Call for Proposals | Digital Financial Services for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific

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Deadline: October 1, 2019

The European Union (EU) has issued a call for proposals from eligible organisations for a program entitled “Digital Financial Services for ACP (Digital4Inclusion). This is part of the European Development Fund.

The global objective of this call for proposals is to deepen financial inclusion in ACP countries by promoting inclusive and responsible Digital Financial Services (DFS) ecosystems that can benefit people living in poverty and entrepreneurs (in particular women and youth).

The specific objectives of this call for proposals are:

Specific objective 1

Partnerships to promote Policy and Regulatory environment for digital financial inclusion: Promotepublic/public and public/privatepartnerships and multi-stakeholder alliances to support ACP countries in their efforts for responsive financial inclusion policies, regulatory frameworks and financial infrastructure for digital financial inclusion, namely the access to digital financial services for financially excluded and underserved populations. The expected outcome is improved capacities of ACP Countries to put in place policies and regulatory frameworks enabling the development of digital financial products and services in support of financial inclusion.

Specific objective 2

Partnerships to promote innovative and scalable digital financial solutions: Promotepublic/private partnerships and multi-stakeholder alliances to support ACP countries to scale digital financial solutions and advance their digital entrepreneurship ecosystems. Digital financial solutions can range from financial services (credit, savings, payments, insurance, remittances, etc.) to agricultural finance, rural electrification /clean energy finance, financial services for education and health, etc. The expected outcome is an acceleration of digital entrepreneurship ecosystems and appropriate digital financial solutions in ACP countries. In an ACP perspective, specific objectives 1 and 2 complement each other to perform a market development strategy at regional level, which can stimulate private and public actors to partner and perform missing market functions in inclusive financial systems. While complementary, the two specific objectives might differ regarding their importance and specific needs in the various ACP countries. Policy, regulatory environments, ecosystems and DFS mobilisation are unevenly developed among the different ACP regions and countries. While in more mature markets (Kenya or Uganda for instance) regulation and support services still need development, there already is a framework and ongoing initiatives that can be brought to scale and/or targeted to new users or used as leading experiences in other ACP countries (Specific Objective 2). In less advanced contexts, the priority might be to build an enabling environment that sets the rules, reduces market failures, and provides safeguards for future developments on the basis of experiences and lesson in more advanced countries  (Specific Objective 1).

In order to focus proposals on each specific objective, this Call for Proposals is divided in two lots.

In this context, Lot 1 shall correspond to Specific Objective 1 and Lot 2 to Specific Objective 2.

Lot 1 supports the development of a rights-based responsible market environment, required to set the stage of a healthy and sustainable DFS development, with the development of a regulation that is adequate, informed and enforceable, the setup of a framework for client education and protection. Or the development of supporting services such as payment systems, network interoperability or credit bureaus.

Lot 2 focusses on upscaling existing initiatives with new targets, new partnerships and technical innovation, to showcase sustainable and inclusive initiatives for replication. A preference will be allocated to those proposals addressed to women and youth.

In an ACP perspective, specific objectives 1 and 2 complement each other to perform a market development strategy at regional level, which can stimulate private and public actors to partner and perform missing market functions in inclusive financial systems.

The priority(ies) of this call for proposals:

  • The actions will be based on a market system development approach based on a strong understanding on the market failures and needs and with strong emphasis on impact and measurable results, taking into account trade and investment.
  • The actions will favour multi-stakeholder alliances, in particular private-public sector partnerships.
  • The actions will integrate in their design the need for replicability in further ACP countries for extended outreach over time.
  • The actions will promote women’s economic empowerment, youth skills and entrepreneurship, access to basic utilities and servicing rural population.
  • The actions will use various sources of funds in a complementary way, avoiding overlap and maximising resource allocation.
  • The actions will be designed as aiming at sustainability and will have a clear exit strategy for the post-grant period that may include using private investor funding, potentially from an EIP connected investment project.
  • The actions will have a regional approach avoiding fragmentation and ensuring a regional impact.
  • The actions will abide by the ‘do no harm principle’ to avoid unintended negative impact in terms of human rights and will  be implemented following the rights-based approach working principles  (all rights,  participation, non-discrimination, accountability and  transparency). The  actions will develop the capacities of the stakeholders as  ‘rights-holders’ to claim their rights and ‘duty-bearers’ to meet their obligations.
  • The actions will favour inclusive access to digital financial services with a particular focus on youth and women, ensuring that DFS are accessible and charged at a minimum cost and that personal data of users are strictly protected.
  • A Joint Steering Committee, composed of representatives of the European Commission, the ACP Secretariat and the ACP PSD Platform/TSF – Business, will ensure institutional overview of the implementation process and provide strategic guidance in conformity with the objectives of this Call for Proposals. When deemed necessary, the Steering Committee will invite to its meeting representatives of the implementing partnerships.

Funding Information

The total available funding is EUR 24,500,000. The funding will indicative allocation for the two lots is as follows:

If the allocation indicated for a specific lot cannot be used due to insufficient quality or number of proposals received, the Contracting Authority reserves the right to reallocate the remaining funds to other lot.

The indicative allocation for the two lots is as follows:

  • Lot 1: EUR 12,000,000
  • Lot 2: EUR 12,500,000

Eligibility Criteria

There are three sets of eligibility criteria, relating to:

  • the actors:
  • The lead applicant, i.e. the entity submitting the application form (2.1.1),
  • if any, its co-applicant(s) (where it is not specified otherwise the lead applicant and its co-applicant(s) are hereinafter jointly referred as “applicant(s)“) (2.1.1),
  • and, if any, affiliated entity(ies) to the lead applicant and/or to a co-applicant(s). (2.1.2);
  • the actions:
  • Actions for which a grant may be awarded (2.1.4);
  • the costs:
  • types of cost that may be taken into account in setting the amount of the grant (2.1.5).

Lead applicant

(1)   In order to be eligible for a grant, the lead applicant must:

  • Be a legal person and
  • Be a specific type of organisation such as: non-governmental organisation, social business,  foundation, inter-professional or intermediary organisation, international (inter-governmental) organisation as defined by Article 156 of the Rules of application of the EU Financial Regulation and
  • Be established in one of the following eligible country or territories (see Annex N):
  • an ACP State or
  • a Member State of the European Union or

For British applicants: Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. Unless sector-specific eligibility rules provide otherwise, if the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible to participate) or will be required to leave the project on the basis of Article 12.2 of the grant agreement’.

This obligation does not apply to international organisations.

  • a beneficiary country of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance or
  • a Member State of the European Economic Area or
  • an Overseas Country and Territory (OCTs) covered by Council Decision 2013/755/EU of 25 November 2013 on the association of the overseas countries and territories with the European Union or
  • a developing country or territory, included in the OECD-DAC list of ODA recipients , which is not member of the G20 group, without prejudice to the status of the Republic of South Africa, as governed by Protocol 3 of the partnership Agreement:
    • Least Developed Countries (LDCs);
    • Other Low Income Countries;
    • Lower Middle Income Countries and Territories;
    • Upper Middle Income Countries and Territories;


  1. a Member State of the OECD[1] only when contracts are implemented in Least Developed Countries (LDC)[2] and/or in Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)[3] only and  
  2. Demonstrate the following specific experience:
    1. At least 5 years of experience in project management;
    1. Experience in the management of at least 1 Public-Private Parnership project in ACP countries;
    1. Be able to demonstrate having carried out activities in the field of digital financial inclusion.

The specific experience of the Lead Applicant will be assessed under section 1.1 and 1.2 of the Evaluation Grid of the Full Application.

  • Be directly responsible for the preparation and management of the action with the co-applicant(s) and affiliated entity(ies), not acting as an intermediary.

[1] With regard to Israeli entities, please follow Guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards (OJ C 205, 19.7.2013, p. 9).

[2] Provided they all comply with eligibility rules applying to action location (see Annex O).

[3] Provided they all comply with eligibility rules applying to action location (see Annex O).

How to Apply

For more information, visit this link.

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About Ufuoma Akpotaire 319 Articles
Ufuoma is a Senior Editor and Director of Regulatory Policy at NLIPW. She assists clients in the protection of copyrights, trademarks and patents. She counsels clients regarding validity and infringement matters and has experience acting against the infringement of IP and addressing counterfeit issues. She holds a Masters degree (LL.M.) from Columbia Law School, New York and a law degree from the University of Nigeria (LL.B. Honors). She is admitted to practice law in Nigeria and in the State of New York. Ufuoma cut her teeth in the intellectual property practice groups of some of the largest law firms in Nigeria and has years of experience working with major non-profit organizations in New York. Email: