REQUEST FOR APPLICATIONS (RFA)

Development of Business Web Portal

Issuance Date: MAY 27, 2014
Deadline for Receipt of Questions: JUNE 20, 2014 by 4 p.m. CET
Closing Date/Time for Submission of Applications: JUNE 27, 2014 by 4 p.m. CET

SUBJECT:    Request for Applications (RFA) Number: RFA-2014-03

The USAID Business Enabling Program in Serbia (USAID BEP), a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded contract implemented by Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd., is seeking applications from qualified, legally registered US or Serbian non-profit, for-profit, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for a grant to develop a unique Business Web Portal for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in cooperation with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.

The successful applicant will be responsible for ensuring achievement of specified grant objectives.

This RFA consists of the following sections:

  • Section 1 – Funding Opportunity Description
  • Section 2 – Award Information
  • Section 3 – Eligibility Information
  • Section 4 – Application and Submission Information
  • Section 5 – Application Review Information
  • Section 6 – Award and Administration Information
  • Section 7 – Annexes

Pursuant to 22 CFR 226.81, it is USAID policy not to award profit under assistance instruments. However, all reasonable, allocable and allowable expenses, both direct and indirect, which are related to the grant activity and are in accordance with applicable cost standards (22 CFR 226, OMB Circular A-122 for non-profit organizations, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 31 for for-profit organizations, and OMB Circular A-21 for educational institutions), may be paid under the Award.

Subject to the availability of funds, USAID BEP intends to provide up to $30,000 (thirty thousand US dollars payable in Serbian dinars) in total funding to be allocated over an 18 month period (six month period for the development of the web portal and 12 month warranty period).

USAID BEP reserves the right to fund any or none of the applications submitted. Issuance of this RFA does not constitute an award commitment on the part of USAID BEP, nor does it commit USAID BEP to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of an application. Further, USAID BEP reserves the right to reject any or all applications received if such action is considered to be in the best interest of the US Government. Applications are submitted at the risk of the Applicant; should circumstances prevent making an award, all preparation and submission costs are at the Applicant’s expense.

Applicants should submit any questions concerning this RFA in writing, electronically, via email to grants@bep.rs. The deadline for receipt of requests for clarifications/explanations is June 20, 2014, by 4 p.m. Local Belgrade Time. No questions will be accepted after this date.

Applicants should submit applications in writing to: Jasmina Debeljak Maljkovic, electronically, via email at grants@bep.rs. The Closing Date for submission of applications is June 27, 2014, and the Closing Time for Submission of Applications is 4 p.m. Local Belgrade Time. Late applications will not be considered.

Section 1 – Funding Opportunity Description

A. Background

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded a contract to Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd. (formerly Emerging Markets Group, Ltd.) for the USAID Business Enabling Project in Serbia. The purpose of the Business Enabling Project is to help the Government of Serbia (GoS) improve the competitiveness of the Serbian economy and its private sector businesses. The overall objective is to assist GoS policymakers, businesspeople, experts, and others to improve the business enabling environment and macroeconomic framework. The activity provides technical assistance and training to improve the business enabling environment, support macroeconomic stability, further develop financial markets, and improve and increase business and financial management capacities within government and business. The Business Enabling Project is made up of three components:

Component 1, Business Regulation and Economic Governance, streamlines laws, regulations, and institutions; improves regulators’ capacity to implement laws; and improves analysis and public-private dialogue.

Component 2, Macroeconomic Policy and Public Financial Management, helps the Government implement new budget and fiscal responsibility laws, improve budgeting, increase public disclosure and transparency, strengthen public debt management, and improve economic analysis and forecasting.

Component 3, Financial Market Development, works on improving regulatory frameworks for non-bank institutions, develop capacity to strengthen and expand capital markets, and improve conditions for access to finance for small and medium enterprises.

USAID BEP’s activities in Components 1, 2, and 3 are described in more detail on USAID BEP’s websites at www.bep.rs and www.policycafe.rs.

To accomplish reforms in each of these areas, USAID BEP helps the Government of Serbia work closely with the private sector and outside experts to make reforms that improve business competitiveness.

The purpose of this RFA is to solicit proposals from qualified bidders to support USAID BEP by providing assistance in developing a Business Web Portal for the SMEs, in cooperation with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, as described in detail in B. Grant Activity Description Section of this RFA.

B. Grant Activity Description

Problem Statement

There is no single source of information that provides Serbian SMEs with information about various models of financing. This lack of information means that some SMEs are unable to easily identify realistic ways of financing their operations and must expend both time and energy in pursuit of funds that may never become available. SMEs also lack access to various useful tools that could be utilized to prepare financial forecasts, analyze solvency, and to obtain information, and materials that can enhance their understanding of financing and finance management.

SMEs also lack appropriate business support services. SMEs need information and professional support in order to adjust to changing market conditions, regulatory reforms, and other factors that affect their development and growth. The ability to obtain, in one convenient location, various information in areas important to their operations would be particularly useful for small businesses that lack capacity and resources to secure the necessary information and advice on their own.

This RFA is issued to support USAID BEP’s efforts in its Component 3, under the Project's objective “Improving access to finance for small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs”. This objective provides assistance in improving dissemination of all information on SMEs’ financing, including SMEs’ State support programs. Through this RFA, USAID BEP intends to develop a web portal that will provide Serbian SMEs with important information and tools to increase their access to finance. USAID BEP has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce to create a web portal, with important information and assistance related to the most important areas for the businesses. This activity will be conducted as an improvement of the Business Info Service, which is already functional inside the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.

Serbian Chamber of Commerce (www.pks.rs) is an independent, non-governmental, business-expert interest association of legal subjects and individuals who work in registered economic activity.

Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of this Request for Applications (RFA) is to provide USAID BEP with a qualified applicant for the development of an interactive web portal for the SMEs, which will be a single source of important information about different business areas.

The Portal will be an integrated platform comprised of multiple modules devoted to issues important for SMEs, and will thus allow all information collected to be disseminated quickly and easily to SMEs. It will be an effective way to disseminate information to SMEs on finance and other issues that impact their competitiveness and growth.

Scope of Work

The Applicant shall deliver to USAID BEP an operational Portal, conduct the training during the six (6) months period as defined in this RFA. The Applicant proposal must contain sufficient detail to allow USAID BEP to evaluate the proposed software and technical approach in compliance with this RFA.

  • i. Portal

The Portal should enable the SMEs to get all types of information relevant to their businesses, from the areas which are defined in this RFA, Annex B.  The Portal should present an interactive source of information and support, especially for the small businesses that lack people or resources to obtain all needed information.

  • ii. Support

During  the six (6) month period as defined in this RFA, the Applicant shall provide the support and training specified in this RFA, Annex B, in the Testing and Training, Pilot, and Roll out phases.

The Applicant shall also offer to provide maintenance at a fixed price during a period of two (2) years.

  • iii. Warranty

During the one (1) year warranty period identified in the proposal, which begins from the date of acceptance, the Applicant warrants that when the portal is delivered and installed, it will operate on the specified computer(s) in the manner as described in the relevant software document, in the Applicant’s proposal.

For a period of one (1) year after the date of acceptance of each portal module, the Applicant warrants that it shall:

  • Ensure that each portal module operates in a manner as described in the relevant software documentation, the Applicant's proposal, and the RFA;
  • Supply technical bulletins and updated user guides as they become available;
  • Correct or replace the software and/or remedy any programming error (which is attributable to the Applicant); and
  • Service the portal in a professional manner with qualified personnel.

The Applicant shall provide updated software documentation upon delivery of updated portal releases.

The Applicant warrants that it shall do its best efforts to correct a programming error, which is attributable to the Applicant. USAID BEP and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce will notify the Applicant of a problem with the portal in writing. USAID BEP and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce shall provide information sufficient to identify the problem. Such information includes, but shall not be limited to: error diagnostic messages, screenshots, diagnostic memory dumps, data file dumps, application program listing, and other written explanation and documentation of said problem. Notification of problems by email correspondence is considered a sufficient form of notification.

  • iv. Staffing Plan and Key Personnel

The Applicant will provide a listing of staff (see Proposed Team Member CV Form Appendix B) that will be engaged on this project and their CVs.  The Applicant will also designate, which staff are considered to be key.

  • v. Acceptance Criteria
  • Each deliverable, the source code, as well as documentation, shall be developed and/or modified in accordance with USAID standards. General quality measures, as set forth below, will be applied to each work product received from the Applicant under this RFA.
  • Consistency to Requirements – All work products must satisfy the requirements of this Scope of Work (SOW) and Functional  and Performance Specifications (Annex B).
  • Format – work products shall be submitted in both electronic and hard copy (where applicable) and in any other media mutually agreed upon prior to submission.
  • Timeliness – work products shall be submitted on or before the six months implementation period as specified in this RFA or submitted in accordance with a later scheduled date determined by the USAID BEP.
  • vi. Acceptance of Deliverables

The Applicant will provide a timeline for producing and submitting the project deliverables (see Portal delivery schedule form in Appendix B).
Acceptance is dependent upon passage through the acceptance process.  USAID BEP and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce will review, for completeness, preliminary or draft documentation, as well as the beta version of the Portal, that the Applicant submits and may return it with comments for the Applicant for correction. USAID BEP will issue a letter of approval and acceptance to the Applicant.

  • vii. Ownership of Deliverables

USAID and USAID BEP will hold intellectual property rights on the all elements of the IT system developed by the Applicant in the scope of this project and will be entitled to transfer it to the Serbian Chamber of Commerce or any other third party at its sole discretion. All materials, work products and technical data that the Applicant develops under this purchase order, including, but not limited to software and documentation, shall be considered “Works for Hire.” All rights and ownership of the software data, source code and derivative works produced pursuant to the purchase order are the property of the U.S. Government and USAID BEP and can be transferred and assigned without restriction. Full source code, object code, technical documentation and permanent licensed right of use of the system developed under this grant might be transferred to the beneficiary organization, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, prior to the closure of USAID BEP.

Section 2 – Award Information

Subject to the availability of funds, USAID BEP intends to provide up to USD 30,000 (thirty thousand US dollars payable in Serbian dinars) in total funding to be allocated over an eighteen month period. The anticipated period of performance of the grant is expected to start in July / August2014. USAID BEP anticipates awarding one Fixed Obligation Grant under this RFA. Under a Fixed-Obligation Grant, all payments will be a fixed-sum payable upon completion of deliverables, which will be defined in detail during grant agreement negotiations.

Section 3 – Eligibility Information

Eligible organizations shall be able to comply with and achieve the proposed Program Description, Tasks, and Results and have a satisfactory performance record and record of integrity and business ethics.

Eligible organizations include legally registered US or Serbian non-for-profit, for-profit, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Qualifications requirements include:

  • The Applicant must be registered as a company specialized in software (Portal) development;
  • The Applicant must demonstrate that it has successfully completed at least two similar contracts during past 3 years. To be proved by providing references for previous contracts;
  • The Applicant must have permanently employed at least three software developers, out of which at least one senior software developer. To be proved by providing statement containing list of employees and their job positions;

Prior to the award of grant under this RFA, successful Applicants will be required to sign a Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing certifying that the Applicant’s organization does not provide and has never provided assistance to terrorists for terrorist activities. Successful Applicants may also be required to sign other Certifications as applicable to the award. The Certifications are attached as Annex C of this RFA.

Ineligible organizations include:

  • Public International Organizations;
  • Entities that have misused USAID funds in the past, organizations that advocate, promote or espouse anti-democratic policies or illegal activities;
  • Political parties or institutions;
  • Organizations that intend to use the grant for religious objectives;
  • Organizations that are on the list of parties excluded from federal procurement and non-procurement programs or the United Nations Security Sanctions Committee.

Section 4 – Application and Submission Information

Applicants should submit applications in writing to: Jasmina Debeljak Maljkovic electronically, via email at grants@bep.rs. The Closing Date for submission of applications is June 27, 2014, and the Closing Time for Submission of Applications is 4 p.m. Local Belgrade Time. Late applications will not be considered.

Questions regarding this RFA shall be submitted in writing and in English via e-mail (grants@bep.rs) and must be received by USAID BEP no later than June 20, 2014, by 4 p.m. Local Belgrade Time. Please include your company name, address, contact name and specify the section number or item number you are referring to. Questions received after the deadline will not be accepted and will not be reviewed.

Applicants shall not communicate with any Serbian Chamber of Commerce members concerning this RFA from its release date until an Applicant has been selected and a grant agreement signed, except by the method described in this section. If an Applicant attempts any unauthorized communication, USAID BEP may disqualify the Applicant from further participation in the RFA process or reject that Applicant's proposal.

All applications in response to this RFA shall consist of a technical proposal and a budget proposal. The technical proposal must not be longer than 100 pages in length. Pages submitted in excess of 100 pages will not be reviewed. Supporting documents (please Section 4, of the Application form in Annex B for the requirements for supporting documents) and CVs of the proposed key staff members, which the Applicants are required to submit, will not be counted toward the page limit for the proposal. The technical proposal must be submitted in English, while the supporting documents can be provided in the original language (Serbian) or English. The cost proposal shall be submitted as a separate file from the technical proposal. Applicants are advised to fill in the budget form as detailed as possible. Applicants are allowed to add new lines and modify the budget lines (not Budget Headings) according to the needs of the proposal’s activities. Apart from the budget form, the Applicants are requested to fill in the Cost summary (included as Annex B).

The submitted application shall follow the format as described below:

  1. An identifiable tab sheet shall precede each section for easy reference.
  2. All pages, except pre-printed technical inserts, shall be sequentially numbered.
  3. The Applicant may include any additional information considered pertinent.
  4. All proposals shall include a Technical Proposal and a Cost Proposal.
  5. All proposals shall be submitted in English.  Failure to submit both packages in English will be considered a non-responsive proposal.
  6. One original and one copy of each proposal are due no later than June 27, 2014 at 4 p.m. The electronic format, sent to grants@bep.rs, must contain exactly the same proposals as the paper version.  Note: USAID BEP’s Grants Inbox has a 10MB limitation, thus be advised to send files exceeding this limit in several separate emails.

The outer envelope must bear the reference number of RFA, together with the full name and address of the Applicant.

Postal address and address for hand delivery or by private courier service:
Predstavnistvo Cardno Emerging Markets USA Ltd. /USAID’s Business Enabling Project
Grants Section
6/IV Francuska St.
11000 Belgrade, Serbia

a. Technical Proposal

On the outside of the package clearly mark the submission "Technical Proposal." The technical proposal should contain the sections of the application form attached in Appendix B. Please note that under point 7:  Description of grant activities, objectives and methodology, the applicant should include also the following:

  1. System Overview
  2. System Backup Recommendations
  3. Support and On-going Maintenance
  4. Implementation Schedule
  5. Exceptions
  6. Training Overview and Requirements
  7. Installation and Acceptance Process
  8. Application or Module Change Request Methodology

i. System Overview

Propose a narrative and diagram overview of the portal as contained in the Applicant's response.

ii. System Backup Recommendations

Provide recommendations for accomplishing high-speed backup of all system information maintained in the Portal, including recommendations on the use of incremental backup procedures. The amount of time required for full backup and recovery of the data, as well as for the operating system only, must be stated.

Finally, it is important that the backup/restore software can selectively restore one, several or all files from the backup media.

iii. Support and On-going Maintenance

Describe the various levels of support that are necessary to implement and maintain the Portal. Indicate which services have been included in Cost Proposal and which additional services could be purchased if required later on a time and material basis. Include the hourly rate and estimated number of hours of any services proposed for later consideration. These costs should be indicated in a separate section.

iv. Implementation Schedule

The project schedule shall include timelines for the completion of the all phases. The Applicant should submit a detailed project schedule that begins by showing the time lapse between contract signing and the first day of work on the first module. USAID BEP requires the Applicant to respond with an anticipated implementation schedule that reflects their availability. A Gantt chart must be supplied showing tasks and project milestones.

The timeline must include a weekly progress report describing the progress and activity with respect to each task described in this RFA. At a minimum the timeline shall include the following milestones

  1. Joint Design
  2. Implementation
  3. Testing
  4. Pilot
  5. Roll-out

v. Exceptions

Clearly state any exceptions to the Request for Applications and reference those sections concerned.

vi. Training Overview and Requirements

Submit a detailed training schedule. The schedule must provide a full training plan to be conducted by the Applicant's training staff.

vii. Installation and Acceptance Process

A Steering Committee will be established consisting of members from USAID BEP and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. The Committee will perform formal testing and acceptance procedures for each sub-system. In addition to the developed portal, full documentation and source code of the Portal is considered a deliverable and will also be subject of the acceptance process.

viii. Application or Module Change Request Methodology

Submit detailed Application or Module change request procedures.  The procedure shall clearly detail:

  • The Applicant's methodology for changing their products.
  • The steps USAID BEP / Serbian Chamber of Commerce must take to inform the Applicant
    of ''errors or bugs" in the products.
  • The steps needed for custom application or module requests.

The Applicant is expected to fix all bugs within a reasonable time frame that will be jointly determined with the Applicant and users.  The Applicant is expected to report on the status of these items weekly and any significant delay in resolving bugs will result in delayed payments.

b. Cost Proposal

Under a separate cover and packaging the Applicant must submit Proposal Cost Summary and the Budget form.  On the outside of the package clearly mark the submission Cost Proposal (see Annex B for templates).

Section 5 – Application Review Information

Applications will be evaluated in accordance with the criteria set forth below. The criteria have been tailored to the requirements of this RFA. Applications should note that these criteria serve to: (a) identify the significant matters which Applicants should address in their applications; and (b) set the standard against which all applications will be evaluated.

To the extent necessary, USAID BEP may request clarification and supplemental materials from Applicants whose applications have a reasonable chance of being selected for Award. The entry into discussion is to be viewed as part of the evaluation process and shall not be deemed as indicative of a decision or commitment upon the part of USAID BEP to make an award to the Applicants with whom discussions are being held.

Applications will be evaluated by the Grants Selection Committee on the basis of 100 possible points. The weighting of various sections will be as follows:

Category

Maximum Points (100 Total)

Objectives and Expected Results 

30

Methodology and Outcomes

35

Relevant Past Experience and Performance

15

Cost Effectiveness  

20

Total Possible Points

100

 

1. Objectives and Expected Results - Portal functionality (30 points):

  • Portal overview and overall relevance of the offered functionality (understanding of key issues relevant for the project)
  • Compliance with the requirements
  • Backup and recovery approach
  • Additional advantages/benefits of the proposed solution
  • Initial design / mockup

2. Methodology and Outcomes (35 points):

    Implementation approach (20 points):
  • Soundness of architectural concept
  • Proposed systems, tools and frameworks
  • Development methodology and work plan
  • Change management procedures (i.e. software version control, etc.)
  • Proposed delivery schedule
  • Allocation and justification of the human resources to be committee.
    Support and Maintenance Approach (5 points):
  • Guarantees provided by the Applicant
  • Cost of maintenance agreed
  • Financial stability of the Applicant
    Training Approach (5 points):
  • Proposed resources, tools and methodologies used for training
  • Past experience of the Applicant in field training
    Documentation Approach (5 points):
  • Proposed documentation methodologies
  • Documentation quality of the proposal

3. Relevant Past Experience and Performance (15 points):

  • References, certifications and past experience of the company
  • Qualifications and experience of the key personnel and other team members

4. Cost Effectiveness (20 points):

  • Realistic, well-though out budget, and in-line with the proposed activities
  • Allocation and justification of the budget

The selection of the Applicant for award will be made by the USAID BEP’s Grant Selection Committee. Prior to the award of any resultant grant agreement, USAID BEP must obtain prior approval from USAID.

Section 6 – Award and Administration Information

Before the applications’ specified expiration date, successful applicant(s) will receive written notice from the Grants Manager informing the applicant(s) that USAID BEP either intends to award a grant to the applicant without negotiation, or that USAID BEP intends to engage the applicant(s) in further negotiations with respect to a potential grant award. Negotiations conducted after the receipt of an application do not constitute an obligation on the part of USAID BEP to award a grant. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing by the Grants Manager.

Any resultant award will be subject to the terms and conditions of the Prime Contract for the USAID Business Enabling Project (for US organizations: 22 CFR 226, OMB Circulars, and the Standard Provisions for U.S. Non-governmental Recipients; for non-US organizations: Standard Provisions for Non-U.S. Non-governmental Recipients).

Section 7: Annexes

Annex A: Business Portal -  Functional  and Performance Specifications
Annex B: Required forms (Full Grant Application Form, Budget Form, Proposal Cost Summary, Proposed Team Member CV Form, Portal Delivery Schedule)
Annex C: Certifications

 

 

 

 

 







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