then advocate for evidence-based change. CFI was founded by Accion in 2008 to serve as an independent think tank on inclusive finance.


Today, billions of people do not have access to the financial tools that most of us depend on. CFI is an independent think tank that conducts research and advocates for evidence-based change to ensure that all people can make use of financial products and services to improve their lives and prosper.

CFI’s role in the inclusive finance space is to identify learning gaps that could advance financial health of low-income people and undertake research and pilot testing to advance our collective understanding of what would drive progress.  In areas where there is clear evidence of what works, CFI collaborates with partners to advocate and embed learning into implementation and practices of partners.  CFI partners with all types of stakeholders – donors, investors, policymakers and providers – both in its research and pilot testing work as well as during its advocacy phase. 


About Accion:  

Accion is a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. We catalyze financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of — or poorly served by — the financial sector. For nearly 60 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through our work with more than 160 partners in 55 countries. More at


Description of Project

CFI is seeking consultants or a firm to support the final phase of the research and to design follow-on qualitative research activities to probe some of the key findings from the quantitative findings.


The proposal must include the following activities:


1. Quantitative Research

  • Analyze the full dataset, covering six waves of data collection across four countries (Nigeria, India, Indonesia and Columbia)
  • Review data and other literature on MSME digitalization. Including, but not limited to, the following:
  • World Bank MSME data
  • ILO research on small firms digitizing
  • APEC research on small firm digital transformation during COVID
  • MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth white paper (forthcoming)
  • Caribou Digital Strive Whitepaper (forthcoming)
  • Identify key trends and lessons and develop synthesis deck to validate key messages with CFI staff and partners.


2.  Qualitative Research

In light of the findings from the quantitative research, CFI is seeking to better understand the ‘why’ behind some of the trends observed and also to contextualize the results. CFI’s research has found that many small firms in our samples did not benefit from digitizing their operations.  In fact, many tested with different digital approaches, but did not sustain digital approaches over time. 

  • Develop qualitative research plan (learning questions, methods, sampling approach, countries, etc) to explore the findings related to digitalization of MSMEs. Preliminary country suggestions are as follows: Colombia, Bolivia and Nigeria
  • Develop qualitative research tools (guiding questions, analysis framework, etc)
  • Conduct qualitative research
  • Develop synthesis findings deck for validation of key messages with CFI staff and partners
  • Develop knowledge product to be determined with CFI (online brief, animated video or some other knowledge product depending on the findings)


3.  Synthesis Paper

The Consultant will contribute to final synthesis publication that combines the findings from both the quantitative and qualitative research on MSMEs. The synthesis paper is meant to deepen lessons beyond those already published in earlier CFI briefs (see links above).


Minimum qualifications to be considered:

  • 10+ years of relevant experience preferred.
  • Strong quantitative analysis skills, including agility with data transformation tools such as Power BI, Tableau Prep or Alteryx Designer, and a track record of wrangling, analyzing, and visualizing survey data. Experience with data modelling and large datasets preferred.
  • Track record of managing multiple projects simultaneously, delivering results on time and on budget. Experience working on and managing projects in multiple geographic regions preferred.
  • Strong written and speaking communications skills, with an aptitude for influencing internal and external stakeholders based on research findings.
  • Language proficiency in Spanish, French and other languages based on the final selected countries


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