Job Opening

Posting Title: SRO-SA National consultant for producing a study on “Impact of Covid19 on MSMEs in Zimbabwe and the role of technology, innovation and regional integration”,
Department/Office: Economic Commission for Africa
Duty Station: LUSAKA
Posting Period: 30 December 2021 - 19 January 2022
Job Opening Number: 21-Economic Commission for Africa-171522-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

The Sub-regional office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is looking to recruit a national consultant to lead the implementation of a survey questionnaire in Zimbabwe and production of a report for Zimbabwe on the impact of Covid-19 on MSMEs. The objective of the report, among others, is to contribute to a nascent literature analyzing post-Covid recovery strategies for MSMEs in SADC and Africa. The national consultant will work under the guidance of a principal international consultant and in close collaboration with a team of national consultants from each other SRO-SA member state.

Work Location

Zimbabwe

Expected duration

Duration

The assignment will be completed and delivered in six work months

Remuneration

The consultant shall be paid a maximum of US$ 12,000.00 (United States Dollars) to cover the consultant’s fee and costs for the entire duration of the assignment in accordance with the following payment schedule:

• Fifteen per cent upon signing of the contract and submission and acceptance by ECA of the inception note, detailing the conceptualization of the assignment and the survey questionnaire;
• Thirty-five per cent upon presentation of an acceptable first draft of the country report;
• Fifty per cent upon the completion and finalization of an acceptable final draft of the country report;

Duties and Responsibilities

THEMATIC AREA: Trade and regional integration, private sector development, technology, innovation,
GENERAL EXPERTISE: trade, entrepreneurship, private sector, technology, digitalization, regional integration
CATEGORY: Research and policy analysis

Background and Rationale for the Course

Covid-19 has had adverse effects on the African continent and in particular businesses and Micro, Small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Africa Trade Policy Center (ATPC) and the International Economics Consulting (IEC) Ltd, based in Zimbabwe, partnered as early as April 2020 to conduct the first online survey among businesses in Africa to assess the impact of Covid-19 on African businesses. A second-round survey, that also involved ECA Sub regional office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) was conducted in June 2020. Results from the first-round survey in April (ECA and IEC, 2020 ) revealed a few salient interesting observations for the continent, namely:
 Four fifths of the surveyed firms indicated being significantly affected by the current COVID-19 crisis (rating the effect as highly severe or severe). The proportion was relatively uniform across the size of enterprises and the kind of business;
 The rate of capacity utilization ranged from 30-40 per cent (for small-sized enterprises) to 50-60 per cent (for large-sized enterprises). It also tended to vary depending on the sector in which the business operates, with the average of respondents indicating rates of capacity utilization of around 30-40 per cent for goods, and 40-50 per cent for services. Within these broad sectors, there were quite large differences. In general, manufacturing operations, travel/hospitality and transportation services appeared to be operating at their lowest capacities;
 Breaking-down top challenges faced by company size clearly showed that surveyed micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) viewed operational issues as most at risk under the COVID-19 crisis; “lack of cash flow” was cited as being the number one challenge for micro and small-sized companies, whereas “business is closed” was the case for medium-sized enterprises. In the case of large companies, a “reduction of opportunities to meet new customers”, as well as “issues with changing business strategies and offering alternative products/services” were the main concerns. In other words, while MSMEs seemed to be primarily concerned about surviving the COVID-19 crisis, larger businesses appeared to be more worried about adaptation to a new business environment;
 Just over half (55 per cent) of the respondents felt that the government responses to the COVID-19 crisis had been unsatisfactory. Asked about specific government intervention(s) they would like to see for their businesses, “postponed tax payments” was the most cited (by 55 per cent of the respondents), closely followed by “providing working capital to firms” (49 per cent), “subsidising wages” (48 per cent), “access to low interest loans” (46 per cent), and “assistance to workers from the informal sector” (40 per cent)

However, when asked whether they had identified/reacted to any new business opportunities that might have been made possible with the new situation, the majority of companies responded by the affirmative; with the proportion increasing considerably with the size of the enterprise. Among the specific areas identified, and in similar proportion across company size, the increased use of technology and the possibility to conduct business remotely came back the most frequently among the respondents (around two thirds of the total for each), followed by online selling as well as shift to new products related to COVID-19 or entirely new product/service lines.
The second-round survey conducted in June 2020 found that nearly 69 per cent of the companies surveyed operating in Southern Africa had identified new opportunities in reaction to the crisis. Businesses operating in the goods and services sector, had both identified potential growth in markets as one of their top priorities.
In a report titled “How South African SMEs can survive and thrive post COVID-19”, McKinsey points out that in Zimbabwe for instance small businesses were already facing significant headwinds prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 and that Covid-19 was going to aggravate the precarious financial situation of small businesses in a country where SMEs represent more than 98 percent of businesses, employ between 50 and 60 percent of the country’s workforce across all sectors, and are responsible for a quarter of job growth in the private sector. The same report identifies four areas where SMEs can take action to mitigate the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis. One such area relates to leveraging technology to reach new customers or provide a distinctive value proposition.
In order to support member states in addressing the impacts of Covid-19 on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), along with the five regional economic commissions including UNECA are implementing jointly a UN Development Account-funded project titled “Global initiative towards post-Covid-19 MSME sector”.
The objective of the project is to develop and implement capacity building tools for governments and MSMEs to facilitate resurgence and strengthen resilience of MSMEs in developing countries and economies in transition to mitigate the economic and social impact of the global Covid-19 crisis and to facilitate the contribution of MSMEs to the implementation of SDGs. The project is structured in five clusters addressing most critical areas of the MSME recovery:
1- Mobilize entrepreneurial ecosystem and strengthen business skills
2- Simplify business registration and facilitate formalization
3- Improve access to finance/financial literacy
4- Increase access to technology and innovation
5- Enhance access to markets

ECA SRO-SA is the entity at UNECA participating in this project and is the lead agency under cluster 4 - the thematic cluster on technology and innovation and also a participant under cluster 5 -enhance access to markets. One of ECA SRO-SA’s programmed outputs under these clusters is to produce a series of country level reports (in collaboration with the SADC Business Council and National Chambers of Commerce and Industry) assessing the impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs in individual Southern African member states and a synthetized regional report assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on Southern Africa, with a discussion on how technology and innovation is being used by MSMEs to address the impacts and the role that regional integration can play. The regional report and the 11 country reports will be published by SROSA, the SADC Business Council and relevant national institutions, assessing the regional and country-level impact of COVID19 on MSMEs in Southern Africa.
It is against the above background that the Sub-regional office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is looking to recruit a national consultant to lead the implementation of a survey questionnaire in Zimbabwe and production of a report for Zimbabwe on the impact of Covid-19 on MSMEs. The objective of the report, among others, is to contribute to a nascent literature analyzing post-Covid-19 recovery strategies for MSMEs in SADC and Africa. The national consultant will work under the guidance of a principal international consultant and in close collaboration with a team of national consultants from each other SRO-SA member state.

Duties and Responsibilities

The national consultant will work under the direct supervision of the principal international consultant and the SROSA Economic Affairs Officer (project manager of the Global MSME Surge Project) and under the overall guidance of the Chief of the Sub-regional initiatives Section. The consultant will also work closely with the other 10 national consultants, SADC Business Council and stakeholders from government and the private sector of Zimbabwe to ensure a successful and timely delivery.

Tasks of the national consultant

The national consultant is expected to work closely with the Economic Affairs Officer of SROSA (and project manager of the Global MSME Surge project), the principal international consultant and the 10 other secondary national consultants (based in each SRO-SA member states) to:

 Support the design of a questionnaire to address elements (i) to (ix) listed under Section 2 above, including:
o assessing the differential impacts of Covid19 on MSMEs and large enterprises for the period 2020-2022;
o differential impacts of Covid on enterprises according to gender, spatial location and sector of operations;
o how technology, innovation and regional integration agreements are being used to address these impacts;
o how MSMEs are utilizing COMESA/SADC, the AfCFTA and other trade agreements to address the impacts and challenges they are facing;
o how Covid-19 has changed the nature of the relationships between MSMEs and larger companies in supply chain networks.

The national consultant is also expected to:
 Customize the questionnaire to the context of Zimbabwe in consultation with the national counterparts in government and the private sector, ECA and the SADC Business Council and the principal international consultant;
 Advise and provide a sampling strategy in the case of Zimbabwe to ensure a sample that is representative and can allow for valid and sound inferences from the data;

 Implement the questionnaire in Zimbabwe, monitor the implementation rate and response rate of the questionnaire, and proactively engage in creative solutions to raise the response rate in order to ensure a minimum of 200 valid survey responses;
 Support the set-up of a national committee of experts in Zimbabwe consisting of government and private sector representatives with whom to work closely during the course of the exercise;
 Collect the responses from the implemented survey questionnaire in Zimbabwe and compile the responses in an Excel file that will allow for empirical analysis;
 Lead the drafting and production of the country report for Zimbabwe, ensure presentation of the survey findings in attractive graphical and visual aids (infographics, maps etc) and ensure a timely delivery;
 Participate in all meetings organized by the principal international consultant, on a regular basis (at least 2 per month) along with ECA, SADC Business Council, and relevant national stakeholders to establish milestones to be achieved during the exercise;
 Support the principal consultant to organize a Validation workshop for the regional report and 11 country level reports to be presented and discussed with key stakeholders and act as a resource person on the Workshop as needed;
 Perform any ad-hoc tasks as requested by ECA to ensure a timely and successful delivery of the reports;

The survey responses will remain strictly confidential. All data generated from the survey will be the property of ECA SRO SA and cannot be used without prior permission by ECA SRO SA. The survey responses should contain a mix of perceptions-based data as well as “objective” data. The sample covered should be representative of MSMEs in the countries (including various sectors, geographical areas, formal and informal etc).

Background and Rationale for the Course

Covid-19 has had adverse effects on the African continent and in particular businesses and Micro, Small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Africa Trade Policy Center (ATPC) and the International Economics Consulting (IEC) Ltd, based in Zimbabwe, partnered as early as April 2020 to conduct the first online survey among businesses in Africa to assess the impact of Covid-19 on African businesses. A second-round survey, that also involved ECA Subregional office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) was conducted in June 2020. Results from the first-round survey in April (ECA and IEC, 2020 ) revealed a few salient interesting observations for the continent, namely:
 Four fifths of the surveyed firms indicated being significantly affected by the current COVID-19 crisis (rating the effect as highly severe or severe). The proportion was relatively uniform across the size of enterprises and the kind of business;
 The rate of capacity utilization ranged from 30-40 per cent (for small-sized enterprises) to 50-60 per cent (for large-sized enterprises). It also tended to vary depending on the sector in which the business operates, with the average of respondents indicating rates of capacity utilization of around 30-40 per cent for goods, and 40-50 per cent for services. Within these broad sectors, there were quite large differences. In general, manufacturing operations, travel/hospitality and transportation services appeared to be operating at their lowest capacities;
 Breaking-down top challenges faced by company size clearly showed that surveyed micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) viewed operational issues as most at risk under the COVID-19 crisis; “lack of cash flow” was cited as being the number one challenge for micro and small-sized companies, whereas “business is closed” was the case for medium-sized enterprises. In the case of large companies, a “reduction of opportunities to meet new customers”, as well as “issues with changing business strategies and offering alternative products/services” were the main concerns. In other words, while MSMEs seemed to be primarily concerned about surviving the COVID-19 crisis, larger businesses appeared to be more worried about adaptation to a new business environment;
 Just over half (55 per cent) of the respondents felt that the government responses to the COVID-19 crisis had been unsatisfactory. Asked about specific government intervention(s) they would like to see for their businesses, “postponed tax payments” was the most cited (by 55 per cent of the respondents), closely followed by “providing working capital to firms” (49 per cent), “subsidising wages” (48 per cent), “access to low interest loans” (46 per cent), and “assistance to workers from the informal sector” (40 per cent)

However, when asked whether they had identified/reacted to any new business opportunities that might have been made possible with the new situation, the majority of companies responded by the affirmative; with the proportion increasing considerably with the size of the enterprise. Among the specific areas identified, and in similar proportion across company size, the increased use of technology and the possibility to conduct business remotely came back the most frequently among the respondents (around two thirds of the total for each), followed by online selling as well as shift to new products related to COVID-19 or entirely new product/service lines.
The second-round survey conducted in June 2020 found that nearly 69 per cent of the companies surveyed operating in Southern Africa had identified new opportunities in reaction to the crisis. Businesses operating in the goods and services sector, had both identified potential growth in markets as one of their top priorities.
In a report titled “How South African SMEs can survive and thrive post COVID-19”, McKinsey points out that in Zimbabwe for instance small businesses were already facing significant headwinds prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 and that Covid-19 was going to aggravate the precarious financial situation of small businesses in a country where SMEs represent more than 98 percent of businesses, employ between 50 and 60 percent of the country’s workforce across all sectors, and are responsible for a quarter of job growth in the private sector. The same report identifies four areas where SMEs can take action to mitigate the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis. One such area relates to leveraging technology to reach new customers or provide a distinctive value proposition.
In order to support member states in addressing the impacts of Covid-19 on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), along with the five regional economic commissions including UNECA are implementing jointly a UN Development Account-funded project titled “Global initiative towards post-Covid-19 MSME sector”.
The objective of the project is to develop and implement capacity building tools for governments and MSMEs to facilitate resurgence and strengthen resilience of MSMEs in developing countries and economies in transition to mitigate the economic and social impact of the global Covid-19 crisis and to facilitate the contribution of MSMEs to the implementation of SDGs. The project is structured in five clusters addressing most critical areas of the MSME recovery:
1- Mobilize entrepreneurial ecosystem and strengthen business skills
2- Simplify business registration and facilitate formalization
3- Improve access to finance/financial literacy
4- Increase access to technology and innovation
5- Enhance access to markets

ECA SRO-SA is the entity at UNECA participating in this project and is the lead agency under cluster 4 - the thematic cluster on technology and innovation and also a participant under cluster 5 -enhance access to markets. One of ECA SRO-SA’s programmed outputs under these clusters is to produce a series of country level reports (in collaboration with the SADC Business Council and National Chambers of Commerce and Industry) assessing the impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs in individual Southern African member states and a synthetized regional report assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on Southern Africa, with a discussion on how technology and innovation is being used by MSMEs to address the impacts and the role that regional integration can play. The regional report and the 11 country reports will be published by SROSA, the SADC Business Council and relevant national institutions, assessing the regional and country-level impact of COVID19 on MSMEs in Southern Africa.
It is against the above background that the Sub-regional office for Southern Africa (SRO-SA) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa is looking to recruit a national consultant to lead the implementation of a survey questionnaire in Zimbabwe and production of a report for Zimbabwe on the impact of Covid-19 on MSMEs. The objective of the report, among others, is to contribute to a nascent literature analyzing post-Covid recovery strategies for MSMEs in SADC and Africa. The national consultant will work under the guidance of a principal international consultant and in close collaboration with a team of national consultants from each other SRO-SA member state.

Objectives of the consultancy

The consultant will be expected to produce a country report for Zimbabwe that addresses a set of issues and treat them in depth, based on the use of literature review, data, economic and policy analysis, and using a methodology of structured phone interviews to collect data from MSMEs and large enterprises in Zimbabwe. He or she is expected to undertake this work in close collaboration with the principal international consultant.

The reports (regional and country level) should contain:

I. A definition of MSMEs for the report based on criteria and addressing definitional and conceptual challenges;
II. A methodology for sampling the businesses to be interviewed to ensure validity of results (the sample should consist of MSMEs and large enterprises to allow for a comparison of impact across size of enterprise; include informal and cross-border traders whenever applicable; the sample should also integrate youth, gender and spatial considerations and allow for sectoral analysis);
III. Main conclusions on what has been the impact of COVID19 on MSMEs in Zimbabwe;
IV. A comparative analysis of the impacts of Covid-19 on MSMEs as opposed to large enterprises and how Covid-19 has differentially impacted enterprises by size, by type of ownership (e.g. youth-led/women-led), by spatial location (urban v/s rural) and by sector of operation (agri-based, services-based, manufacturing etc);
V. A set of new survey results for Zimbabwe based on a questionnaire to be developed with SRO SA and implemented in Zimbabwe through either structured phone base interviews or face to face meetings or through an online medium or a mix of all; the survey should cover at least 200 respondents in the sample in each country.
VI. A presentation of the survey findings in attractive graphical and visual aids (infographics, maps etc);
VII. A critical discussion of the survey findings, highlighting how MSMEs in Zimbabwe are harnessing technology and innovation and regional integration agreements (SADC/AfCFTA) to address the impacts;
VIII. An analysis of how MSMEs are utilizing existing regional and global trade agreements (e.g. AGOA, SADC FTA, COMESA FTA and AfCFTA), how they plan to make better use of them and the challenges they face to utilize such agreements;
IX. A set of policy recommendations for MSMEs in Zimbabwe based on the new surveys with special attention to the role of technology and innovation and regional integration agreements;

The deliverables from this assignment will include: -

• A 15-page (max) inception report outlining the understanding of the task, issues to be addressed, methodology and sources of information; an annotated outline of the study and a list of references;
• A survey questionnaire that can be appended to the inception report;
• A note on sampling technique used that can be appended to the inception report;
• An excel file containing the survey responses for Zimbabwe and the details of the respondents;
• A draft of the country report for Zimbabwe with infographics and visual aids, taking into account the template provided by the principal international consultant;
• A final report for Zimbabwe incorporating comments from ECA, SADC Business Council and stakeholders and taking into account the template provided by the principal international consultant.

Other key deliverables/ provisions

i. The Consultant shall provide ECA with the datasets (preferably in Excel format) used to generate the charts, graphs and other figures presented in the study report as well as the charts/figures/graphs in an editable format.

ii. All the written outputs shall be prepared in English. Except for the power point presentation, all outputs shall be prepared using single line spacing, times new roman 12 font size, contain page numbering, list of acronyms, a table of contents, foot notes, references, relevant annexes and appendices.

iii. All work submitted must be the original work of the consultant, and contain proper citation and recognition of reference documents and data sources.

iv. Meetings will be held regularly between the consultants, ECA and the SADC Business Council. Consultants are expected to participate and prepare for the meetings.

Qualifications/special skills

Academic Qualifications: An Advanced University Degree in Economics, international trade, public policy, science, technology and innovation, or any other relevant field is required
Experience: A minimum of Five (5)years’ professional experience preferably in the areas of entrepreneurship, science, technology and innovation, international trade or business management is required
• demonstrated expertise in designing and implementing surveys;
• Proven track record of publications targeted at academia and/or policy makers;
• Excellent communication skills in English;
Language: French and English are the working languages of the United Nations. For this Post, fluency in English is required .

No Fee

THE UNITED NATIONS DOES NOT CHARGE A FEE AT ANY STAGE OF THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS (APPLICATION, INTERVIEW MEETING, PROCESSING, OR TRAINING). THE UNITED NATIONS DOES NOT CONCERN ITSELF WITH INFORMATION ON APPLICANTS’ BANK ACCOUNTS.

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